With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

“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!

 

“Jamming good with weird and gilly” February 27, 2012


According to a recent report in the UK tabloid the Daily Mail (so only a small chance it’s true) Ziggy Stardust is about to be honoured with a plaque in London. In the year that marks the 40th anniversary of the release of what many consider Bowie‘s finest moment it seems that the powers that be may be ready to give Ziggy a commemorative plaque.

Note that this would be very special as they are not awarded to living people. But it’s not a Bowie plaque it is most definitely to honour the Ziggy character. It will be placed in Heddon Street where the cover pictures for ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars‘ album were shot.

Can you think of any other fictitious characters from the rock world that should be honoured in the same way? The Kinks ‘Terry and Julie’ on Waterloo Bridge perhaps?

 

“New York’s a go-go and everything tastes nice” December 21, 2011


Regular readers and Bowie fans who have found their way here by accident will know that footage of Mr Bowie performing “The Jean Genie” on Top Of The Pops in 1973 has recently been unearthed. I posted about it on December 13th, just click here to read that one.

Anyway, first reports said that the BBC would air the film on BBC4 next year. Then last week some news reports suggested that it would be shown today at 19.30 UK time on BBC4. Then on Monday it was confirmed that it would be included in the Top Of The Pops 2 Christmas special broadcast at 19.30 on BBC2 earlier today.

I’m pleased to say that the song appeared reasonably early in the 90 minute show and it was superb. It was recorded live in the BBC studios on January 3rd 1973 and broadcast the following day. Bowie was backed by the Spiders; Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey, Trevor Bolder and the late great Mick Ronson. Bowie wore something far less loud than you might expect for the period; a very glam era jacket and trousers combo. Ronson had the jump suit and Bolder had those amazingly ridiculous sideburns. Mr Bowie also showed his prowess on the harmonica, even throwing in a short burst from a Beatles tune. Was it “Love Me Do“. It’s amazing that this is almost 39 years to the day that the single entered the UK charts. It went on to become his biggest hit up to that point when it peaked at number 2.

Bowie was sporting the classic Ziggy cut, the only time a slightly mullet style has ever been cool in my opinion. Was this the last TV appearance by the Spiders? Does anyone know? Bear in mind that this was just a few months away from the famous Hammersmith Odeon gig ‘retired’ and broke up the band. I’d love to hear what you thought of the clip and hopefully if you’re not in the UK you won’t have too long to wait. In the meantime click here to hear an interview with cameraman John Henshall (apologies for saying that he was retired in my earlier post about this story, apparently he isn’t) on BBC Radio Oxford and the audio of “The Jean Genie” from that show.

 

“Talking ’bout Monroe and walking on Snow White” December 13, 2011


You may have heard recently that two of the 108 lost Doctor Who episodes have now been discovered, featuring William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton respectively. Well did you know that a former TV cameraman from Oxfordshire has discovered a very rare clip of David Bowie performing “The Jean Genie” on the BBCs Top Of The Pops?

John Henshall was the cameraman when Bowie and the Spiders recorded the clip on January 3rd 1973. It was broadcast the following day and hasn’t been seen since. Henshall had kept a copy because he had used a number of new techniques and some new equipment during the shoot. Notably the fish eye lens. Click here to read the story on the BBC.

The film will now be shown in full on BBC4 next year. Along with many other Bowie fans I am a little excited by this news. Enjoy this clip of the song taken from the 1973 US TV Special ‘The 1980 Floor Show’ while you wait for that elusive Top Of The Pops footage to air next year.

 

 
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