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Industrial Pop Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain): David Bowie – I’m Afraid Of Americans (Nine Inch Nails V1 Mix)

Day 24. From songs produced by David Bowie (Lou Reed’s Perfect Day & Mott The Hoople’s All The Young Dudes) for the last two days to a David Bowie song produced by another artist. In this case it’s the V1 mix of I’m Afraid Of American’s, produced by Nine Inch Nail’s polymath Trent Reznor. Although not the original version, this mix surpassed the album version in popularity (partly due to the video, one would assume) & is even included on many ‘best of’ albums.

I’m Afraid Of Americans already shared some major characteristics with Nine Inch Nails. Bowie was, after all, heavily influenced by them in this period. Trent Reznor transforms it into a behemoth of punishing Industrial Noise Rock. Check out the video below.

Johnny’s in America, no tax at the wheel
Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah-ah
No-one needs anyone, they don’t even just pretend
Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah
Johnny’s in America

I’m afraid of Americans
I’m afraid of the world
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of Americans
I’m afraid of the world
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of Americans

Johnny’s in America
Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah-ah
Johnny wants a brain, Johnny wants to suck on a coke
Johnny wants a woman, Johnny wants to think of a joke
Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah-ah
Johnny’s in America (ah-ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah-ah)

I’m afraid of Americans
I’m afraid of the world
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of Americans
I’m afraid of the world
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of Americans

Johnny’s in America, Johnny looks up at the stars
Johnny combs his hair and Johnny wants pussy in cars
Johnny’s in America (ah-ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah-ah)
Johnny’s in America (ah-ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah-ah)

I’m afraid of Americans
I’m afraid of the world
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of Americans
I’m afraid of the world
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of Americans

God is an American
God is an American
(Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah-ah)

I’m afraid of Americans
I’m afraid of the world
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of Americans
I’m afraid of the world
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t

Yeah I’m afraid of Americans
I’m afraid of the world
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of Americans

Johnny’s an American
Johnny’s an American
Johnny’s an American
Johnny’s an American
Johnny’s an American

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Rock Rock And Roll Song of the Day

Song Of The Day (The Chain): Mott The Hoople – All The Young Dudes

Day 23. I’m assuming that most people who may be reading this post will be able to pick out the link between Perfect Day & All The Young Dudes from miles away. That’s right. Perfect Day is take from Lou Reed’s excellent album Transformer, which, as I’m sure you’re aware, was produced by none other than David Bowie. All The Yung Dudes by Mott The Hoople is also produced by David Bowie. Unlike Perfect Day, however, Bowie actually wrote All The Young Dudes. Legend has it that Mott The Hoople asked Bowie for Drive-In Saturday, but he liked it too much & decided to give them All The Young Dudes instead. An excellent Bowie version is also available.

All The Young dudes is a fairly typical Glam-era Bowie tune, with a swaggering & androgynous vibe, amazing guitar work (Bowie & the legendary Mick Ronson both play on it) & lyrics about feeling different & taking solace in your generation’s art. NME described it as “one of that rare breed: rock songs which hymn the solidarity of the disaffected without distress or sentimentality”.

Well, Billy rapped all night about his suicide
How he’d kick it in the head when he was twenty-five
Speed jive, don’t want to stay alive
When you’re twenty-five
And Wendy’s stealing clothes from Marks & Sparks
And Freddy’s got spots from ripping off the stars from his face
Funky little boat race
Television man is crazy saying we’re juvenile delinquent wrecks
Oh, man, I need TV when I’ve got T.Rex
Oh brother, you guessed
I’m a dude, dad

All the young dudes (hey dudes!)
Carry the news (where are you?)
Boogaloo dudes (stand up, come on)
Carry the news
All the young dudes (I want to hear you)
Carry the news (I want to see you)
Boogaloo dudes (I want to talk to you, all of you)
Carry the news (now)

Lucy looks sweet ’cause he dresses like a queen
But he can kick like a mule, it’s a real mean team
But we can love
Oh yes, we can love
And my brother’s back at home with his Beatles and his Stones
We never got it off on that revolution stuff
What a drag, too many snags
Now I’ve drunk a lot of wine and I’m feeling fine
Got to race some cat to bed
Oh, is that concrete all around
Or is it in my head?
Yeah
I’m a dude, dad

All the young dudes (hey dudes)
Carry the news (where are you?)
Boogaloo dudes (stand up)
Carry the news
All the young dudes (I want to hear you)
Carry the news (I want to see you)
Boogaloo dudes (I want to relate to you)
Carry the news
All the young dudes (what dudes?)
Carry the news (let’s hear the news, come on)
Boogaloo dudes (I want to kick you)
Carry the news

All the young dudes
(With the glasses)
Carry the news (I want you)
Boogaloo dudes (I want you in the front)
Carry the news (now)
(Now, you’re his friends)
All the young dudes (now you bring him down)
(‘Cause I want him)
Carry the news
Boogaloo dudes (I want him right here)
(Bring him, come on)
Carry the news (bring him)
(Here you go)
All the young dudes
(I’ve wanted to do this for years)
Carry the news
(There you go!)
Boogaloo dudes
(How’d it feel?)
Carry the news

If you’ve not heard it (you should have), here’s the Bowie version too.

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Categories
Rock Synth Pop

David Bowie – Is It Any Wonder?

Second David Bowie post in two days (& third this week). Is It Any Wonder? is a six-track EP consisting of unreleased or rare tracks recorded in & around 1997.

To kick things off, there’s the version of The Man Who Sold The World from the ChangesNowBowie radio show (also released as a new album this year). This is a stripped back, downtempo, acoustic version of the song, reminiscent of the much lauded Nirvana cover. A conscious decision, I’m sure, & a moving tribute to the late Kurt Cobain.

The second track is a moving, moribund treatment of the Tin Machine song, I Can’t Read. This version was recorded during the mixing of Bowie’s ’97 album, Earthling (which I wrote about yesterday) & is said to have been Bowies preferred version of the song. Check out the video (above) for some great, artistic visuals. I particularly like the faces projected onto the white masks.

Stay 97 is an update of the track from 1976 album Station To Station. The idea was to bring older material in line, sonically, with the newer stuff from Earthling. This is achieved with motorik rhythms & crunchy, digitized guitar riffs.

Baby Universal 97 is a rerecording of another Tin Machine track. Originally intended as the penultimate track on Earthling, Bowie was aid to have being extremely fond of the track & didn’t think enough people had heard it before. This version is built around hard drum machine beats, thrashing guitars & a melodic soundscape of synth & vocals. I can easily imagine it sitting comfortably on Earthling.

Nuts is minimal, Junglist, Drum & Bass. Recorded in the Earthling sessions, Nuts was also originally slated for inclusion but was eventually left off the album. It’s incredibly atmospheric. A friend of mine says it reminds him of a lot of Eric Serras film soundtrack work, paticularly The Fifth Element & Goldeneye. I agree, but it also reminds me of the music for the excellent original PlayStation game, G-Police or Wipeout.

The final track is another version of The Man Who Sold The World. The ‘Eno’ Live Mix, 2020 remaster. This Brian Eno produced version transforms the song into a downtempo, Dub-influenced Trip Hop tune. This version was recorded in 1995 & released as a single alongside Strangers When We Meet. Heavy dubby basslines, delayed percussion & echoey sonar blips combine to create a truly contemporary (for 1995) sonic experience.

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Categories
Music Overlooked Classics Rock Synth Pop

Overlooked Classics: David Bowie – Earthling

David Bowie’s 1997 album Earthling was the first new Bowie record I was aware of as a teenager. I already knew songs like Space Oddity & Ashes To Ashes, & even liked what I knew, but Earthling was essentially my generation’s Bowie album.

Bowie, finger ever on the pulse of the zeitgeist, was inspired by emergent genres like Drum & Bass, IDM & Breakbeat. Earthling was written & produced with these influences at the fore. Everything could have gone so horribly wrong. Many other classic artists who embrace genres of younger generations fail miserably (in my opinion), take Neil Youngs synthetic experiments in the ’80’s for example.

Luckily, Bowie was able to understand & appreciate what it was about these genres that made them special & unique. Instead of bending the technology & techniques used to create Drum & Bass to match his songwriting, he bent his songwriting to match the technology.

Album opener & lead single, Little Wonder, is a great example of this. A thumping, Junglist, Drum & Bass beat underpins trademark. His incredible vocal melodies floating above the hard, Junglist beats. In line with a key influence at for Bowie at the time, The Prodigy, Little Wonder’s skittering breakbeat manglement gives way to headbanging, anthemic hard rock sections.

Elsewhere, other influences come to the fore. Looking For Satellites is heavy downtempo breakbeats, somewhere between Hip Hop & Trip Hop (Meat Beat Manifesto?), but with rhythmic vocal melodies that wouldn’t be out of place on a Talking Heads record.

Prodigy vibes abound on Battle For Britain (The Letter). Crunchy, digitally harsh guitar chords juxtaposed against similar Junglist rhythms to Little Wonder. Bowies trademark melodic melancholia & a space rock glueing the whole thing together. Free jazz piano segments notwithstanding.

Seven Years In Tibet brings us more downtempo drum machine shenanigans, with heavy, metallic guitar riffing. This is more in Nine Inch Nails’ sonic territory than Prodigy though.

Dead Man Walking sees modem noise distorted guitars over thumping four-to-the-floor beats. Techno synth arpeggios & harmonic vocal loops give this a distinctly ’90’s vibe to it. Perhaps reminds me a little of Björk’s Hyper-Ballad. I could easily imagine a successful mix of the two songs in the hands of a competent DJ.

Telling Lies sees the return of the Drum & Bass rhythms. Lowkey baritone Bowie vocals & incoherent moaning help to build an oppressive sonic atmosphere.

The Last Thing You Should Do is upbeat, cut-&-Paste breakbeat with melancholic, subdued verses & explosive, distorted choruses. Like The Chemical Brothers with a more experimental sensibility. Grunge dynamics feel strangely at home here.

I’m Afraid Of Americans is more downtempo, industrial influenced darkness. Wears it’s Nine Inch Nails influence proudly on its sleeve. Doubly so on the various Nine Inch Nails Remixes which were also made, Trent Reznor’s unique production style bringing out Bowie’s darkest artistic impulses. You’ve got to hand it to Reznor. Not only did he do a great job of this, but he did it from the position of being completely starstruck & in awe of Bowie.

Finale, Law (Earthlings On Fire) is another dive into the sonic textures of Techno. Four-to-the-floor drums, bubbling, sidechained bass lines & stabs of distorted noise. Vocals mimic the rhythms brilliantly, acting as just another instrument in the soundscape.

I forgot how much I loved this album & I’m glad I was reminded of it by a post on Facebook earlier this week. One of Bowies darkest, & most sonically adventurous, albums, Earthling still sounds incredibly contemporary today, 23 years after its release.

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Categories
Journalism Politics

David Bowie grills interviewer on why MTV doesn’t play black artists (1983)

I apologise for publishing three posts in such a short space of time, but I absolutely had to share this wonderful video.

Watch as David Bowie turns the tables on MTV’s MArk Goodman in 1983. Bowie expertly questions him on why the music video network doesn’t play black artists. Watch as Goodman squirms his way through an explanation which sounds completely ridiculous (even, Im sure, to himself). Makes you realise that Bowie would have made an excellent journalist if he’d chosen to go that way.

Just another reminder that David Bowie was one of the good guys & he thought that Black Lives Matter.

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