Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Diamond Dogs

Greetings, Glancers! Well well, it’s been over a year since my last Bowie post. I think blasting through his first 7 albums in quick succession hurt me – I needed a break – and during that break I got taken aside by listening to and reviewing a few other artists instead. But today we are back to Bowie.

If you’ve been following my Bowie journey, you’ll have learned that I have been disappointed in what I’ve found and harsh on what I’ve heard. I’m exactly the sort of person that should love Bowie, but so far it just hasn’t worked out, like an awkward teen’s first visit to a strip club. There have been moments, but few and far between, and while I’ve made silly remarks about Bowie only ever writing 3 types of songs the fact remains that I just haven’t been feeling it. I know that I am not a fan of glam rock, the sound and the style and the approach mostly grates on me. I love a variety of artists from the period from which Bowie first emerged. I love artists who have followed similar paths and even covered similar ground. My best guess is that his work doesn’t lend itself well to first time listens, as well as the fact that he has been so hyped for me, by others and by myself. I haven’t yet bothered to go back and listen to any album I’ve already covered – presumably I would gain a greater appreciation with repeated listens, indeed I know this has happened many times with me already, seeing an album become a favourite after being entirely underwhelmed on fist listen. But enough of that for now, lets continue along the path of the beam and see what Bowie has to bark about on Diamond Dogs.

‘Future Legend’. Burpy howl moan. Zombie speak. Concept album then. Nice guitar. Building atmosphere. Cheers.

‘Diamond Dogs’. Lower, deeper vocals than usual. The glam sound is still there, the chugging guitars, melodies ok. Storytelling lyrics again, seem more darker, less fantasy based. Singing like Hendrix. Unusual drums. Howling. Trumpets sneaking in. Woof woof. Fine, nothing exiting. Doesn’t want to end. Trumpet and piano end.

‘Sweet Thing’. Rumbes. Swirling backwards scary bits. Fade into Elton John. Even deeper vocals. Sombre. This is better. Surge. Great vocals. Nice piano accompanying bits. Could do without the sax, but then that’s almost always the case. Good chorus. Sadness. Great solo. Scratched out. Sax and future sounds merge together. Speaking. Accelerating. This is what I’m looking for, greats I’ve somehow missed.

Candidate‘. Scratched out. Sax and future sounds merge together. Speaking. Accelerating. This is what I’m looking for, greats I’ve somehow missed. A nice melding of the songs, true Concept album style.

‘Sweet Thing Reprise’. And back around again. So this is pretty much a single song split into three parts. I love a good concept album, I love songs which flow together like this, so I’m happy. Sudden shift ending with nice flutey bits fading into a bass and guitar chuggathon. I think it’s safe to say this is the best 8 or 10 minutes Bowie has done yet, and I know what’s coming next so this is shaping up to be my favourite album so far by Bowie. Yay!

‘Rebel Rebel’. This is another track I’m familiar with, having taught myself to play on guitar back through the mists of time. It is a terrific riff, and the melodies are great throughout. Not a lot to say on this one as I’m pretty familiar with it. Memories of school chats about guitarists, songs to practice, not sure why I didn’t try to listen to more Bowie back then.

‘Rock And Roll With Me’. Let hope side 2 lives up to Side 1. Ha ha, I see the Manics have ripped off this piano piece in their song As Holy As The Soil (that buries your skin). The similarities continue throughout. Magnificent chorus, great vocals, and more good guitar work. Keep it up! Even the guitar clanging outro is great.

‘We Are The Dead’. I’m getting a John Carpenter vibe from this. Good organ accompaniment. Continuing the strong melodies. Thankfully little aside from the second track has had the usual glam sound of his previous few albums. Growing sound, then tugged back. Lots of lyrics. Burroughs style writing, stream of words and more words descending.

‘1984’. Weird sounds. Disco. Future SHAFT!. Great strings. Funky stuff. Sounds like a Seventies cop show theme tune starring a Gangsta Cop and straight-laced white veteran thrown together. Also sounds like a musical. Also doesn’t really sound like anything else he has done.

‘Big Brother’. Sounds like The Crow soundtrack. More low vocals. Another big chorus. A lot of this sounds incredibly modern, as if it was only recorded in the last few years. The brass parts aren’t actually annoying here. Shift to acoustic guitars. Explode into chorus again. Good stuff.

‘Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family’. Merging with previous song. Quick words. Repeated chants. Funky enough and guitar effects abound, but I generally don’t go for this repetitive stuff. Unless it changes, this feels like a mid-album track rather than an ending. Oh dear, Bowie collapse. End. Well, I feel that could have been stretched and expanded upon to make it a more apt closer, but it’ll have to do.

Success! Now that was an album I will happily listen to again. In many ways that didn’t feel like a Bowie album, given what I’ve heard so far. I don’t know if this was seen as a radical change in direction at the time by fans and critics, and I don’t know what’s coming next. I hope he moves away from the Glam rubbish and towards…. what year are we… 1974? Punk and Disco were still a few years away, and all the 80s crap approaches (maybe Bowie does well in the 80s, I have no idea). So mid-seventies, big ass blues stadium rock and Progressive rock, that’s what I’d like to see – another Bowie concept album, or one packed with riffs and solos. I’m sure that’s about as far away as possible from what he actually recorded next, but for the first time since the start of this endeavor, I’m excited to see what he’ll do next.

 Is this your favourite David Bowie album, or is it closer to the bottom of the pile? Let me know in the comments what your thoughts and memories are of Diamond Dogs.

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