Wednesday, January 30th

Much fabulousness in the news that Robbie Williams is blasting neighbour Jimmy Page with the music of Black Sabbath over a basement-swimming-pool-building-issue. This week, BBC4 returns the Friday Night Jukebox (February 1st at 9pm) to our screens, and, as the BBC’s website says, “Phill Jupitus and Clare Grogan want your stories, dedications and memories about a stack of classic BBC Music performances, around the theme of friendship. Check out the clips page, email jukebox@bbc.co.uk and request a song.” Hopefully sweet music can inspire a rapprochement in Holland Park…

{ONE} PROPS TO CARDI B
… For her take on the US Government shutdown: “I know a lot of y’all don’t care cos y’all don’t work for the government, or y’all don’t even have a job, but this shit is really f*cking serious… Our country is in a hell hole right now, all for a f*cking wall. I feel like we need to take some action. I don’t know what type of action, ’cos this is not what I do, but I’m scared. And I feel bad for these b*tches that got to go to f*cking work to not get motherf*cking paid.” Talking of previous government shutdowns, like Obama’s 2013 standoff in the name of universal healthcare, she said they had been for logical and important reasons: “Yeah b*tch!” For health care, so your grandma could check her blood pressure.”

In GQ last year, she revealed that she’s into “political science”, American civics history, and can even name every single American president in order of term. “I love government. I’m obsessed with presidents. I’m obsessed to know how the system works.” Her favourite pres is Franklin D. Roosevelt – “He helped us get over the Depression, all while he was in a wheelchair. Like, this man was suffering from polio at the time of his presidency, and yet all he was worried about was trying to make America great – make America great again for real.”

{TWO} CLASSIC ALBUM SUNDAYS: ARETHA!
Listening to I Never Loved a Man and Lady Soul at CAS’s get together at Brilliant Corners, I was struck most by songs that I would have probably regarded as filler back in the Seventies. Maybe because their edges weren’t blunted by familiarity, it was great to listen to the mighty grooves of “Save Me”, “Niki Hoeky”, “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” and “Come Back Baby”. Of course, really clear and present sound from a £10,000 system helps to up the thrill factor – it was a great way to be reacquainted with the killer combo of Tommy Cogbill and Roger Hawkins on bass and drums. The sheer heft and thump was something to behold, and Cogbill’s syncopation on top of Hawkins’ verve energises these performances. And in the time before the playbacks started, Coleen Murphy played an extraordinary Nina Simone live version of “Young, Gifted and Black” – I was glad to hear someone else say “I’ve never heard that!”, so it wasn’t just me…

And in The Guardian, this street art tribute to Aretha, made by Jim Bachor.
“Inspired to make mosaics after a trip to Italy in the late 90s, Bachor has become the pothole guy, decorating holes in streets with colourful designs ranging from chickens to Aretha Franklin’s face,” wrote Naomi Larsson.

{THREE} DAVY/RONNIE
From a London Jazz Collector piece on British saxophonist, Ronnie Ross. “Apart from leaving behind good music, he also left some good anecdotes, including this story, from a September 2003 Rolling Stone magazine interview with David Bowie, in actuality David Jones, on his formative years in London’s leafy suburb of Bromley [or maybe it’s in Kent; there are many arguments over this fact – ed]

Rolling Stone: Your first instrument was the saxophone. Why the sax?
David Bowie: My brother was a huge jazz fan. He played me way-out stuff like Eric Dolphy and Coltrane. I wanted a baritone, but I got an alto sax.
RS: Did you take lessons?
DB: Ronnie Ross – who was featured in Downbeat as one of the great baritone players – lived locally, so I looked in the telephone book, and I rung him up. I said, “Hi, my name is David Jones, and I’m twelve years old, and I want to play the saxophone. Can you give me lessons?” He sounded like Keith [Richards], and he said no. But I begged until he said, “If you can get yourself over here Saturday morning, I’ll have a look at you.” He was so cool. Much later on, when I was producing Lou Reed, we decided we needed a sax solo on the end of “Walk on the Wild Side.” So I got the agent to book Ronnie Ross. He pulled out a wonderful solo in one take. Afterwards, I said, “Thanks, Ron. Should I come over to your house on Saturday morning?” He said, “I don’t fucking believe it! You are Ziggy Stardust?”

THREE EXTRA This interesting conversation between Phil G and John A from the New York Times on Adams conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the premiere of Glass’s Symphony No. 12, [Lodger], based on Bowie, Eno and Visconti’s album. “The great thing about American music is the total bleed-through of, if you want to call it that, high or low, popular versus art. I think both Philip and I share this. We have very loose filters in terms of classification.”

{FOUR} ACOUSTASONIC?
I’m not convinced that this will have a huge audience, and it may be, as one comment on YouTube put it, “the answer to a question no one asked”, but it is pretty cool…

Moses Sumney, Acoustasonic

{FIVE} GO MARTY!
If you love the Rolling Thunder Tour (as I do), yet find Ronaldo and Clara turgid (as I do), then this is excellent news: “Netflix has confirmed the existence of a new Martin Scorsese-directed Bob Dylan documentary, due to launch on the streaming service later in 2019. Scorsese previously directed 2005’s No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, concerning Dylan’s rise to fame in the early to mid-’60s. According to publicity material, Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese captures the troubled spirit of America in 1975 and the joyous music that Dylan performed during the fall of that year. Part documentary, part concert film, part fever dream, Rolling Thunder is a one of a kind experience, from master filmmaker Martin Scorsese.”

{OH!} BEFORE I GO…
This beautiful piece of writing on Sonny Rollins by Liam Noble, which ends with: “I am saying this because he is still alive. I want him to know. There are too many obituaries.”

Wednesday, January 24

ONE THERE’S POOR, AND THERE’S REALLY POOR
A bar/cafe at Stansted Airport, themed around illustrious musicians (sadly, I kid you not). In reality this means a wall of Black and White 12 x 15 framed prints, and this, a wall of names, graphically arranged.

5-illustrious

So we have the ungainly clashes of Muse/Fish and Chips, and Uriah Heep/Fresh, and Depeche Mode seem to have merged with the Rolling Stones… And don’t forget the legendary Ozzy Osb, and Ethro Tull. “I’ll have the Rod Stewart Inergarder, please…”

TWO FOR ART’S SAKE… 
I’m really appreciative of Sky Arts, although they have a worrying tendency to hire people to make programmes about themselves, saying how great they are. They rock this approach with Melvyn Bragg’s hymn of praise to The South Bank Show now that it’s left ITV for Sky. Almost two hours of weirdly unsatisfying clips from thirty years of programme-making, linked by Melv standing coldly on various bits of the windswept South Bank and bigging up himself, before cutting to people like David Puttnam who also big him up. Strange.
I’ve just started another Sky Arts series, Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge, a history of the magazine. I may be sensitized to this puffery as I’ve just Read 50 Years of Rolling Stone, a (somewhat) entertaining hagiography that I’m reviewing. The documentary comes laced with the same sense of baby-boomer self-congratulation as the book – I assume all this RS looking back activity was an attempt to drive up the price before Jann Wenner sold the company. Anyhow, the first episode reminds you of the brilliance of its writing in the Sixties, especially Hunter S Thompson on Nixon, interesting to read at this point in history:
“This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves – that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else that tries to make us uncomfortable. Jesus, where will it end – how low do you have to stoop in this country to be President? It is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal, incurably violent side of the American character. He speaks for the werewolf in us, the bully, the predatory shyster who turns into something unspeakable on the nights where the moon comes too close”

THREE YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EARS…
…as Buddy Holly calls his record company to ask for his songs back. A man never far from a tape recorder, he turned it on for the call. Found via Messy Nessy’s 13 Things I Found on the Internet Today.

FOUR I POST THIS WITH NO COMMENT…
Nando’s has opened a music studio at one of their main London restaurants, giving budding musicians the chance to lay down their own tracks while chowing down on chicken, reported the NME. The studio has been opened at Nando’s in Frith Street, Soho, and will give successful applicants the chance to record their own music with the help of an in-house studio engineer and pioneering equipment including a Neumann U87 microphone. “We’re really excited to open our first music space, both for our growing network of artists and also for our fans looking for a unique experience in the restaurant. Some of the best ideas have started over Peri-Peri (or so we’re told), so we’re looking forward to hearing what happens when we bring together chicken and tunes!”, a Nando’s spokesperson said.

FIVE PRANCING IN THE STREET!
What happens if you take the music away from Mick Jagger and David Bowie’s take on “Dancing in the Street” and cruelly imagine how the vocals may have sounded as they danced? This… 

 

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Extra!

[INSERT DAVID BOWIE SONG-OR-LYRIC-BASED HEADLINE HERE]*
It’s a wet Wednesday night in Soho in 1971-ish London. A group of school friends who meet to rehearse and play Creedence Clearwater, Marc Bolan and Atomic Rooster songs have decided that they should find a pub to play in (if any will take them). They have tried busking on Waterloo Bridge until their portable amp has died, and they haven’t even made enough in four freezing hours to replace the battery.

They walk into The Sun and 13 Cantons, on the corner of Great Pulteney and Beak streets. In the corner are two men with guitars working their way through recent pop smashes – Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, Dave Edmunds’ version of Smiley Lewis’s “I Hear You Knocking”, Terry Jacks “Seasons in the Sun”, Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue”

The boys buy halves of lager and lime, that early version of an alcopop, and study everything. Guitars, amps, the acoustics of the room – mostly things that they have little or no knowledge about – are assessed, discussed. When the men finish they move closer to ask questions: How much do you get paid? Is the audience always this small? Do you need it to be bigger to actually get paid? Do they pay you in money or drink? What songs go down well?

The men are Scottish and seem old to the boys, but they’re probably in their forties. Their answers start out gruffly, but they show patience at this naked attempt to suck up their hard-won knowledge, to go away and practice, all in the hope of coming back and stealing their Wednesday night gig off them.

And as the boys have exhausted their lines of questioning and start to leave, the older of the two men calls to them at the door in a deep Scottish accent, “Oh, and lads, whatever you do… whatever you do – Don’t. Play. No. Bowie…”

*Actually, there are just no more left now…

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: DAVID BOWIE, US ESQUIRE, MARCH 2004 ISSUE
A couple of excerpts:
You’re never who you think you are. Sometime in the Eighties, an old lady approached me and asked, “Mr Elton, may I have your autograph?” I told her that I wasn’t Elton but David Bowie. She replied, “Oh, thank goodness. I couldn’t stand his red hair and all that makeup.”

They’re never who you think they are. When I first came to the US, around 1971, my New York guide told me one day that The Velvet Underground were to play later that night at the Electric Circus, which was about to close. I got to the gig early and positioned myself at the front by the lip of the stage. The performance was great, and I made sure that Lou Reed could see that I was a true fan by singing along to all the songs. After the show, I moved to the side of the stage to where the door of the dressing room was located. I knocked, and one of the band members answered. After a few gushing compliments, I asked if I could have a few words with Lou. He looked bemused but told me to wait a second. After only moments, Lou came out, and we sat and talked about songwriting for 10 minutes or so. I left the club floating on cloud nine – a teenage ambition achieved. The next day, I told my guide what a blast it had been to see The Velvets live and meet Lou Reed. He looked at me quizzically for a second, then burst into laughter. “Lou left the band some time ago,” he said. “You were talking to his replacement, Doug Yule.”

Five Things: Wednesday 3rd April

‘January 26, 1962: Passed Dylan on the street, he said to me that he “didn’t know why so many things are happening to me.” I said that he did.’
Michael Gray writes a very nice piece on Izzy Young on the occasion of his 85th birthday. A couple of years ago in Stockholm we sat with Izzy outside his office, the Folklore Centrum, having tea with Sarah Blasko (Izzy is a magnet for any musician of a certain bent who happens to be in town). Here’s a photo of some of Izzy’s files. I’m guessing Irene relates to ‘Goodnight, Irene.’

Izzy's Bookshelf
After we leave, Sam (Charters) tells me that the last time Bob Dylan played in Stockholm, Bob’s people arranged for Izzy to meet him, and he ended up having a chat to Bob by the side of the bus. As they said goodbye, Izzy grabbed Dylan’s cheeks and waggled them, like a Jewish grandfather would do to his grandson. Security! Nobody touches Bob! Bob, however, burst out laughing… Sam said that Bob’s road manager told him it was the only time he saw Bob laugh on the whole tour…

Izzy2

BP Garage, Clapham Common Northside, Thursday
A man in front of me is slowly paying for petrol and weird “garage” shopping: A bottle of wine, Jelly Babies, Screen Wash, Iced Buns…  so I idly pick up the new Bowie CD. He looks at me and says “Dreadful cover,” about Jonathan Barnbrooke’s white square over Heroes. I disagree and say that the fact that it created thousands of memes proves that it worked as one part of Bowie’s brilliant stealth marketing for The Next Day’s release. Who’s been that excited about an album launch in years? He smiles, says fair point, and Exits Garage Left.

We Love Site-Specific Street Signs & Slang!
“Artist Jay Shells channeled his love of hip hop music and his uncanny sign-making skills towards a brand new project: Rap Quotes. For this ongoing project, Shells created official-looking street signs quoting famous rap lyrics that shout out specific street corners and locations. He then installed them at those specific street corners and locations.” More here.

Signs

emusic Find of the Month
Marnie Stern, downloaded because of its title: The Chronicles Of Marnia. She’s a really talented “shredding” (ask the kids) guitarist who seems to have made an album that references Battles and Braids. It’s manic & great & slightly odd—fretboard squalling, swooping vocal whoops and wild drumming… Somehow I was disappointed that the cover wasn’t more like this…

The Voyage of the Dawn Shredder

The Voyage of the Dawn Shredder

 

Reading The Guardian Magazine two weeks after publication, and finding Stephen Collins being brilliant. Again.
Collins

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 16th January

Marianne Faithfull interview, The Guardian
The Guardian: There’s a fantastic YouTube clip of you in 1973, wearing a nun’s outfit, singing with David Bowie at the Marquee club. It’s like watching an early Lady Gaga.
Marianne Faithfull: “I’ve known that ever since Lady Gaga came along­—I did it much better and long before you! Working with David Bowie was very interesting, but I couldn’t surrender to it. I should have let him produce a record for me, but I’m very perverse in some ways. He’s brilliant, but the entourage were rather daunting.”

It’s amazing how large the Marquee looks in this clip. It was a tiny place, but the US tv crew filming this special in ’73 have made it seem much more expansive. I remember the band looming over the audience. And the costumes. I remember the costumes. But very little else, so it was great to see the space-rock Sonny & Cher again, and to hear the lovely guitar obbligato from Mick Ronson.

I Should Have Known…
“What is the Obscurometer? Simply put, it’s a tool to measure just how obscure the music you listen to is.” And with that, people who are—or were—in bands, typed their bandnames into the dialogue box and hit return. And, I’m guessing, got a similar result percentage-wise…

Obscureometer

Excellent David Bailey quote
I once saw the world’s grumpiest photographer give a lecture at the Marble Arch Odeon in London. Everyone before him had done lavish slide shows with overviews of their ouevre. Bailey handed a polaroid to a person in the first row and asked them to pass it along. So it was passed along, row by row, as he talked brilliantly about his career, cameras, lenses, models… In the Guardian Weekend Questionnaire he was asked Which living person do you most admire?, and answered: Bob Dylan, because he is like a singing Picasso.

Motörhead: “Down. Down. Stop! Up, Up, A Little Bit, A Bit More—Great, That’s It!”
Lemmy has launched a line of Motörhead branded headphones in the United States. Specifically made for listening to rock music, the all-metal headphones are called Motörheadphönes. “People say we’ve never sold out. No one ever approached us,” said Lemmy, at the US launch earlier this week. I didn’t realise until recently that I saw a very early Motörhead gig (their eleventh), supporting Blue Oyster Cult at the Hammersmith [remember No Sleep ’til Hammersmith?] Odeon. We had gone because BOC had a kind of rock-crit cachet as being “intellegent” hard rock. My lasting memory was of Larry Wallis trying to tune his guitar between songs without turning off his fuzz box (ah, loved those pre-electric tuner days) and getting helped by the audience, as illustrated by the headline…

This Guitar, British Heart Foundation Charity Shop, £25
Made in Valencia by the firm of Vicente Tatay Tomás—not top of the line— with a huge crack along back held down by sellotape (but hey, hasn’t Wille Nelson proved that extra holes in guitars have no effect on the tone…)

Guitar

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 9th January

Weird iPod Synchronicity Pt4: Hyde Park Corner, London
As Lana Del Ray sparks into life in my headphones, hitting the chorus of Day At The Races [And I’m off to the races/Cases of Bacardi chasers/Chasing me all over town…] a trap and four outriders, all jodhpurs, riding hats & crops, trots in front of the bus, past Apsley House, and makes their way into Hyde Park.

On The Road Again
Fact Of The Week: At number 17 in the Highest Earning World Tours last year, Leonard Cohen is ahead (at £28.4 million) of Justin Bieber… and at Number 27, The Black Keys are ahead of Celine Dion, having grossed $23.5 million. The Black Keys. $23.5 million. Wow…

emusic Find Of The Month: Menahan Street Band, The Crossing
Recorded in a studio paid for by a Jay Z sample, by some of the musicians behind Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley’s sound, mostly during the night, this instrumental album is wonderful. Some of it is Spaghetti Western, some a kind of handicraft Portishead—try Ivory & Blue: jazz horns, soulful wah-wah guitar, funky Seventies pop drumming. Just the right amount of loose, just the right amount of tight, just the right amount of great.

Jeff Buckey: Three Films In Pipeline…
But the one I’m looking forward to (Brendan Fletcher’s A Pure Drop) is written by the fabulously named Train Houston. You’d have to gravitate towards music in some form with a name like Train Houston.

Bowie Back, Nile Rogers Bio, Letters Of Note
One the evening before David Bowie’s return to PopWorld™ I was reading Nile Rodgers’ very entertaining biography Le Freak, and had reached the part where he talks about recording Let’s Dance with the label-less Bowie.

“As I say to vocalists who are singing a little flat, sharp, or out-of-the-pocket, We’re in the neighbourhood, but we haven’t found the house yet.” David Bowie helped me find the house.

Not long after I arrived in Switzerland, Bowie strolled into my bedroom with a guitar.“Hey, Nile, listen to this, I think it could be a hit.” What followed was was a folksy sketch of a composition with a solid melody: the only problem was it sounded to me like Donovan meets Anthony Newley. And I don’t mean that as a compliment. I’d been mandated to make hits, and could only hear what was missing… I started reworking the song. I soon discovered the diamond in the rough.

[We] asked Claude Nobs, creator of the Montreux Jazz Festival, to round up a handful of local musicians… gone were the strummy chords… I’d replaced them with staccato stabs and a strict harmonic interpretation. I used silence and big open spaces to keep the groove and kept rearranging it on the spot, like I always did with Chic. David quickly got down with the reshaping of his song. We had a lot of fun and laughter in that Swiss studio with those terrific musicians… Laughter is the key to my sessions—the unconditionally loving parent in the room.”

And from Letters Of Note: In November of 1970, a month after signing a five-year publishing deal with Chrys­alis Music, 24-year-old David Bowie wrote the following letter to Bob Grace, the man who signed him, and briefly filled him in on his life so far:

November 17th, 1970
Haddon Hall

Mr. Bob Grace
Chrysalis Music Ltd
388/398 Oxford Street
London W1

Dear Bob
I was born in Brixton and went to some Schools thereabout and studied Art. Then I went into an Advertising Agency which I didn’t like very much. Then I left and joined some Rock ’n’ Roll Bands playing Saxophone and I sang some which nobody liked very much.

As I was already a Beatnik, I had to be a Hippie and I was very heavy and wrote a lot of songs on some beaches and some people liked them. Then I recorded Space Oddity and made some money and spent it which everybody liked.

Now I am 24 and I am married and I am not at all heavy and I’m still writing and my wife is pregnant which I like very much.

LOVE DAVID

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 5th September

Black Tie White Noise
Evening Standard, last week. Bowie disputes claims made in the Observer by the V&A that he is co-curating the [Bowie Costumes] show. “Contrary to recently published reports: I did not participate in any decisions relating to the exhibition. A close friend of mine tells me that I am neither ‘devastated,’ ‘heartbroken,’ nor made ‘uncontrollably furious,’ by this news item.”

Really?
Interview with Kevin McDonald, Director of Touching The Void and Marley: “Q: Why do you think Marley’s music has proved so enduring? A: He wrote incredibly good tunes. Bob wrote more standards than almost anybody else, apart from Lennon and McCartney.” Did he? Standards? I Shot The Sheriff, Redemption Song, One Love, Three Little Birds, No Woman, No Cry, sure, but are his songs covered regularly, in the way that standards are? Marley’s number 211 on the SecondHandSongs database, a pretty comprehensive list of the most-covered songwriters, some way below Ozzy Osbourne and Marvin Gaye.

I Can Hear That Whistle Blowin’
My friend Steve Way on Duquesne Whistle: “Dylan vid weird. Like Bob is doing a phone ad song, and the director is doing a Sundance lo-fi Korean remake.” True say, Steve, but the world may be a better place for having this song in it—the chorus and thick, dirty riff are just joyous. Duquesne is a city along the Monongahela River in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Earl Hines, legendary jazz pianist, was born there. He signed my autograph book once.

I love that—”To, Martin, keep with it” written by Sinclair Traill, editor of Jazz Journal, who then joked around with Earl and they ended up signing their names as Sinclair Hines and Earl Traill…

“Even Cathy Berberian Knows/There’s One Roulade She Can’t Sing.”
The wonderfully titled Berberian Sound Studio featuring Toby Jones opens this week, named for Cathy Berberian, American soprano of the avant-garde. With Umberto Eco she translated works by Jules Feiffer and Woody Allen into Italian. You couldn’t make that sort of detail up. Eco nicknamed her magnificathy. Steely Dan paid their own tribute in the lyric above, from Your Gold Teeth on the Countdown To Ecstacy album.

Musical Marylebone
A few streets separate Joe’s monstrous urban flyover and John’s rather luxe pad. Of course, John’s background was rather more flyover than Joe’s…

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 1st August

Busker, Waterloo Station, 29 July
Playing Jimi Hendrix riffs. Not songs—just riffs. I figure he thinks that the most anyone hears is about 25 seconds, and that he should stick to what he does best, which involves a lot of flashy hand waving and facial grimacing. I gave him £1 for the way he fluttered his hand away from the strings after playing a particularly nice Purple Haze pastiche.

Stand Up For Senegal!
Alone among the national anthems that I’ve heard at this Olympics, the Senegalese song doesn’t have militaristic percussion and brassy horns. It actually has a pretty, pastoral tune, which seemed to float round the stadium rather than bounce off the metal girders, as Uruguay’s did. Senegal went on to float past the Uruguayan defence and win 2-0, playing with ten men for most of the match.

Sounds In Silence
Re-parking the car late the other night. The street is eerily quiet, as is the car, and the radio unexpectedly leaps into life at top volume. Jesus! But it’s only our old friends, Simon and Garfunkel, singing The Sound Of Silence, in the Tom Wilson “Folk Rock Overdub Mix”. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really listened to this but it’s great. Subtly done, albeit in a chart-friendly kind of way, with Bobby Gregg particularly good on drums as he follows Simon’s fingerpicked acoustic. But it’s such a strange notion, isn’t it—to, without the knowledge, cooperation or consent of the act, re-shape the track so radically. And, in the process, reform the act and help to make it huge.

How We Made… The Piano. The Guardian, August 1st
MICHAEL NYMAN Composer/“I had listened to recordings of Holly Hunter, who played Ada, performing Bach and Brahms and thought she’d be best suited to reflective, lyrical music—and useless at the usual Michael Nyman-type stuff. I must have pitched it right because she played with an emotional power that still influences me whenever I perform the score. The soundtrack helped define the feel of the film as it was shooting: Hunter said, as she accepted her Oscar, that it helped her create the character of Ada.”
JANE CAMPION, Director/“The only brief I gave Michael was to compose quite a few pieces that we could choose from. I let him have free rein, but we’d discuss what he’d done and I’d tell him if something could be sadder or happier. When he first visited, I hired a piano thinking he’d want to work through a few ideas, but he sat down, played a couple of notes, and said: Let’s go shopping! I assumed this was a musical genius at work, so decided I’d better go along with it. I trailed him all afternoon, while he bought a shirt and watched some cricket. Finally, I asked if he’d had any thoughts and he said he’d decided to research Scottish folk songs. I knew immediately that this was perfect.”

Bowie: Backsides/Mugshots
Stumbled across two David Bowie artifacts this week: A bootleg of a 1980 TV Show recorded at the Marquee Club, Wardour Street, London, in late October 1973 for the American TV show Midnight Special. I remember that somehow we got tickets and queued down the Soho street for hours to get in. I wasn’t a great Bowie aficionado but I do remember the show, with all its stop/start filming and endless retakes, as being really thrilling. Bowie was backed by the Spiders From Mars, but with Aynsley Dunbar on drums. Luckily, Mick Rock, who was photographing it, wrote about it for Music Scene: “The space in the Marquee is too limited to permit the requisite number of cameras to film simultaneously, so each song had to be reshot from different angles several times. This entailed as many as five or six performances of the same song…. the atmosphere generated by Bowie’s own unique craziness swiftly transformed the clubhouse into something closely resembling a circus ring – Dali style. Throughout Bowie was very patient, very up. He filled in the intervals between takes rapping with the audience, teasing, laughing. After each song he would disappear immediately, reappearing dramatically on cue for the next one in a new costume. He was joined by Marianne Faithfull, in a nun’s cowl and black cape, for the last song, the old Sonny and Cher hit, I Got You Babe. He frolicked about in the true spirit of the song while Marianne watched him, deadpan throughout. During one long break between takes she turned and left the stage, and paraded a pretty bare bottom, as the split in her cape flew open.” I remember that quite vividly.

Secondly, this, the most composed, fashion-forward police mugshot of all time.

“David Bowie, Iggy Pop and two female friends were busted for felony possession of half a pound of marijuana back in March of 1976 at the Americana Hotel in Rochester, N.Y., following a nearby concert. Bowie was held in the Monroe County jail for a few hours before being freed on bail—but this swanky mug shot wasn’t taken until he returned a few days later to face arraignment. The four ended up skating on all charges.”—Joe Robinson, diffuser.fm

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