Written by Iggy Pop and Ivan Kral and produced by Tommy Boyce, “Bang Bang” was in heavy rotation in dance clubs when it was released in 1981 but failed to cross-over to mainstream success at a time when Pop was under a lot of record company pressure to create some hits.
David Bowie later covered the tune on his less-than-stellar 1987 release Never Let Me Down, an album Bowie claimed “had good songs that I mistreated.”
Did Bowie mistreat “Bang Bang”? Or did he blow Iggy out of the water? Or neither?
Hard to believe but it’s forty years since Roxy Music released their debut single “Virginia Plain” and made an unforgettable appearance on Top of the Pops. It was a moment that influenced a generation, the same way David Bowie had earlier the same year, when he seductively draped his arm over Mick Ronson’s shoulder as they sang “Starman” together. It was a moment of initiation, when millions of British youth had shared a seminal cultural experience by watching television.
Of all the programs on air in 1972, by far the most influential was Top of the Pops., and Roxy Music’s arrival on the show was like time travelers bringing us the future sound of music.
Listening to “Virginia Plain” today, it hard to believe that it wasn’t record last week and has just been released.
This documentary on Roxy Music has all the band members (Ferry, Manzanera, MacKay, Eno, etc) and a who’s who of musicians (Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Jones, and Roxy biographer, Michael Bracewell), who explain the band’s importance and cultural relevance. Roxy Music have just released The Complete Studio Recordings 1972-1982 available here.
One of the best Bowie bootleg videos that’s been floating around for at least 25 years is the professionally shot recording of six numbers from his 1978 tour. I’ve read variously that this came from one of the shows recorded for the Stage album, but I’ve also seen claims that it was shot either in Dallas or in Norway. Tony Visconti, who produced Stage, mentions nothing in his liner notes for the 2005 reissue of the album about the shows he recorded also being videotaped. I’m pretty sure that this was taped at The Dallas Convention Center performance of April 10th, 1978
Wherever it was shot, and no matter the short running time, this is one of the finest live Bowie documents we’ve got and it hails from one of his most creative and fertile periods as a mature artist.
It’s incredible to me that neither this nor the “1980 Floor Show” (Bowie’s Midnight Special special from 1973) have been made available for the home market. There were also German and Japanese television broadcasts of the 1978 tour. Surely Bowie fans would rather have one of these programs on DVD than another bloody Ziggy anniversary release! Enough’s enough, already, EMI…
Well, until that day, here’s a great quaklity YouTube upload.
SET LIST: “What in The World,” “Blackout,” “Sense of Doubt,” “Speed of Life,” “Hang On to Yourself,” and “Ziggy Stardust.”
(Note, forget what the uploader says about this being “part one”—this is the whole thing. Parts 2-4 are from the NHK Hall show in Toyko later that year)
14 years before he stopped drinking, David Bowie tried his hand at being a mixologist in this photo from 1966.
Did you know there’s a Diamond Dog cocktail? Well, there is. Combine equal parts of sweet Campari, vermouth, Roses lime juice and fresh squeezed orange juice. Serve on the rocks. It was created at the George V Hotel in Paris, France.
Here’s the recipe for the Ziggy Stardust:
4 parts vodka. 1 part violette liqueur. Dash of orange bitter. 1/2 part Goldschläger. Ground cinnamon. Stir first two ingredients with bitters over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Light a small glass of Goldshläger and pour over the drink. Dust the flame with cinnamon and serve.
It’s been, what, two-three days since our last Bowie-related post? Well fear not, here’s another…
The gorgeous Ava Cherry was David Bowie’s mistress and lover during the mid-70s. She was one of his back-up singers, the Astronettes, along with the late Luther Vandross. In the clip below, you can see her steal the show when Bowie was performing “Footstompin’” (which later got reworked into “Fame” with John Lennon) on The Dick Cavett Show in 1974. (Is it possible to be any hotter than this woman???) This is pretty much the moment where the Diamond Dogs tour gave way to his Young Americans Philly Soul obsession
In late 1973, an Ava Cherry album was planned and partially recorded with Bowie producing, but due to lawsuits with his-then manager Tony DeFries, the album was shelved for 22 years. The tapes that existed had some Bowie originals along with some oddly chosen covers from the Beach Boys, Frank Zappa and Bruce Springsteen. What appears to be a semi-official release came out in 1996 as People From Bad Homes. The material was released again in 2009 as The Astronettes Sessions.
In truth, it’s not that great. I wish I could tell you it was some undiscovered gem of what Bowie called his “plastic soul” phase but it’s, at best, a curiosity for intense Bowie freaks. Her voice, sadly, is no match for her looks and fashion sense. The most memorable track is probably “I Am A Laser” which was later re-worked into “Scream Like A Baby” on Bowie’s Scary Monsters album in 1980. In this rehearsal recording, you can hear Bowie in the background leading the band and calling chord changes.
Note the rap and the line about her “golden showers.” (I wonder if “Golden Years” has a meaning that has hitherto escaped us?)
Has Banksy struck again, in honor of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations?
Sure looks like he might have been the author of this piece depicting Her Majesty as Aladdin Sane—and the painting appeared on Upper Maudlin Street, in Banksy’s hometown of Bristol—but it might actually be by an artist named Incwell.
No one seems to know just yet. Doesn’t matter, it’s amusing whoever painted it.