You’re Lost Little Girl – Song Of The Day

Doors

From The Doors‘ 1967 album Strange Days, which was comprised of songs that didn’t make it onto their debut, self-titled album, is “You’re Lost Little Girl”, a song written by guitarist Robby Krieger. While the track was not released as a single, it was still one great, underrated tune from the iconic band. It’s a bittersweet ballad with a sinister feel and the usual otherworldly tone set by Jim Morrison‘s haunting voice.

Earthling – Album Review

Earthling

David Bowie released the album Earthling back in 1997 and, although it wasn’t too big of a hit in terms of sales, it was critically well received.

Let’s see if it’s dated well.

The opening song is “Little Wonder” and it was the second single to be released from the album. In fact, it did better than any of the songs on Earthling reaching number 14 in the charts. The track kicks off with a disjointed garage beat which comes and goes. The whole thing is best described as playful experimental Brit Pop with a catchy hook buried in a sea of conflicting rhythms and Snow White references. It is followed by “Looking For Satellites”, which also has a clubby vibe and sounds a bit like something Blur and Oasis would have cooked up together if they had gotten along.

“Battle For Britain (The Letter)” is next and you can expect more of that garage beat and some grungy guitar work from Reeves Gabrels. It’s another track which purposely goes all over the place, even jumping headfirst into random piano solos near the end. Clearly Bowie was having fun playing around with remixes in this album.

“Seven Years In Tibet” is a slower track and it’s also the last one to be released as a single. There’s a regular core beat to the song with increasingly elaborate effects and instruments backing it. The chorus is simply fantastic with the guitar kicking in and turning the song into a rocky anthem. You get the feeling that the band TV On The Radio were influenced greatly by this one.

“Dead Man Walking” is another erratic dancy single you could probably find in quite a few clubs in the late 90’s but this one has a much more Bowie vibe, at least in terms of melody. It was used in the film The Saint and includes a guitar riff once used in Supermen which was taught to Bowie by Jimmy Page. Far prefer the terrific acoustic version to this one, personally.

“Telling Lies” opens with whispers floating over a repeating garage beat. It’s a very layered track as Bowie accuses using the song’s title both in real time and in slow-mo and the whole thing speeds up and slows down at unexpected times. The chorus is the most accessible part of this one, which is another experimental exercise in controlled messiness. As is its follow-up “The Last Thing You Should Do”, which also goes all over the place. At this point, the album has become basically impenetrable and it couldn’t care less: it’s having too good a time.

“I’m Afraid Of Americans” is much more involving in that it’s got a more interesting rhythm to hang onto and the hook kicks in early. The track was co-written by Brian Eno and it’s surprising it wasn’t released as a single since it’s got loads of attitude and a raw energy to it which would have played well on the radio despite its not-so-pro-US lyrics.

“Law (Earthlings On Fire)” is the final track on the album and it’s a dancy one with distorted voices, melodies popping in and out and a purely electronic structure. It’s a far more enjoyable clubby tune than some of the others on Earthling as it keeps throwing musically interesting little bits and bobs throughout.

What to make of Earthling, then?

Here’s one album which should divide David Bowie fans completely. Earthling really is the artist going for something radically different, tackling new remixing techniques and jumping into a Brit Pop techno vibe completely. The good news is this makes for some truly wacky songs full of creativity, the bad news is it’s a little too hard to pierce through the wall of eclectic beats and distortions to enjoy Earthling as an album rather than just a curious piece of late 90’s frenzy. Those who enjoy club music should have a ball with this one but others will probably be turned off by the album early on.

That’s only 2 Ziggies out of 5 for Earthling, mostly because it just doesn’t sound quite Bowie enough making it a much less likeable outing than any of its successors.

Still cool to see the man tackle yet another musical style altogether and keeping up with the times, though. Plus the cover art for the album is one of my personal favourites.

Ziggy MAskZiggy MAsk

‘Hours…’ – Album Review

Hours

In 1999, David Bowie released the album ‘Hours…’ and it enjoyed mixed reviews, some critics calling it a masterpiece, others a lesser work from the music icon.

Is it one of Bowie’s best?

Let’s take a listen.

The first track on the album is also the first single to be released from it. “Thursday’s Child” has a pensive, moody vibe to it with a very 90’s beat underneath it all and choir-style backing vocals. It’s a song that’s both upbeat and downbeat somehow making it an intriguing listen, even if it’s not that catchy. It is followed by “Something In The Air”, an initially slower track which builds up confidently to a rockier and, in fact, very cool bridge and chorus. Great guitar work throughout this one, I should point out.

“Survive” is next and it’s a bit like a mix of the first two songs in that it’s both nostalgic and hopeful but also has an effective build up and a terrific guitar sound. It’s an atmospheric tune which aims to get a particular feeling, mood across and it does that perfectly. It’s the third single to be released from the album and its video sees a long-haired Bowie float around a kitchen.

As you do.

The following song is “If I’m Dreaming My Life” and Bowie goes down low vocally for this one. It’s a moody, kickass track which a growing and shrinking rhythm, poetic lyrics, a fab melody and a fantastic chorus. One of the best tracks on the album, definitely. Why this song wasn’t a single I’ll never know.

Speaking of singles, “Seven” was the last song to be released as one from ‘Hours…’. Written by both Bowie and Reeves Gabrels, it’s a beautiful, mostly acoustic track with a perfect build-up, an irresistible melody, a catchy hook and, again, a terrific guitar. My personal favourite on the album. Screeching guitars open the more retro “What’s Really Happening?”, a killer rock tune that feels like a classic from the very first note. Again, this is a single if I ever heard one.

The album picks up even more with really fun single “The Pretty Things Are going To Hell”, another rockier track with heavier guitars and a chorus designed for maximum live effect. This is probably the closest you’ll hear David Bowie get to doing metal so it’s pretty awesome, as you can imagine. Expect more excellent work from guitarist/co-writer Reeves Gabrels.

The next track is “New Angels Of Promise” and it’s another cracking, very Bowie tune with a cool chorus, some simply brilliant vocal work and a grungy, punky vibe throughout. This feels more like an early 90’s/late 80’s effort than a song recorded in 1999 and that’s a good thing for sure. “Brilliant Adventure” is more of a transitional ambient track and it has a very Eastern, Middle Eastern even, feel. It’s short but very pretty.

Finally, we have “The Dreamers”, which opens with short booms, then gives way to a faster rhythm and then a more disjointed, dancier one. It’s a retro-sounding, experimental track which tries a whole bunch of different things, all of which somehow work. It’s typical Bowie throwing something unpredictable at you to end the album on a high, creative note.

It’s surprising that critics were not all that emphatic about ‘Hours…’ as it’s easily one of David Bowie’s most underrated efforts. For such a short album, you’ve got a lot of great, memorable stuff in there. From the more atmospheric, slower tracks to the rockier ones, it’s pretty much all good: the singles prove themselves to be worthy and even the non-singles sound like they could have enjoyed a comfortable release of their own.

‘Hours…’ is an under-appreciated gem from Mr Bowie and it gets 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us.

Ziggy MAskZiggy MAskZiggy MAskZiggy MAsk

Legal Tender – Song Of The Day

Whammy

The first single to be released from The B-52’s 1983 album Whammy!, “Legal Tender” was a hit for the band with Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson sharing vocals on it. The New Wave synth-led track was as fun as you’d expect from those guys and so was the colourful video. It’s, quite simply, irresistible.

Heathen – Album Review

Heathen

Released in 2002, Heathen was seen as something of a comeback for David Bowie, at least in terms of how well it did in the charts. It not only enjoyed a notable success in sales but with critics also.

Heathen opens with “Sunday”, an atmospheric track which leads you into the album slowly, with a downbeat vibe. It kicks off just as the song ends, leaving you wanting more. Luckily, it is quickly followed by a very cool cover of The Pixies‘ “Cactus”, written by frontman Black Francis. Short and sweet is the best way to describe this one: a delicious, rock n’ roll appetiser for what follows.

“Slip Away” is next and it’s a jazzy, nostalgic tune with Mr Bowie in full crooner mode. There’s a soothing 60’s feel to the track in general but the beautiful chorus is pure David Bowie and the whole thing you could see at home in a full-on musical. One of the prettiest tracks on the album, without a doubt. Pete Townshend accompanies on guitar in the following track “Slow Burn” which was the first single to be released from Heathen. It’s also the track which earned Bowie a Grammy award nomination for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and rightly so: “Slow Burn” is a fantastic song with fab vocals, guitar work and one hell of a chorus.

“Afraid” is next and it looks set to be the rockiest track yet with its fast-paced riffs when the chorus kicks in and, surprisingly, slows things down little by little adding an unexpected dose of regret and melancholy to the song. “I’ve Been Waiting For You”, a cover of an old Neil Young song follows and that one has Dave Grohl on guitar, delivering some welcome screeching backing twangs. It’s a terrific cover with a grungy tone, and you’d never guess the song originally dates back to 1968.

The seventh track is “I Would Be Your Slave” and, like the opening song, it’s a more atmospheric effort though this one has a sadder, more desperate feel to it. The non-intrusive synth backing (and guitar) do a good job at enhancing Bowie’s vocals, giving the beautiful lyrics even more weight. A cover of an old psychobilly song is next and proves that you just can’t go wrong with a song entitled “I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spacecraft”. Originally by Legendary Stardust Cowboy, the song is part-jazz, part-soul, a mish-mash of different styles which works surprisingly well, especially when the bridge kicks in.

“5:15 The Angels Have Gone” opens small with subdued backing choirs, a few guitar picks and lonely beats. There’s a bit of a surreal quality to the song which changes completely whenever the chorus pops up. It’s a slightly bizarre one but the verses are so pretty they make it well worth it. The second single to be released from Heathen, “Everyone Says Hi”, is arguably the lightest track on the album. It’s a well put-together song and it has some great moments, especially as it builds-up towards the end.

Next we have “A Better Future”, which opens with a bouncy beat which cleverly contrasts to the deadpan vocals Bowie delivers. It’s another track that’s hard to pin down since it’s constantly evolving and doesn’t have a conventional chorus but it’s definitely effective as a transition to the album’s final song, which happens to be the title track. David Bowie has a tendency to end his albums on more of a question mark but “Heathen (The Rays)” is actually more accessible, with its 50’s-style beat and upbeat vocals.

What to make of Heathen, then?

It’s easy to see why the album did as well as it did: there are some beautiful tracks on here and some kickass covers, Bowie himself is as good as ever and his band is extremely talented and versatile. Having said that, Heathen is a uniformly odd little creation. While it has its fun moments, it’s mostly quite moody and distracted, always going places you wouldn’t expect it to, as if it were constantly challenging you or Bowie himself was conveying his thought process when writing those tracks as they are happening, somehow. All in all, this is probably not everyone’s favourite album of his but it’s still a must since its greatest tracks are not only great, they’re damn great.

That’s 3 Ziggies out of 5 for Heathen, an album Bowie fans will no doubt have a great time discovering or re-discovering.

Ziggy MAskZiggy MAskZiggy MAsk

DomingoArt – New Artist Spotlight

DomingoArt

Borea ‘Domingo’ Domenico is a very talented artist from Italy whose cool drawings and paintings can be found under the banner of DomingoArt all over the best parts of the Internet.

The subject matter he takes on is always rock & roll from music icons to movie characters and memes. Sometimes he’s going with a realistic depiction, other times he’s primarily capturing the energy or the spirit of a particular individual and their work.

Here are two beautiful David Bowie pieces which pinpoint different personas of the music god who sadly left us very recently:

Bowie Bowie2You can tell that DomingoArt has an affinity towards his subjects and enjoys art full stop. He’s very prolific, delivering one stylish, funky piece after another and, if you like rock music, it’s impossible to not find something you like.

On the artist’s DomingoArtStore, you can find all sorts of goodies, not just paintings and drawings but T-shirts as well. Custom orders are totally doable and the store is very accommodating.

DomingoTShirt

That’s just an example of what you can expect when you’re checking out the store, looking for badass Joe Strummer T-shirts.

DomingoArt is also present on Twitter @Domingo_Art, on Instagram @domingoart_official, Facebook and Tumblr where you can see his progress when he’s taking on a new piece as he posts updates regularly.

Here’s an in-progress Freddie Mercury drawing:

Freddie

Definitely check out DomingoArt, he’s a fab artist to look out for and a really nice guy. Plus you can commission pencil drawings from him if you want so if you’ve got a gift you’re planning or something obscure you want for yourself, this guy’s got ya covered.

Reality – Album Review

Reality

Released back in 2003, Reality was David Bowie‘s 23rd album and it was greeted with average interest, its release feeling more underground and indie than most of the artist’s other albums.

Had people known this would be Bowie’s last album before a 10 year gap, would they have appreciated it more? Or was this really a mild effort?

Reality certainly doesn’t open half-assed with a very cool opening track, and first single, as “New Killer Star” brings with it a simple half-grungy half-country riff and moody vocals (and backing vocals) to create a fun track which builds expertly and goes creative places. There’s also an underlying sinister feel about this one you might not catch upon a first listen. The second track, “Pablo Picasso” is also the second single to be released from Reality and it’s another great tune though it’s a cover from Jonathan Richman (The Modern Lovers). It’s got a slightly mad, circusey synth hook, great lyrics and a very energetic Bowie going for it.

Though you might remember “Never Get Old” from the amusing Vittel ad David Bowie took part in to promote the album (“New Killer Star” later replaced the song) back in the day, it’s also actually a decent track on its own with a funky hook and a very cool chorus. The next track is altogether very different: somber, desperate, heartbreaking. “The Loneliest Guy” is an overlooked gem from this album which won’t exactly please those looking to party but play that song on a grey day and you’ll simply get it. A beautifully dark ode to melancholy.

Things pick up quickly as “Looking For Water” offers confident vocals, a thumping beat and a fantastic bass line all the way through. It’s an energetic, straight-forward yet irresistible track and one of the most fun on the album. Song number 6 is “She’ll Drive The Big Car”, which opens with a short harmonica solo before leading us to some poetic verses that make you wonder where the song will go from there but, luckily, we are then given a really effective chorus which is moodily underlined by the backing vocals. The song never takes off too much but it’s worth sticking around for that chorus.

My personal favourite track on the album is “Days”, a ballad and probably the softest song on Reality. It’s a heartfelt, beautiful little tune with a pretty melody which only gets prettier as it goes on. As soon as the beat finally kicks in, you know you’re in for something special as Bowie’s lyrics and vocals coupled with everything else about this song makes it one bittersweet treat: all of it just works. “Fall Dogs Bomb The Moon” is next and, while its lyrics make for a solid critique on corporate/military power, the subject matter could have been taken on with more gusto. As it stands, it works thanks to a catchy chorus but lacks a certain energy and anger.

The next track, “Try Some, Buy Some”, was written by George Harrison and was originally sung by Ronnie Spector but it somehow makes a lot of sense as a David Bowie track, the artist making the song his own and clearly loving singing it. It’s got that early 70’s feel but also a welcome modern touch which helps keep it fresh. The title track “Reality” then steps up and brings a faster-pace with it as well as some defiant laughing which punctuates the irony expressed through the lyrics playfully. It’s not the most memorable song on the album but it’s got enough attitude and great vocal work to keep anyone entertained.

“Bring Me The Disco King” is the final song on the album and, against all odds, it’s certainly not a disco song. In fact, this is an old track Bowie reworked several times before finally keeping things raw and going for a dark, jazzy, piano-led vibe. It’s a bittersweet, beautiful tune which grows slowly and, if you go for the Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails) mix, you’ll hear a rockier version which works even better somehow, though in a different way. It doesn’t exactly end the album with a bang, instead quietly turning off the lights and leaving you in a reflective mood.

What to make of Reality, then?

As we all know, bad David Bowie albums are hard to find and this one is no bad album at all. Calling it “mild” is stupidly harsh though one could see how a critic expecting something heavier would be disappointed. Reality goes for gritty yet polished simplicity, David Bowie delivering one great, unpretentious, honest track after the other with the help of a very versatile band which helps make each song as good as it can possibly be. There are stand out tracks but also a couple of more forgettable ones but even those are competently put together and worth a listen.

All in all, maybe not David Bowie’s very best but it’s an album I never tire of listening to and it gets a high 3 Ziggies out of 5 from us.

Ziggy MAskZiggy MAskZiggy MAsk

You’ll probably find yourself revisiting that one every so often.