The title track to Prince‘s 1981 album, “Controversy” was the artist hitting back at various speculations surrounding him at the time. The track talks about race, sexuality, religion and even includes an entire prayer in the middle of it which, ironically and amusingly, caused some controversy. And although the lyrics and the themes are worthy of note here, most importantly it’s just a really good song with a cool, funky beat and one of the catchiest hooks on the album.
Our Song Of The Day for today is “Funk Fujiyama”, a funky Japanese tune released in 1989 by Kome Kome Club, one of the only bands in Japan who tackled soul and funk with great success back in the day. The song is quite simply tons of fun and it’s impossible not to love it right away with its bouncy rhythm and those energetic vocals plus the band itself is a riot when playing live. Gamers might remember the track from Youtuber JewWario‘s “You Can Play This” reviews.
One of the very best tracks to come out of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club‘s 2010 album Beat The Devil’s Tattoo was “Long Way Down”, a slower track with a bittersweet vibe which builds beautifully. It’s dark and potentially a little depressing but there’s also a dash of hope in there which makes the song upbeat enough that, in the end, it comes off as surprisingly inspiring. Brilliant track.
Formed in 1988, Tin Machine was a rock band fronted by David Bowie with Reeves Gabrels on guitar, Tony Sales on bass and Hunt Sales on drums. The project was a way for Bowie to get back to basics with a more raw sound and put his jamming sessions with Gabrels to good use.
The band released their debut, self-titled album in ’89 along with four singles. They would make one other album after that before Bowie returned to his solo work.
How did this debut fare?
The opening track, “Heaven’s In Here”, boasts a very bluesy rhythm and riff throughout and it builds to some excellent guitar solos. It’s refreshing to hear Bowie giving so much freedom to a band and serving as simply the frontman, for once. Hard not to move your feet to this one. The title song “Tin Machine” is a faster-paced punk track that’s a hell of a lot of fun. It was the third single to be released from the album.
“Prisoner Of Love” is next and it’s a slightly darker track that’s also slightly more glam and, by extension, more Bowie. It’s a beautiful song with a catchy hook, great lyrics and first class work from the entire band who already prove themselves to be pretty damn awesome. “Crack City”, like “Heaven’s In Here”, really feels like a 70’s song. It’s very much a track built for live performances with its loud chorus and its buckets of swagger and energy. Expect more fab solos from Gabrels and a bit of a soul vibe throughout as well.
“I Can’t Read” follows and this one feels much more playful yet experimental, almost improvisational even. The screeching guitars are all over the place as the rest of the band figures out the track little by little. It’s not the catchiest of the lot but it still carries that demo-esque raw energy the project promised plus Bowie seems to play a kind of desperate character here, which is entertaining.
You simply can’t go wrong with “Under The God”: it’s the first single to be released from the album and it’s a cracker. Written by Bowie, this is a rocky, punky track worthy of Iggy & The Stooges. With its best-screamed chorus and its bluesy hook, it’s easily one of the best tracks from the band, and that’s saying a lot. Next is “Amazing”, a more chilled-out song with a timeless quality to it. It taps into a vintage rock sensibility which makes it feel like a cover of an old, classic track despite being original. Pretty amazing, indeed.
Speaking of covers, next we have “Working Class Hero”, a cover of one of John Lennon‘s most well-known tracks and one of Bowie’s favourites from the artist. The band does a good job at doing something different with it, not simply imitating the original. This version’s much more dancy and upbeat. While it’s basically impossible to outdo Lennon’s own, this is given the Tin Machine treatment and it works well both as a cover of a classic and as a song from Bowie’s band.
“Bus Stop” opens with a punk riff and, in fact, it feels like a song you could have seen the likes of The Clash come up with. A Joe Strummer cover of this one would have been cool to hear. Gotta love how short and sweet this song is, makes it just perfect. A country version of the track also exists but it doesn’t beat the one described above. Up next is “Pretty Thing” and it’s an erratically-rhythmed rock song with loads of energy and Bowie breaking up the constant beat with his vocals much like John Lennon does in “Cold Turkey”. It’s yet another terrific, fast-paced song which must have kicked ass live.
“Video Crime” is a slower, bluesier track with hip-hop-style vocals and, while it’s a good song with some superb guitar work, you could see a punk version of this one giving it a welcome extra layer of attitude, though you might then miss out on some of Gabrels’ best solos from this album. “Run” has more of a Stranglers vibe to it with the darker toned riffs and moodier vocals. Armed with a catchy chorus, genial solos, some clever breaks and fantastic vocal work from Bowie, this is easily one of Tin Machine’s finest.
“Sacrifice Yourself” is another live-friendly anthem with a faster rhythm and an ingenious mix of hard rock, soul and blues. It’s a short one but it makes for two extremely entertaining minutes. Final track “Baby Can Dance” feels very much like a Bowie effort and, indeed, he wrote this one which bears his trademark unexpected key changes and experimental vocal work. It’s a good choice to end the album on as it leaves us on a high note with its memorable chorus and epic scale. It’s the kind of big finish Bowie usually avoids but he has a ball with it here.
What can I say about Tin Machine’s debut album except…
If Bowie’s core plan for this band project was to get back to basics and deliver an incredibly fun rock album which would showcase his collaborators’ talents then his plan certainly worked out. But Tin Machine feels more than just an enjoyable side project, it’s an experiment that, as a whole, doesn’t feel so much experimental as it does fundamental. It’s a homage to different styles of rock n’ roll from a group of guys who can deliver original work which still feels timeless and classic to this day.
Tin Machine gets a very high 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us and we recommend it as a must for any Bowie or rock fan.
The first single to be released from David Bowie-led rock band Tin Machine‘s self-titled debut album, “Under The God” was a fast-paced bluesy/punky track with loads of attitude both in the lyrics and the music. It’s one of the best songs on the album and its video was directed by Julien Temple. Quite simply a kickass tune.
Song titles don’t come much better than Rocket From The Crypt‘s “Dick On A Dog”, from their 1998 album RFTC. Though the latter was not their most popular album and, in fact, it led to the band putting out less and less records, it had some good songs in it including this track which may sound silly but is also a genuinely good rock tune with plenty of attitude. It’s playful enough to be a lot of fun and catchy enough to make you wanna sing the words “it’s like a dick on a dog!” as loud as you possibly can.
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.
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:
You 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.
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:
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.
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.
You’ll probably find yourself revisiting that one every so often.
From David Bowie‘s unexpected 2013 album The Next Day, the track “(You Will) Set The World On Fire” was one of the most kickass songs on there with its really fun White Stripes-esque riff and Bowie bringing tons of energy, giving the track a welcome 70’s feel. An underrated, overlooked gem from the immortal rock icon.
Review of the full album coming soon.