The music on ‘Diamond Dogs’ sees David Bowie dragging out the final remains of the slowly dying Glam movement, before setting off on yet another new venture with, of course a new persona in tow.
Written by: Explorer
ARTIST: David Bowie
ALBUM: Diamond Dogs
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: David Bowie – lead and background vocals, guitars, saxophones, moog synthesizer, mellotron * Mike Garson – keyboards * Herbie Flowers – bass * Tony Newman, Aynsley Dunbar – drums * Alan Parker – guitar on 1984
TRACK LISTING: 01 Future Legend * 02 Diamond Dogs * 03 Sweet Thing * 04 Candidate * 05 Sweet Thing (Reprise) * 06 Rebel Rebel * 07 Rock N Roll With Me * 08 We Are The Dead * 09 1984 * 10 Big Brother * 11 Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family
30th ANNIVERSARY BONUS TRACKS: 01 1884-Dodo * 02 Rebel Rebel (US Single Version) * 03 Dodo * 04 Growin’ Up * 05 Alternative Candidate (Demo for Proposed 1984 Musical) * 06 Diamond Dogs (K-Tel Best of Edit) * 07 Candidate (Intimacy Mix) * 08 Rebel Rebel (2003)
1973 saw David Bowie become arguably the biggest rock star on the planet with the runaway success of his Ziggy Stardust persona and the albums ‘Aladdin Sane’ and ‘Pin Ups’. By the turn of the year Bowie had ditched the Spiders From Mars, and most notably sideman Mick Ronson in favour of session musicians, and started work on a musical based on George Orwell’s ‘1984’ novel, but this was ditched due to opposition from Orwell’s estate.
Bowie, still on an artistic role quickly regrouped and taking some of the songs from the aborted 1984 project began work on ‘Diamond Dogs’ which, like 1984 turned out to a rather bleak Dystopian look at the future.
The music on ‘Diamond Dogs’ sees Bowie dragging out the final remains of the slowly dying Glam movement, before setting off on yet another new venture with, of course a new persona in tow.
‘Future Legend’ is a short scene setter with Bowie narrating a short passage over the strains of Rodgers and Hart. ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’, before flying into the brash title track, complete with scratchy Rolling Stones like guitar and Bowie howling like a dog just to drive home the point.
Up next is the triptych that is ‘Sweet Thing-Candidate-Sweet Thing (Reprise)’, which in the years that followed has become a Bowie connoisseur’s favourite. It’s a dark, brooding piece, with a menacing undertone to it all.
‘Rebel Rebel’ is up next and is a track that should be instantly recognizable to any discerning rock music fan with, it’s once more scratchy Stones riff, played by Bowie himself, and has since rightfully become a classic song, due in no small way to its sheer simplicity.
‘Rock N Roll With Me’ is a glorious rock ballad with a vocal performance from Bowie that displays passion yet with an air of desperation to it, and ‘We Are The Dead’ again demonstrates how Bowie can take a deceptively simple melody and turn it into something ‘other worldly’.
‘1984’ and ‘Big Brother’ are, as both titles imply songs written for the aforementioned aborted ‘1984’ project, and both strongly hint at what was to come on later albums, the former full of funky strings and Bowie doing his best soul croon, and the latter being a bridge between the Glam excesses and the soon to be soul boy persona.
The final cut ‘Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family’ is a driving rock song in which Bowie sings, chants, you make your mind up!, before it all ends with a repeated loop of truncated dialogue. Quite a bleak sounding album, which befits the general concept, but nevertheless an album that was embraced by the already enormous fan base eager to find out what was Bowie’s next step.
Another triumph for David Bowie, and more importantly opened the door for him to mainstream America. The subsequent tour was very elaborate and ground breaking in terms of presentation and saw Bowie making the shift towards soul music that eventually saw him release ‘Young Americans’ in early 1975.
Diamond Dogs is another album in the Bowie catalogue that is truly indispensible. There are very few artists before or even since Bowie that have been able to match his inventiveness and showmanship. Bowie was one of a kind, and let’s face it eh, a genius. Now that’s a word that’s bandied about far too easily but in this case its fully justified, we’ll never see the likes of David Bowie ever again.
Rebel Rebel (Top of the Pops) 1974