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  1. This was really added on 16/2/23…

    It was bound to happen at some point…of course my collection isn’t static, I’m still adding to it and this morning I added this one. It’s The Best Of The Beat plus a bonus LP of extended mixes of some of their stuff. I’ve inserted it as #18a which is where it would have been had I owned it when I was writing about the Beastie Boys.

    The Beat were ace. They perfectly rode the back of the Two-Tone explosion (I’d argue Reggae flavoured pop but never Ska) and wrote songs that moved both the feet and the head. They were also Brummies so I was genetically disposed to liking them.

    The run of singles starting with “Mirror In The Bathroom” and taking in  “Best Friend”, “Hands Off She’s Mine” and “Too Nice To Talk To”, name me another run of 4 such fantastic singles. And then down the line there was “Save It For Later” and their B-sides were better than some bands singles, “Ranking Full Stop”, “Stand Down Margaret”, “Twist And Crawl”…hells teeth they were on fire for a time there.

    Ranking Roger’s Mom used to live on the bus route I took to work every day and for years (decades) there was a Beat sticker in the window of the front room. I drove past there recently and it’s gone <sad_face>.

    Best Friend - https://youtu.be/AOR90QKJmOA

  2. Chronology gets a bit out of step here but I keep this album next to the previous one as they are linked by time. Bowie left Deram records and signed with Philips and had a massive hit, “Space Oddity”, you may know it. When this happened Decca (Deram was a subsidiary label of Decca) pushed out this cash-in release as part of their “World Of…” series. They cobbled together some tracks from “David Bowie” and a few others, stuck a picture of “Space Oddity” era Bowie on the cover and rushed it out. A few years later when Ziggy Stardust made the big time they re-issued this album with a picture of Ziggy on the cover…sneaky. You might think so but apparently Bowie himself approved the track list so it had his blessing.

    As for that track list, this album contains all but 4 of the songs from 1967’s album “David Bowie” (“We Are Hungry Men”, “Join The Gang”, “Maid Of Bond Street” and “Please Mr Gravedigger” didn’t make the cut) plus “The London Boys”, the b-side of 1966 single “Rubber Band”,  and 2 previously unreleased recordings “Let Me Sleep Beside You” and “In The Heat Of The Morning”.

    “The London Boys” is a kitchen sink drama that concerns itself with its protagonist moving to the big smoke and trying to get in with the local Mod faces around Soho, and seemingly succeeding, but on a very superficial level.

    “Let Me Sleep Beside You” is a hippy-ish 60’s pop song which always strikes me would have suited The Monkees, and particularly Davy Jones very well…ironic huh ?

    Finally “In The Heat Of The Morning”, another song (along with the previous “Let Me Sleep Beside You”) Bowie returned to on “Toy” but which in 1968 was apparently regarded by its writer as something of a throwaway, describing it at the time as “top ten rubbish”. Deram rejected it as a single and that seems to have broken the relationship between singer and label and off he went to Philips Records.

    Let Me Sleep Beside You - https://youtu.be/U_hX482pLbE

  3. Right then, time to settle back for a while. If you’re not a fan of David Bowie then you may want to ignore me for a month or so, although if you’re not a fan of David Bowie then I’m not sure I want to be consorting with you anyway! He was (I hate having to talk about him in the past tense) the greatest rock star of my lifetime, he led the way so many times and when everyone else caught up he simply and effortlessly changed direction. This is where it started…

    David Jones had been through his R&B phase with the King Bees and The Manish Boys, had his stab at Mod Pop with the Lower Third with whom he changed his name to Bowie. In late 1966 by now a solo artist he signed with Deram Records and released the single “Rubber Band”, a strange little number concerning a WW1 veteran who loses his girl to the leader of the Rubber Band while he’s at sea. It’s sung in full on Anthony Newley style (Bowie exclaiming toward the end “I hope you break your baton” is quite funny) and was a pointer to what to expect from his forthcoming album.

    Deram released “David Bowie” in July 1967. “Rubber Band” was re-recorded for the album and a single “Love You Til Tuesday” was released from it. It’s a strange record of what can only be described as show tunes, but none of them were ever in a show. It opens with “Uncle Arthur” which could almost be a blueprint for Ronnie Corbett’s sitcom “Sorry”, older man lives with Mom, meets girl and goes to live with her, discovers she can’t cook or look after him as his Mom did so leaves girl to go back to live with his Mom and read Batman comics! “There Is A Happy Land” is the first of Bowie’s songs showing his yearning for childhood, “There is a happy land where only children go” says the opening lyric; “Little Bombardier” is a waltz concerning another forces veteran who innocently befriends some children but is warned off by the Police with the line “Leave them alone or we'll get sore, We've had blokes like you in the station before” it’s quite sad really.

    To my ears the one great song here is “Silly Boy Blue”which reveals Bowie’s interest in Buddhism and Eastern philosophies. Eastern Philosophy was very fashionable in the mid-Sixties, Bowie took more of an interest than many. In 1966 he visited the Tibet House, a Buddhist centre in London, and talked with one of its teachers. The lyrics of ‘Silly Boy Blue’ mention the Potala Palace in the Tibetan city of Lhasa, reincarnation, the concept of the overself (a self-entity above the five factors of a person’s being), and chela, a servant or student. Above all else it really is a great song, which Bowie re-recorded many years later for his aborted and then posthumously released album “Toy”.

    There’s another song concerning children and childhood on Side 2, “Come And Buy My Toys”, and the album closes out with “Please Mr. Gravedigger” which is just flat out strange. It’s an effects heavy track featuring bells, rain and thunder framing a poetic story by a child murderer who is watching and plotting to kill the Gravedigger as he works !

    Original copies of “David Bowie” sell for astronomical sums of money (a Stereo copy sold very recently for £2750) so no, I don’t own an original but a Record Store Day Mono/Stereo Blue and Red vinyl copy. If what you know of Bowie is “Heroes” and  “Life On Mars” you will find this to be very, very different. For Bowie nerds like me it’s fascinating to see the development from here to Ziggy Stardust in only 5 years.

    Silly Boy Blue - https://youtu.be/bkl1BfO5-1M

    Silly Boy Blue (Toy version) https://youtu.be/PPJJOOE640M