Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bowie - Pin-Ups (1973)

At last I've got myself one of the new retro record players. At last I can revisit my record collection, some of which I won't have heard in over 30 years. I can revisit my youth.

I was 18 when this came out but even though I was a huge Bowie fan, I probably didn't get my copy until '74 or '75. It seemed counter-intuitive, an artist as groundbreaking as Bowie doing an album of covers. I was more concerned with the wholly new albums like Diamond Dogs and Station to Station and Young Americans.
It seems odd now, when the likes of Adele can go four years without an album. Back in the 70s Bowie was unbelievably prolific, issuing two or three a year, each with a new persona, each with a new sound.
Yes, Pin-Up was a hurried cash-in on the stupendous fame that had hit him after Aladdin Sane. Yes, there was only one real hit single that I recall (Sorrow) but it also served as a reminder that Bowie wasn't 18, he wasn't an overnight sensation springing up out of nowhere. He had been playing since the mid-sixties. The bands covered here weren't what he'd listened to on the dansette in his suburban bedroom. These were bands he had seen and performed alongside.

Sorrow is the standout track. I still love it. But what I wanted to hear most - what made Pin-Ups the first album I plucked out of my battered record case - was Here Comes The Night (I  might be old but I'm not old enough to remember Them troubling the charts) and See Emily Play, which I do remember, Pink Floyd with Syd, magical. Of the two, Emily works best for me now. Syd was experimental, but Bowie takes the randomness further. Tracks I don't like are I Can't Explain and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere? This is because I never did like The Who, not in 1965, not in 1967. The Kinks I adored - I saw them perform in '73 and the first record I ever bought was their Dedicated Follower of Fashion EP in, I guess, '64 or '65. Where Have All The Good Times Gone disappoints here. Ray Davies frankly did it better. One I had completely forgotten, Shape of Things by The Yardbirds, works really well.

I'm so glad I got my record player and embarked on this tour of my younger days. Yes, you can get the same albums on CD but who wants them digitally remastered? Who thought themselves entitled to fiddle with the work of great artists and, Gawd 'elp us, enhance it? This is what Bowie heard when he listened to the playback in 1973. This is what he produced it to sound like. This is what he wanted, and that's plenty good enough for me.