We now move to the third and final of my Bowie playlist CDs. I have not gone any further because I could just about listen to Bowie’s 80s output but found what he produced from Tin Machine onwards was not to my tastes. Anyway, I digress. Bowie left the hedonistic lifestyle that head fuelled his work in Los Angeles and moved to Europe to clean up; but had also become interested in German bands such Neu and Kraftwerk. He would also find inspiration from the album Epsilon in Malaysian Pale, a solo record from Tangerine Dream guitarist/keyboardist Edgar Frosse. Brian Eno became a collaborator and Bowie moved away from the Blue Eyed Soul of his L.A. work to one of electronica and ambient. What is different from Bowie’s previous work is the number of instrumentals on what became known as the Berlin trilogy of albums. These albums have a very distinct sound, but the songs on Bowie’s first album of the 80s (Scary Monsters and Super Creeps) have a similar sound, so those from this album that were used have been placed on disc one.
Disc two takes us into Bowie’s commercial 80s period. Let’s Dance was released in 1983, three years after the release of Scary Monsters which was at that point, the longest gap between new Bowie LP releases. The album’s title track would be a number one hit single in UK, US and numerous other territories. The album also sold over 10 millions copies and at the time was Bowie’s most successful album. However, this could be argued to be the first time that Bowie tried to second guess his audience, especially as he had gained so many new ones. The two albums that came after Let’s Dance, Tonight and Never Let Me Down were all commercial successes. However, they weren’t particularly well received by fans and critics, and Bowie distanced himself from them as early as 1990. It is easy to see why. They are well produced and very commercial, but the contrast with the experimental music featured on disc one of this collection is the most striking of all of the Bowie collections. Whilst disc one is full of audio landscapes, disc two became a generic mix of over production and session men. It’s therefore no great surprise that Bowie called this his Phil Collins years. One surprise on the second disc must be the inclusion of the song, Too Dizzy. Written as a homage to the 50s, Bowie came to dislike the song so much that it was deleted from all reissues of the record. Nevertheless, it finds a place here.
CD 1 is Bowie at his most experimental, and CD 2 at his most commercial. It goes to show more than any other of the Bowie collections I have posted the ever evolving nature of his music and craft.
The cover image was taken during the Berlin years and perfectly captures the nature of the music recorded during those years.
Speed Of Life
Sound & Vision
Be My Wife
Boys Keep Swinging
Ashes To Ashes
The Secret Life Of Arabia
Look Back In Anger
Always Crashing The Same Car
I Keep Forgetting
Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
Time Will Crawl
This Is Not America
Loving The Alien
As The World Falls Down
The playlist for disc one is available on Spotify, but disc two could not be re-created because one or more songs were not available on that platform.
Upon completing The Doll’s House fantasy LP, I began to think about what other fantasy album projects could I look at? Having a look through The Beatles records in Squire Towers, I came across a now deleted compilation called ‘A Collection of Beatles Oldies’. Looking at the track listing, I wondered if this could be improved upon? So with Ian McDonald’s classic book ‘A Revolution in the Head’ in hand, I thought I would have a go.
In late 1966, EMI were worried. The Beatles did not have any new product for them to sell during the Christmas period and the only new piece of merchandise anyone was set to hear was the annual fan club flexidisc. By this time the band had decided to retire from touring, so their fans in the UK also wouldn’t have any concerts from them to look forward to. Fans even protested outside the house of manager Brian Epstein when that news was released. There were rumours in the press that the band was on the verge of splitting up because the individual members had been working on a lot of projects without the involvement of the other three. This led EMI to decide to put together a compilation LP of old songs as a means of keeping the Beatles brand going.
The album EMI came up can be considered the first Beatles compilation LP. Out of the 16 songs on the album, 13 had been released as singles in the UK. Of the other three, Michelle and Yesterday had been released as singles in other territories and the final song, Bad Boy, had initially only been released before in the US market. EMI saw this as a way of appealing to UK record buyers as they would be getting a song they probably otherwise didn’t have. In another effort to tempt the record buying public, some of the songs were remixed in stereo. Up until the late 60 The Beatles singles released in the UK were available only in mono. The compilation did receive some good reviews, in part because it contained 16 songs instead of UK industry standard of the time of 14. It was also well received as an import in the US. It was not without its critics, as some of the songs had already been used on compilation EPs released in the preceding years, and there was a shortage of hard to find or unreleased songs. It was clear to everyone what this record was; a quick cash in.
However, what-if EMI had taken some time and released a compilation that was full of harder to find songs and more archive material? What could have been used? Well, all of the songs must have been recorded before December 1966, when the LP was released. The Beatles may not have been in favour of allowing unreleased songs out until the Anthology series of the 1990s, but this is a what-if scenario record so everything is fair game.
Love Me Do (Original Single Release – Mono) – The second out of three versions The Beatles recorded for EMI. This version has Ringo Starr on drums and it was this one that was released as the Beatles first single. The version found on the Please Please Me album was the third version recorded with session drummer Andy White playing drums. The difference between these two versions was that on the third version, Ringo can be heard playing the tambourine. There is no tambourine on the second version.
How Do You Do It? (Mono) – This was almost the band’s first A-Side. Producer George Martin felt it would be a hit single, but The Beatles were not keen on releasing it as they felt the song didn’t fit their sound. Later it was a number one hit single for Gerry & The Pacemakers (who were also produced by George Martin). The Beatles version would not see the light of day until the Anthology 1 album in 1995.
Thank You Girl (Mono) – Originally released as the B-Side to From Me To You.
One After 909 (Mono) – Recorded in early 1963 this is one of the earlier writing efforts of the Lennon and McCartney partnership. The song would not be released at the time but would be re-recorded six years later and included on the Let It Be album. The original version would later be released on the Anthology 1 album.
I’ll Get You (Mono) – Originally released as the B-Side to She Loves You.
This Boy (Mono) – Originally released as the B-Side to All My Loving.
And I Love Her (Stereo) – Originally released on the German version of the Something New album, this includes a few more bars of guitar playing in the closing riff. It is unknown why this version was created but the Beatles did not play this extended passage when recording the song, so whoever created this created a rarity. This was later re-released on the US version of the Rarities album in 1980.
Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand (Mono) – A German language version of I Want to Hold Your Hand. It was not unusual for bands to record songs in languages other than English to appeal to foreign markets. This was The Beatles only attempt at doing this, but was not only released in Germany. The single was given a release in Australia when the band toured there in 1964, and appeared on the US version of the Something New album. The title is not an exact translation as in English it is ‘Come, Give me Your Hand’.
Sie Liebt Dich (Mono) – Originally released as the B-side of the Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand single
Leave My Kitten Alone (Mono) – Recorded during the sessions for the Beatles for Sale album. Why this was not put on the record instead of Mr Moonlight is one of those questions we will no doubt never know the answer to. It is a considerably better recording. It was considered for a single release in the mid 80s when the Sessions album was being put together. The Sessions project was an attempt to release some previously unreleased Beatles material but was blocked by the band at the time. It was eventually released on the Anthology 1 album.
She’s A Woman (Mono) – Originally released as the B-Side to I Feel Fine.
Yes It Is (Mono) – Originally released as the B-Side to Ticket To Ride
That Means A Lot (Mono) – Recorded for possible inclusion on the Help album. The Beatles were not satisfied with their version so the song was given to P.J. Proby to record, for whom it would reach the top 30 in the UK singles chart. The Beatles version would later be released on the Anthology 2 album.
Bad Boy (Mono) – Written by Larry Williams, this was one of a number of his songs that the band recorded. It was only intended for the US market and was released on the Beatles VI album. As noted above, this was included on the official version of A Collection of Beatles Oldies as a way of appealing to Beatles completist.
I’m Down (Mono) – Originally released as the B-Side to the Help single.
Love Me Do (Single Version)
How Do You Do It?
Thank You Girl
One After 909
I’ll Get You
And I Love Her (German Stereo Mix US Rarities LP)
Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
Sie Liebt Dich
Leave My Kitten Alone
She’s A Woman
Yes It Is
That Means A Lot
Amongst the songs that were up for the selection on the compilation was If You’ve Got Trouble, which was up for consideration as Ringo’s song on the Help album. However, the band were not happy with it and it is easy to see why. It is not a very good song and the band seemed to know it. In time it was included on Anthology 2. Also missing is Rain, which was the B-Side of Paperback Writer. Released in May of 1966, this omitted as it would have made the album sides a bit lopsided. As it is, both sides clock in just over 18 minutes. I would have also though that this would have been considered too new to be on a collection of oldies. However, Paperback Writer was included on the released version of this album. The LP uses the cover from the original release in 1966.
Spotify did not have the German Stereo single version so to make up the numbers, the stereo mix from A Hard Days Night was used in its place.
With the release of 1972’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album, Bowie had achieved the success he had been working towards for the previous decade. 1972 was a busy year for Bowie as he helped to produce Lou Reed’s Transformer album, released John, I’m Only Dancing as a stand-alone single, and donated the song All The Young Dudes to Mott the Hoople. The Ziggy Stardust tour also traversed the world so with that workload, it is not a surprise that the Aladdin Sane album has been notorious down the years for a serious lack of bonus tracks. It would seem that Bowie just didn’t have the time to record anything other than what was necessary, or those songs were all he had. The inclusion of a Rolling Stones cover hints at the direction Bowie would take for his next record. Aladdin Sane is a continuation from the Ziggy Stardust album, as it still has a number of glam elements but combines this with a tougher rock sound. There were even some influences from jazz and cabaret. The majority of the Aladdin Sane tracks are used in the second half of the CD.
Pinups was to follow and only two songs were used from it, the single Sorrow and it’s B-Side Port of Amsterdam. I must admit to finding this album a bit difficult to listen to because in my opinion his covers are not as good as the originals that inspired Bowie. The first half of CD one is taken up by recordings from Diamond Dogs, Bowie’s attempt to adapt the book 1984 before the family of George Orwell refused to sell him the rights. Included is the song Dodo from the Diamond Dogs sessions which was not on the parent album but was performed live in Bowies 1973 variety programme, The 1980 Floor Show. The studio version would not surface until 1990. The demo version of Candidate was used which is not only different musically from the version originally released but also contains different lyrics. The one anomaly (if that is the right word) is a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City, which is believed to have been an outtake from the later Station to Station album. There is some conjecture though that it was recorded for the Diamond Dogs album as Bowie had recorded another Springsteen song in Growin’ Up (also included here) in the same period. It sounds like it should go in Bowie’s glam period so that is where it has been placed.
CD two moves into Bowie’s mid 70s period when he embraced Soul music. Young Americans fully embraced it whilst its follow up did contain some soul elements but also showed hints of the direction he would go in after that. Young Americans was the first time since he had become a star that Bowie had changed musical style so severely. This meant that Bowie did lose a portion of his UK fan base but with the single Fame reaching number one on the US singles charts, he was cementing his status on the other side of the pond. It was also during this period that Bowie developed a serious cocaine habit, the results of which could be seen in the way he looked. This is not called his Thin White Duke period for nothing. Bowie claims that he knew he was in Los Angeles whilst recording this because he read he was. Guitar players Earl Slick and Carlos Alomar have also testified to the quantity of drugs taken during this period. There aren’t too many outtakes from this period so the run time on disc two is a little short. The cover is an outtake form the Aladdin Sane photo shoot with a Diamond Dogs era Bowie logo added to it.
Panic In Detroit
We Are The Dead
Sweet Thing (Reprise)
The Jean Genie
Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family
Port Of Amsterdam
Watch That Man
It’s Hard Toe Be A Saint In The City
Rock ‘n Roll With Me
Station To Station
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Can You Hear Me?
Who Can I Be Now?
Wild Is The Wind
It’s Gonna Be Me
Neither of these playlists could be reproduced on Spotify, as they contain songs not available on the platform at this time.