With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“As long as we’re together the rest can go to hell” October 4, 2018


As regular readers will know I am a huge fan of David Bowie, although I am not keen on a lot of his output in the 80s. But even in that period there were some gems. One of those is for me the single “Absolute Beginners” a Langer Winstanley production from 1986. I also pride myself in knowing a lot of trivia about the Dame. But I recently read some trivia about “Absolute Beginners” that I never knew before. Kevin Armstrong was Bowie’s guitarist at that time and had been since he put together a band to back him at the previous years Live Aid concert. Armstrong says that when they were recording the song Bowie said that he wanted a backing/ co-vocalist who “sounded like a shop girl”. Kevin said “my sister works in a shop” and from that history was made! The previously unrecorded, untested and I believe 22 years old Janet Armstrong recorded a counterpoint vocal that is definitely comparable to many professional singers! Janet if by any chance you are reading this may I say thank you and I would love to offer you the chance to be interviewed by this blog. 🙂

 

Absolute Bowie – Fibbers, York – Friday 19th January 2018 January 20, 2018


Regular readers of this blog will know not only that I am a massive David Bowie fan, but I am also a bit of a Bowie snob. I have never been a particular fan of tribute bands. I have seen many and a handful have been very good, but the majority were mediocre at best. However just over a year ago at the fabulous Fibbers music venue in York I reluctantly decided to go and see Absolute Bowie. This is an act that many in the industry refer to as the best Bowie tribute by far and many of the reviews bear that out. Click here to read my review of that gig. I loved last years York show so much that I had to come back again in 2018. This time I persuaded my good friend and fellow Bowie fan Simon Hernaman and his wife Marie to join me. Was last year a one off or is the magic still there? You should read on to find the answer to that question.

The first set was a Ziggy set with John O’Neill in fine form as Bowie’s earliest and probably most iconic character. The costumes, the mime driven dance moves and most importantly for me the authentic sounding Bowie vocals from O’Neill. None of this would of worked however without the support of the excellent band; Chris Buratti on guitar, makes an excellent Mick Ronson in the first set, Fabio Cashio a stunningly talented bass player, Alex Paollilo on keyboards and drummer Alessandro Ricardi. There were many highlights in the Ziggy half of the show and it sounded great from where I was in the crowd although there seemed to be some problems with at least one of the monitors. Particular highlights were “Moonage Daydream“, ” The Man Who Sold The World“, a truly majestic “Life On Mars” and  “Starman” which had everyone in Fibbers la-la-la-la-ing like lunatics. First set closer was “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide“, what else could it be? I do not believe that there was a single person in the crowd that didn’t sing along to every song with 100% passion.

Which Bowie would we get from John  O’Neill in the second set? It was Serious Moonlight Bowie; bleached blond hair, wearing a pastel suit, unfastened bow tie and braces. In terms of where these songs were drawn from it was a much wider period than the Ziggy set ranging from 1974 to 1983. This band match their talent with confidence, to open with “Station To Station” would not have been attempted by lesser tribute acts, but Absolute Bowie pulled it off completely and followed that with a mesmerisingly funky version of what in my opinion is one of the finest cuts on the ‘Station To station’ album, “Stay”. Whilst we are on funk I have to mention “Fame”, I think Mr Bowie himself would have enjoyed that. We were treated to “Ashes To Ashes”, Let’s Dance” and “China Girl” from the 80s. The encore was for me perhaps the finest part of an amazing night. We were hit with “Space Oddity” which was introduced with a blast of ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra” which was used as the theme to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey‘, “Heroes” and a stonking version of “Rebel Rebel” that may well have brought the ceiling down had it gone on any longer. If you have seen Absolute Bowie before then I know you will see them again, I certainly will. If you have never seen them before what are you waiting for?

Public service announcement – all videos found via YouTube but all the pictures are from the delightful Mr. Simon Hernaman’s mobile phone 🙂

 

“We’ll build a glass asylum, with just a hint of mayhem” January 8, 2018


Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big David Bowie fan. This began in July 1972 when I witnessed that now iconic performance of “Starman” on BBC’s Top Of The Pops. I was lucky enough to see him play live ten times from 1976 to 2004 and I still buy every release, and to be fair there have been many since his death nearly two years ago. I recently received the latest in the seven inch vinyl picture disc series, the 40th anniversary release of the “Beauty And The Beast” single. It has a terrific version of “Blackout” on the B Side. Today would have been the Dame’s 71st birthday, I know to many of you that probably sounds old, but it is only 12 years older than me! Obviously like many fans I was saddened by his passing, but I am still somewhat freaked out by the amount of on-line Bowie fans that still speak of their despair at his loss, how they still wake up crying.

But enough of that morbidity, I do still celebrate the birthday of the late David Robert Jones. On a work day that means that I wear my David Bowie cuff links as I did today. I also received a few more David Bowie related books at Christmas, I think I now own around 70 in total. One of those Christmas presents was ‘David Bowie – A Life’ by Dylan Jones. Jones met and interviewed Bowie on many occasions and he uses that material along with old and new interviews with many people who were a part of the world of David Bowie. This includes the Spiders From Mars, Dana Gillespie, Bob Harris, Earl Slick, Mike Garson, Carlos Alomar, Peter Frampton, Nina Simone, Mick Rock, Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Bebe Buell and Coco Schwab to name just a few. The book is organised chronologically and is incredibly well put together. In my opinion it is beyond doubt the best Bowie biography for many years and easily the best to be published since his demise. It is tasteful and manages to unearth a few things that personally I had never read before; How he had tried to reform the Spiders From Mars in 1978 and how in the US in the early 1970s someone turned up at his hotel sweet and offered him a still warm, dead body to have sex with. In respect of the latter he was apparently visibly shocked and upset and turned the offer down. When he lived in Mustique at a property he used to own there he often referred to one drink from the cocktail menu in Basil’s Bar as a Penis Colada.

This evening I have also dug out the magnificent Alan Yentob documentary ‘Cracked Actor’ from the mid 70s. It is a fascinating portrait of a talented man in a spiral of cocaine addiction and ensuing paranoia. In many ways it is a magnificent insider view of the transition from the Halloween Jack character of the post apocalyptic tales on ‘Diamond Dogs’ into the white soul boy of ‘Young Americans’. If you have never seen it, whether you are a fan or not you should check it out. From just the social history perspective it is truly fascinating. This is a bit of a Bowie ramble I know, but I haven’t done a Bowie post for a while, well apart from the specific one about the song “Andy Warhol” back in December. I don’t really need an excuse to play some Bowie tunes, but a 71st birthday and the impending second anniversary of his death works for me. Let’s celebrate the Dame’s wonderful recordings together, what is your favourite David Bowie song? My top three favourites are currently; “Quicksand”, “Young Americans” and “Lady Grinning Soul“.

As a footnote the eagle eyed readers and bat eared listeners may have sussed out where I took the title of my blog from, go on take a guess!

 

12 Days To Christmas – Day 10 – Andy Warhol December 22, 2017


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This is the 12 days to Christmas countdown with a series of twelve posts that I confess are not particularly Christmas related. More an opportunity to fill a stocking with plenty of songs about famous people from history. Today is day 10, so only two more to go after this. Day 10 is the turn of Andy Warhol to be represented in song. His real name was Andrew Warhola and he was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 6th August 1928. He died in February 1987, wow where did that 30 years go? In the 1950s Warhol worked as a shoe designer and became a very early adopted of the silk screen process for printmaking. Many of his subjects were American icons, either people or things; Campbell’s Soup Can, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and the mushroom cloud, which technically is a kind of icon of America right? Andy Warhol was gay but in a 1980 interview he suggested that he was still a virgin. A 52 year old virgin? Wow! Many of you who read this blog may well have some Warhol art in your homes. Do you have a copy of the first Velvet Underground album, or the Rolling Stones ‘Sticky Fingers’? well he designed both of those.

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So on to the Song about this iconic and talented artist and it is actually performed by someone many also see as a talented and iconic artist, David Bowie. Come on you didn’t think I would miss the opportunity for some Bowie did you? The song is “Andy Warhol” from Bowie’s 1971 album ‘Hunky Dory’. Bowie met Warhol a few times, apparently the first time was a strange encounter with not much being said other than Warhol remarking on Bowie’s bright yellow shoes. Later, in 1996 David Bowie played Warhol in the film ‘Basquiat’ using some of the artists clothes and wigs. ‘Hunky Dory’ peaked at number three in the UK album chart in 1972. “Andy Warhol” was never released as a single, only “Changes” and “Life On Mars” were issued a singles from that album. Although the track in question did make it to the B- Side of the 1972 single release of “Changes”. Bowie originally wrote the song for his friend, lover and protege Dana Gillespie. But her version didn’t see the light of day until 1973. Interestingly Mick Ronson played guitar on both versions. There are four versions of the song for you to feast your ears on below.

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Bowie as Warhol

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Warhol with a fir tree, now this is a Christmas post……. right?

 

“But I never wave bye bye” November 21, 2017

Filed under: Trivia — justwilliam1959 @ 7:00 am
Tags: , , ,

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Despite departing this mortal coil nearly two years ago David Bowie is still breaking records. He recently reached his billionth stream on Spotify. That is not the highest by any artist, I know that Drake has had more than ten billion streams of his songs. Ed Sheerhan’s “Shape Of You” has had more than a billion streams in its own right. But nonetheless a billion streams is a great achievement in my opinion. The top ten Bowie songs streamed on Spotify completely bypass anything released after 1983. The sixties has one entry, the eighties has two and the seventies a mighty seven.

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In terms of albums represented by these ten songs, in reverse order it is;

Space Oddity (a.k.a. David Bowie) 1 track, Diamond Dogs (1 track), Heroes (1 track), Let’s Dance (2 tracks), Hunky Dory (2 tracks) and Ziggy Stardust (3 tracks)

The magnificent, late, great Mick Ronson was also a part of the original studio recordings of five of these tracks too.

  1. Heroes
  2. Let’s Dance (One of only two on this list to reach number one in the UK)
  3. Space Oddity (the second of two on this list to reach number one in the UK. But only after it was reissued in 1975)
  4. Life On Mars
  5. Starman
  6. Rebel Rebel
  7. Moonage Daydream (Never released as a single in the UK)
  8. Changes
  9. Ziggy Stardust
  10. Modern Love

David-Bowie

 

Billie Marten, Epilogues, Laura Kindelan – The Basement, City Screen, York – Tuesday 11th July 2017 July 12, 2017


This wonderful, intimate venue was home to a wonderful and intimate gig on Tuesday night courtesy of the talented Mr Simon Pattinson of Northern Radar. Mr P always puts together some excellent packages and I would like to congratulate him on his first sell out gig, may there be many more! Incidentally if you spot any gig promoted by Northern Radar give it a shot, Simon has never let me down in all the years I have known him.

Anyway tonight was a really chilled acoustic gathering kicked off by Laura Kindelan from York. For me Laura evokes what might have been had Jeff Buckley been female. This girl has so much soul in her voice and also a magnificently chilled and carefree style. She also has some great songs, “Sweet Tooth” is achingly, stunningly beautiful and I love it.

I first saw tonights second act, Epilogues back at this same venue in September last year when Mikey was supporting Jordan Mackampa. I liked him then and I still do. He said that he was nervous at the start of his set, but it really didn’t show. He has a great vocal range which is suggestive of both Thom Yorke in his softer moments and David Bowie circa 1969. The name Epilogues suggests closure but this fella has so much to offer that maybe he should become Prologues.

Billie Marten was the headliner tonight although she did say that she was blown away by the support. But whilst everyone tonight put in great performances for me Billie definitely shaded it. How many “Internet Sensations” (Billie came to prominence via her own YouTube channel as a young girl and then on a local YouTube channel called Ont’ Sofa) have true talent? I would wager that not many do, but Billie Marten has talent in spades. Her performance evokes a slight spirit of Joni Mitchell but she is also very much her own woman. “Cartoon People” belies the fact that Billie is only eighteen, it is a powerful song about Donald Trump and his daughter. It is a great song that would win over anyone in possession of a brain and a heart. This young lady will go far and she deserves to. She also shared some of her home baked cake with us and I can tell you that it was damned fine too.

 

“God is an American, God is an American” July 4, 2017


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I would like to wish a very happy 4th of July to all my American readers. Stay strong people you only have another three and a half years of President Agent Orange. But if you wish to come back to the Empire just let me know, we used to own you after all 😉

But let me also thank you for making the UK government look less stupid than yours!

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As I have said many times, this is a music blog so here are a few USA related songs, which in my opinion are bloody good!

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