#196 David Bowie – Pin Ups

I started listening to this on my iPhone with headphones on the tube, which without doubt is the worst place ever to attempt to listen to music. Particularly at rush hour on the Central line. So I’m hoping I can be forgiven for not even recognising this as Bowie singing for the first 30 seconds.

Pinups is an interesting proposition; for me it comes across as Bowie continuing to play dress up, to perform in character, halfway between Aladdin Sane and Halloween Jack from Diamond Dogs (makeup from the former and hair from the latter). But instead of just one, here he gets to play them all: the rock n’ roller, the guitar strumming troubadour, the soul man, the psychedelic pixie, and the proto-mod.

Bowie selects his songs from his personal favourites from the mid-to-late-60s; some well-known (Kinks, Floyd and Who) and some less so (Rosalyn and Sorrow – the only single released from this album). They are all from a time when it was legally compulsory in Britain for all bands to have a ‘the’ in their name. (Them got away without it because they’re from Northern Ireland and The Them would just sound silly, and Pink Floyd used to be called The Tea Set, and it’s a physical impossibility to be any more English than that.)

Bowie continued to cover songs throughout his career, so this album is not as much of an anomaly or curiosity as it may seem, but it’s easier to write this in retrospect. At the time, having just killed off Ziggy his fans must have wondered what the hunky-dory he was playing at. Now of course, it’s obvious: he was playing with us, his audience, and seeing how far he could go. All the way to the stars and back David, all the way.

Best Bits: The full-on psychedelic rock-out of See Emily Play
Genre: Glam Rock Covers
Like This, Try This: Bowie’s cover of The Modern Lovers track Pablo Picasso on Reality


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