Monday, September 6, 2010

You've got your cue line and a handful of 'ludes

Opinions vary on the genuineness of David Bowie as a rock'n'roller. For me it is not so much a question of his theatrics. Nor is it a matter of his chameleon like qualities, shifting from the long haired hippy in a man-dress to an alien rocker to the thin white duke, etc. It all comes down to the music. There are big swaths of his career that lay outside my area of interest, but from 1970 to 1980 he turned out a string of songs - both for himself and for others - that I believe are essential listening.

In 1974 he released Rebel Rebel as a single from the upcoming Diamond Dogs LP. In the spirt of the Kink's Lola, it is a real gender bender - "You've got your mother in a whirl, cause she's not sure if you are a boy or a girl". In the USA the 45rpm release was a completely different production than on the album and on the UK single. The tempo is a bit faster, there are wonderful phased vocal harmonies, the run time is 1:20 shorter, and the mix is absolutely on fire. The US single version is very hard to find. My brother bought the single back in the day, and I finally found it on the Sounds & Vision box set. Some obliging soul has put it up on YouTube, so I suggest you give it a listen. It really rocks my sock off.

And a favorite memory from the olden days - I saw a punk band from Pine Bluff, Arkansas perform this song at the Blue Grotto club on S. Main in uptown Tulsa in 1980. Priceless!


5 comments:

Holly A Hughes said...

When I went to live in England for two years, I couldn't take all my LP collection, so I judiciously bought just a few cassette tapes and a small cassette player. One of those cassettes was a David Bowie "greatest hits" job that had everything up through "Young Americans," I believe. That was one great album, tune after tune. With that tape as evidence, it never occurred to me to doubt Bowie's R&R creds.

tbrough said...

You can find this on the deluxe re-issue of Diamond Dogs. I remember buying the album and being really annoyed that the song I heard on the radio was different from the one on the LP!

Mister Pleasant said...

Glad to know that this is now available on the LP re-issue. It is hands down superior to the LP version.

As for Bowie's R&R creds - I never really understood the argument against him. Seems to be a grudge unrelated to the music itself.

Alex said...

Not sure I'd ever heard this version before -- very cool (and a lot more interesting than the "normal" version)!

I think the R&R cred argument has to do with his style-hopping in the 70s and 80s, which frustrated critics and fans who just wanted Ziggy Stardust over and over again.

Jeff said...

Sure, I remember this. Haven't heard it in a long time, though. Thanks for putting it up.