Greetings, all ye who are heavy laden. Come in, sit down. Have a pipe. Get down and comfy now as we travel back to 1967, a time of sixes, sevens, and absurd hair-don’ts:
A word on my innocence: I know who David Bowie is. I am a fan. I have listened to a lot of his music over the years and have mostly liked it. However, this has been limited to singles and famous songs and there are maybe only 2 albums I have listened to in their entirety. For the purposes of these posts I will listen to each album, regardless of what I have heard before. I will strive as much as possible to leave any preconceptions at the door for the dogs to chew on, but in many cases that will not be possible, as the dogs are well-fed.
A quick look at the track listing of this debut gives an impression of child-like wonder, with many of the titles giving off the vibe of innocence, while a few of them obviously have a darker tone. Will this mean anything? Does anything mean anything? Lets find out.
Uncle Arthur – Is this about Only Fools And Horses? Was that even around in 67? No, of course not. Jaunty horns, Wicker Man vibe. Sounds like Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. Batman. Uncle Arthur sounds like a 30 something 21st Century man. Visions on spinning around a maypole. Bowie’s voice clear and recognizable. Catchy horns. End.
Sell Me a Coat – Softer horns. I didn’t expect so many horns. Christmasy feeling. Yes! Wintery lyrics. I am a genius. Mono chorus. Neat drumming. Plinky plunky guitars fade in and out. Someone sell the man a coat, he’s bloody freezing. Triumphant despair. Ebenezzer. Ebeneezer? La la finish. Echo.
Rubber Band – Will this be about an incident involving brothers, rubber bands, and an eyeball? More horns. Chappy. In 1910 Bowie was handsome. At over 1oo he’s not looking so bad today. Scones? Or pronounced Sconns? Trump trump trump trump. Up and down. More dates. Rambling lyrics on every track. Collapse. Shouting. End. Hmm.
Love You Till Tuesday – Department store tunes. Would you like to purchase a new scarf, sir? Faster tempo. Accent is clear. Storytelling lyrics. Laughing. I cannot abide laughter in songs. Interesting chorus. Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Swirling strings. Repeat. Da da da dum. I could scoot about Tesco in my trolley to this rightly. Inappropriate comedy ending.
There Is a Happy Land – Underwater chimes. Dreamy. Like a clean up in aisle 5 before opening time. Only children. Yes, lots of child-like things so far. Is this some Bowie thing – adulthood is abhorrent? Lots of pop-culture references. Talky vocals. Ringo-esque drumming. Sgt.Pepper-esque lyrics. Who are these people? If this was released today there would be a mess event. I don’t know what that is. Mouth noises. Yes, I make such noises in the shower.
We Are Hungry Men – News. Like the start of an Eminem album. Exciting. Blips and blaps. More triumph. Futurism messiah. Bowie is a prophet. Was a prophet? A hymn for the end of the world. Keep imagining Syd Barrett singing these. German. Nazi? Legal mass abortion. Risque for 67? I assume so. Shouty vocals. Certainly daring. Swallow. He likes his comedy endings.
When I Live My Dream – Tonight’s the night. Blue Oyster Bar. Floating. More brass. More imaginings and lyrics as if written by an imaginative child. More strings. Yearning. Tell them. Defiance.
Little Bombardier – Similar sounds on each song, lends a coherence, but songs are beginning to blend into each other. Waltz. More characters down on their luck. Strings, brass, drums, Bowie wailing. Accordion? Frankie’s gone to Hollywood. Instrumental section. No guitar solos. Barely any guitars. Some sort of organ. Ooh-er
Silly Boy Blue – Interesting start, vocals merging with strings. Bass. Pied Piper. Anthems of nothing. I thought I had heard this before but I don’t remember it. More la la las. That violin sounds like a bagpipe. Imagine Hamish Macbeth crawling backwards into a Loch with a wry smile. What a silly boy. Swirling end.
Come and Buy My Toys – Nice guitar intro. Can’t escape that Pied Piper vibe. Why can’t I be a child forever. Is David Bowie Michael Jackson? Is Matthew Mark Luke John? I always imagined Christmas before the mid-seventies to be a serenely depressing time.
Join the Gang – Fast. Ooh. Interesting. Buck nuts. Beatles. I’ve just seen a face. Within without. Arthur’s back. Bar fight. Zombie pianist. Organ intrusion. Ooh-er. Groovy. What is going on? Pauses. Kazoo. Farts. Mistake. Gremlins. Explosion. Tearing off your face with a spoon.
She’s Got Medals – Knott’s Landing. Strange sounds. Strange vocals. Strange lyrics. There are many of these on the streets. Comedy. Are medals a euphemism for balls? Is she dead? Yes. No. She has gone AWOL. Van Damme will find her. Claps. No songs should have claps.
Maid of Bond Street – Another story. London. Swinging sixties. Everyone is inviting and lonely. Rapping. Sordid, sad tales. Maids. Multiple.
Please, Mr. Gravedigger – For Whom The Bell Tolls. Footsteps on grass. Creepy. Thriller. Vocals. No music. Recorded with music then music removed? Effects. Wavey vocals as if drunk. Sneeze. Too theatrical. Murder. Talking. Fading. End.
Well, that was good, folks. A typically bizarre sixties entry, I’m not sure if that’s one I would go back to for repeated listens. Stand out track for me was Join The Gang. Rambling over. Let me know your thoughts in the comments – feel free to listen first time and share your feelings, or share your story on your first experience with the album. Were you around at the time of release?