Thursday, April 24, 2014

David Bowie - Aladdin Sane

As the sequel to Ziggy Stardust, this album is another of Bowie's best and most rockin' and this 30th anniversary 2-CD edition is again, well worthwhile.

If anything, this record might even be a tad better than Ziggy, at least to my ears, simply due to the increase in the heaviness, as with the opener "Watch That Man", where the entire band is truly smokin'. Which is not to say that there aren't parts that are a bit less intense, as in the piano-led title track, although there is a darkness here and the almost free-jazz piano break is wonderfully atonal. There's a bit of a 50's r'n'r feel to the futuristic visions of "Drive-In Saturday" and another hard-rock chord riff that drives "Panic in Detroit". One of the biggest, most feedback-laden, wah-wah drenched "E" chords opens the fantastically sleazy "Cracked Actor" - right up there with the best the man ever did.

Side two of the vinyl opened a bit quieter with "Time", but this, too, builds up to pounder with a sing-along ending and some super-cool guitar licks. Again, there is somewhat of an updated 50's/doo-wop feel to "The Prettiest Star" and here Ronson's melodic leads shine once more. There is a wildly chaotic, high-energy take on the Stones "Let's Spend the Night Together" and then a "I'm a Man" steal in "The Jean Genie", with just Bowie's idiosyncratic lyrics separating it from a Yardbirds-styled blues number - in fact, Jeff Beck was known to sit in with them on this tune on occasion. The album ended with the pretty piano/cabaret of "Lady Grinning Soul", complete with strains of classical guitar.

The bonus CD here includes yet another take of "John, I'm Only Dancing" along with single mixes of "The Jean Genie" and "Time". The version of "All The Young Dudes", which was given to Mott the Hoople as their first hit, seems more fleshed out than a simple demo - think maybe he considered releasing it himself at some point. Live versions from the Music Hall in Boston appear of "Changes", "The Supermen", "Life on Mars" and (yes,again) "John, I'm Only Dancing". "The Jean Genie" is a live take from the Santa Monica Civic Center and the set finishes with a live acoustic version of "Drive In Saturday" taken from Cleveland's Public Hall.

Again, fine extras means that this is the set to get of this terrific album!