Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Bowie Connection

When I first began posting in this blog, I touched on the topic of glam rock as a transitional music movement. I mentioned that the era of glitter gods was relatively short and that there were only a few notable commercially successful bands to leap out from that wave.

Do I believe that a glam music influence has been snuffed out over the decades because of this?

Of course not.

I decided that today, since I’m feeling particularly musically existential, I'd take the time and pull down a few branches from the great tree of rock (and beyond) so that we could look at David Bowie and covers. I'd like to show you who was inspired by Bowie's glitter music. Likewise, I'd like to show you some of the artists that worked as a muse to David, too. I've placed an emphasis on genre in my list to show a musical connectedness that not only surpasses time but permiates type as well.

Why David Bowie? Because he is one of the most successful musicians from the this particular musical phase. The man has survived decades of musical twists and his name is still synonymous with glam rock today.

(Disclaimer: I’m aware that this is a long list but it is by no means comprehensive. I chose the tracks which I found most interesting to display. I have labelled the bands in each description with their genre(s) as listed on the, 100% factual, )

David Bowie Covered:

"Across the Universe," from the The Beatles (Genre: rock & pop) album "Let it be", was covered on the David Bowie album "Young Americans."

"Alabama-Song," from the Kurt Weill (Genre: concert hall and classical symphony) album "From Berlin to Broadway", was covered on the David Bowie album "Stage (disc 2)."

"Almost Grown," from the Chuck Berry (Genre: rock and roll) album "Chuck Berry is on Top", was covered on the David Bowie album "Bowie at the Beep."

"God Only Knows," from the The Beach Boys (Genre: rock/surf/pop) album "Pet Sounds", was covered on the David Bowie album "Tonight."

"I Can't Explain," from the The Who (Genre: Rock) album "Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy", was covered on the David Bowie album "Pin Ups."

"I Feel Free," from the Cream (Genre: British blues-rock) album "Fresh Cream", was covered on the road in ’72, later recorded on the David Bowie album "Black Tie White Noise."

"I Wish You Would," from the Billy Boy Arnold & Tony McPhee (Genre: blues) album "Blues Legends: Chicago Blues", was covered on the David Bowie album "Pin Ups."

"I've Been Waiting for You," from the Neil Young (Genre: swing, Jazz, Rockabilly, Blues) album "Neil Young", was covered on the David Bowie album "Heathen."

"Knock on Wood," from the self-titled Eddie Floyd (Genre: soul/R&B) LP, was covered on the David Bowie album "David Live ."

"Where Have All the Good Times Gone," from the The Kinks (Genre: Rock) album "One for the Road", was covered on the David Bowie album "Pin Ups."

"Wild Is the Wind," from the Nina Simone (Genre: jazz, soul, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop) album

"Lady Sings the Blues", was covered on the David Bowie album "Station to Station."

Covered David Bowie:

"1984," from the David Bowie album "Diamond Dogs" , was covered on the Tina Turner (Genre: rock) album "Private Dancer."

"Andy Warhol," from the David Bowie album "Hunky Dory" , was covered on the Stone Temple Pilots (Genre: rock) album "Vasoline."

"Ashes to Ashes," from the David Bowie album "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps" , was covered on the Tears For Fears (Genre: pop) album "Saturnine Martial & Lunatic."

"Diamond Dogs," from the David Bowie album "Diamond Dogs" , was covered on the Beck (Genre: “a pop art collage of musical styles”) album "Moulin Rouge."

"Drive-In Saturday," from the David Bowie album "Aladdin Sane" , was covered on the Morrissey (Genre: alternative rock) album "All You Need Is Me."

"Fame," from the David Bowie album "Young Americans" , was covered on the Duran Duran (Genre: pop rock, synthpop) album "Uncut 2003.03: Starman."

"Five Years," from the David Bowie album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" , was covered on the Fish (Genre: progressive rock) album "Songs From the Mirror."

"Golden Years," from the self-titled David Bowie album was covered on the Marilyn Manson (Genre: alternative metal, industrial metal) album "From Highway to Hell."

"Hallo Spaceboy," from the David Bowie album "Outside" , was covered on the Nine Inch Nails (Genre: industrial rock, industrial metal) album "The Oddball Couple."

"Heroes," the title track of the David Bowie album was covered on the Blondie (Genre: new wave, pop rock) album "Blonde and Beyond."

"The Jean Genie," from the David Bowie album "Aladdin Sane" , was covered on the The Dandy Warhols (Genre: alternative rock, psychedelic rock) album "Come on Feel the Dandy Warhols."

"Kooks," from the David Bowie album "Hunky Dory" , was covered on the Robbie Williams (Genre: pop rock, britrock) album "Rules of Life."

"Life On Mars," from the David Bowie album "Hunky Dory" , was covered on the The Flaming Lips (Genre: alternative rock, indie rock) album "This Here Giraffe."

"The Man Who Sold the World," from the David Bowie album "The Man Who Sold the World" , was covered on the Nirvana (Genre: alternative rock, grundge) album "MTV Unplugged in New York."

"Quicksand," from the David Bowie album "Hunky Dory" , was covered on the Seal (Genre: soul, R&B) album "Unplugged."

"Rebel Rebel," from the David Bowie album "Diamond Dogs" , was covered on the Bay City Rollers (Genre: bubblegum pop) album "David Bowie."

"Suffragette City," from the David Bowie album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" , was covered on the Alice in Chains (Genre: alternative rock, grundge) album "Boot! ."

"Suffragette City," from the David Bowie album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" , was covered on the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Genre: alternative rock, funk rock) album "Slap Happy."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What's in a name? Confusion sometimes.

Well, they aren’t an Eagles cover band and they don’t sound like Cannibal Corpse or Cradle of filth. They’re just...well, they’re just “the Eagles of Death Metal” (EODM).

The band, led by Jessie “The Devil” Hughes, has made quite a name for itself. They first jumped into the Los Angeles rock scene riding the coattails of their producer and part-time drummer, Josh Hommes, of Queens of the Stone Age.

How can I describe this band? Okay, take a few LPs from the 70s: a little Bad Company, some Canned Heat, a bit of T.Rex and a touch of Zappa” and you get something close to what these guys create musically. Now, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damn entertaining.

So, what make EODM glam-ish? Well, besides Jesse Hughes’ over-enthusiastic performances on stage, their act is woven around a music that is stuffed with pure, sweet, ultra-hip glitter vivaciousness. That is, the music is about as glitter as glam can get. Songs express a taste for sex, drugs, fame, androgyny, and boogeying. last time I checked, these words were pretty much the definition of glam (See last week’s post if you don’t believe me, sucka'). When asked about the bands influences, Jesse Hughes always places an emphasis on the importance that early to mid 70s rock and glam rock music play in their approach to music.

Glamtastic Review: The album I’d like to have a look at today is EODM’s first, entitled “Peace, love, and Death metal”. What do we have here? The album starts out with the wispy sighs and chunky power chords of “I only want you”. This track was the first single released from the album and it sounds kind of like a sped up “Time of the Season” by “The Zombies”, though the chorus of the EODM tune isn’t nearly as good of course.

The second track, “Speaking in Tongues”, is one of my favourites. The intro, which is reused as a sort of instrumental chorus, is damn catchy. The song is about the urge to dance and that is all you need to know.

A couple other songs that really clung to the ear were “So easy” and “Bad Dream Mama”, both of which made good use of cool, laid back percussion and soothingly simple guitar solos.

The band even manages a half-decent cover of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You”, relabelled “Stuck in the Metal”, a tip of the hat to the music that inspired the band.

I think what really makes this album fun, even on multiple listens, is the effort(?) placed into keeping the album raw. The record almost sounds like a crappy demo...but in a good way. That is, They’ve kept a few outtakes and little conversations here or there in between tracks. I guess it’s just an element that made me feel more involved in the album, like I was sitting behind the mixing board, listening to the group banter.
What I Like About the Album:

-Songs about dancing made me think about dancing.
-The guys don’t go out of their way to seem showcase their musicianship, but the album is still ridiculously catchy because of its simplicity.
- These lyrics: “I said HO! I got this feeling and it's deep in body, It gives me wiggles and it makes my rump shake”.
- The outtakes and one-liners between tracks.

What I Don't like About the Album:

-“Witchy Woman”, “Tequila Sunrise”, “Take it Easy”, and “Hotel California” not on this record (joke).

Verdict: There isn't much that I can say negatively about the album, I thoroughly enjoyed it. "Peace, Love and Death Metal" comes off sounding unfinished or raw but with today's overly produced music, it's a welcomed contrast. It's a good listen if you're interested in an updated glam era sound.
4/5 bottles of your mother’s make-up

"Speaking in Tongues" live on Conan O'Brien. This is unfortunately the best copy I could find of this performance...but it's a good one. See if you can spot the back-up clappers and their nifty mustaches.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jitterbug! Jitterbug!

Glam rock as defined by the world (Wikipedia)

I was pondering to myself the other day and in said pondering, I thought: “I know what glam rock is, there are definitions here and there but really, it’s more than some characteristics in a description. Glam rock promotes a certain feeling in an, how do I Explain it?”

What is this glitter feeling? Where does it come from? How do we release it? Do we even want to release it? Well, we’ve all felt that “glam rock feeling” at one point or another.

You know that twist in your stomach when Tim Curry first pops up in the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, hugged tightly in women’s lingerie, and moaningly belches out the opening lines to “Sweet Transvestite”? The “glam rock feeling” is kind of like that...

You don’t know what that feeling is? You’ve never seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Gasp!


You know when you’re driving in your car and the opening to Wham!’s “Wake me up” plumes out of the radio and you start to sing along at the top of your lungs--not because it’s campy, but because the song infiltrates your soul and squeezes passionate, rhythmic harmonies from your core-- and then you’re getting ready to launch into the second verse but you notice that the vehicle next to yours is filled with teenagers and they’re all pointing and laughing at you and you feel hurt but, oh, then that chorus comes along, and you scream it anyway, singing, singing, SINGING, tinny tears pushing themselves as far away from you as possible?

*pause for breath*

... That is the “glam rock feeling”, people!

You know when you go on a bender and post some incredibly abstract, meandering, seemingly-pointless entry on your blog and then you wake up the next morning and realize the whole world has caught you at your worst?


It is awkward! It is entertaining! It is fun! It is RELEASE!

*End rant, tip out of chair*