Top 11 Elton John songs

Today celebrates the 70th birthday of a great musician; Reginald Kenneth Dwight, better known as Elton Hercules John. I ain’t calling Elton great, just because he’s released numerous UK number 1s and/or because he’s hugely popular, but because he’s released some songs which I can call plain awesome! In fact, when I wrote my personal Top 11 singles by David Bowie, I kinda compared him unfavorably to David Bowie and said that Elton was ‘a bit too ballady’. I guess it’s because David’s long been my favourite musician and I was so depressed when he passed on, and Elton, if you did read that blog, I apologise. I didn’t mean no offence. However, I’m glad Elton John didn’t die last year and that he’s at the moment still living. With that said, Elton’s more than just ‘ballady’. This is why I shall cut him some slack, actually since it’s his birthday, lots of slack. Here is my top 11 songs by Elton John. Why top 11? Because I’d like to go, as the guys out of Madness might say, one step beyond!

Number 11;…

Daniel

Album: Don’t Shoot Me (I’m Only The Piano Player)

Year: 1972

Daniel tells the story of a fictional brother of the narrator who is leaving for Spain, his favourite place and for some reason, I  had a feeling the character may have died or something, but then the narrator like sees things that look like Daniel. Apparently Elton got inspiration from an article about a wounded Vietnamese war veteran. He of course wanted to create sympathy to all the veterans of the pointless war, and my god he did a good job with this one.

Daniel is a rather sad song and I’d probably get that feeling if one/some of my relatives went to war and didn’t arrive back for sometime. The feeling is helped by Elton’s smooth flute melody.

Number 10;…

Bennie & The Jets

Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Year: 1973

Not a lot of people know what Bennie & The Jets is about, but what some of us can gather, it’s Elton’s Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. Bennie & The Jets is based on a fictional glam rock band (“She’s got electric boots, a mohair suit, You know I read it in a magazine Ohh…“). It also addresses the greed and glitz of the 70s (“We’ll kill the fatted calf tonight, so stick around, you’re gonna hear electric music, solid walls of sound.”).

And gee, listen to that glamorous keyboard riff. It always gets us into the groove.

Number 9;…

Circle Of Life

Album: The Lion King soundtrack

Year: 1994

And here’s a song written for the hugely popular Disney movie. Circle Of Life was used during one of the most spectacular openings to a movie in Hollywood history! Think about it, fade from black to a shot of a rising sun, while at the same time, we hear the Zulu chant which signals that a lion prince has been born. It catches every animal’s attention in Africa and they go over to attend the presentation of Simba. The tune continues until the animals bow to Simba and we see the opening title. Very well written.

Elton John’s own version of Circle Of Life is also worth a listen. Okay, it doesn’t have the chant, but he did write this song and most of the soundtrack to The Lion King.

Number 8;…

I’m Still Standing

Album: Too Low For Zero

Year: 1983

Here’s a bit of 80s glam rock. I’m Still Standing is one truly entertaining song. But it also feels like it could be used for a political message. I mean, I’m Still Standing. Love it!

Even the music video’s quite stylish. The opening reminds me a bit of the way the James Bond movies commence, considering the circle opening. And extra credit for the split screen.

Number 7;…

Sacrifice

Album: Sleeping With The Past

Year: 1989

Bernie Taupin described Sacrifice as one of the best songs he and Elton worked on. I tend to agree. Sacrifice is a smooth break-up song where the loss of a relationship is no sacrifice. Rather, relationships are lost unexpectedly or when we reckon that a relationship ain’t working.

Number 6;…

Can You Feel The Love Tonight

Album: The Lion King soundtrack

Year: 1994

Another song written for The Lion King. The reason why I place this one above the Circle Of Life is not because it was the one that won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, but it’s the one I sang through most out of every song included on the soundtrack. Again, there are two versions of Can You Feel The Love Tonight. The one sung by the cast and some chorus during the scene where Simba and Nala reconcile and their friends Timon & Pumbaa are emotionally observing their relationship. And talking about emotions, that’s how I feel when I see the two lions rubbing their faces together and Timon and Pumbaa in tears when they finish the song. Controversially, I always got a little more teary-eyed at that scene than the famous death scene.

Number 5;…

Sad Songs (Say So Much)

Album: Breaking Hearts

Year: 1984

Don’t let the title get you down. As so explain the lyrics, Sad Songs (Say So Much) is a sympathetic soft-rock-ish pop song that demonstrates that blues songs are there to help a listener who has recently experienced a break-up, a loss of a partner to death or is feeling depressed in any other way to relax and feel motivated through life. In a way, a bit like Sacrifice.

In other words, Sad Songs is a cheering-up song. In fact, it’s also from Elton’s 18th album, which happens to be titled Breaking Hearts. I’ve known this one since I was a kid and I thank BBC Radio 2 for introducing this one.

I’d also like to mention the music video, which reminds me of Schindler’s List. I say that because remember that girl in the red jacket. Exactly, the red was the only colour that was showing, black & white aside, during most of the film. Sad Songs is too filmed in black and white mostly, apart from a few bright colours. The visuals too contrast with the song’s tone.

Number 4;…

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (with Kiki Dee)

Album: n/a

Year: 1976

And here, we have a duet between Elton and a not-so widely known lady called Kiki Dee. The subject matter of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart maybe cliched considering it’s a basic love song. However, it’s more than just a love song. It’s an energetic song! It starts off that way, hence the heart pounding orchestra. Speaking of heart pounding, get it? The orchestra carries on that way through the song. Apparently, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart was  inspired by the Motown musicians i.e. Marvin Gaye. His and Kim Weston’s song It Takes Two is similar-ish to this one, music-wise.

Don’t Go Breaking my Heart is one of Elton John’s classics which has remained since our earlier lives. Elton & Kiki’s version will remain the ultimate one. Not to say there’s no good covers. I’d also check out that comedy version by Arthur Mullard (I know, I know) and Hylda Baker. It’s absolutely hilarious!

Number 3;…

Crocodile Rock

Album: Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player

Year: 1972

Crocodile Rock is always a lot of fun to listen to and/or play on guitar/whatever instrument you have. The farfisa organ adds a truly distinguishable tone to the song. The song is influenced by Daddy Cool, Del Shannon (a totally underrated rock & roll musician!) and Bill Haley & His Comets. I dunno the precise meaning of ‘Crocodile Rock’.My guess is that…

Apparently, Elton and Bernie Taupin were accused of ripping off a Pat Boone song called Speedy Gonzales, but thankfully the case was dropped. I have to admit, I’ve never heard Speedy Gonzales, nor do I know any other song that shares the same chord sequence as Crocodile Rock.

Number 2;…

The Bitch Is Back

Album: Caribou

Year: 1974

And this is the song that caused some controversy. Look, I know the term ‘bitch’ ain’t exactly a friendly word, but it ain’t a swear word. Anyway, nobody objected when David Bowie sang ‘so we bitched about his fans’ for Ziggy Stardust. So why bitch about The Bitch Is Back’s name?

Moving on, apparently the origins date back to some personal yet minor feuds Elton had with the music staff. Apparently, Mrs Taupin once referred to Elton as a ‘bitch’ whenever Elton arrived in not such a good mood, hence The Bitch Is Back. Funnily enough, I always saw Elton as more of the cheerful and/or calm type, but I’m probably over-estimating. I never met him anyway, yet. Rock Profile demonstrates otherwise, but because he’s played by Matt Lucas in that show, that doesn’t count. With that said, the title has been humorously referenced in other media, i.e. that Simpsons episode where he meets Apu, oh and in that Casper movie where Carrigan rises from the dead.

There’s a darn good reason why we need to petition the radio stations to cut The Bitch Is Back some slack. The Bitch Is Back is a massively underrated glam-rock anthem. Seriously, check out the guitar intro. Whoever played that is obviously skilled! The rest is also pure entertainment. Don’t believe me? See the above video.

If ever Elton did an Anarchy In The UK, The Bitch Is Back is pretty close.

Honourable Mentions;

And the number 1 Elton John song is;…

Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting

Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Year: 1973

The moment many of us was all waiting for! Anybody up for some Rolling Stones/Who style rock? And speaking of Saturday, that’s what today is!

Every time I listen to Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, I always smile and get into the groove. Seriously, I never get tired of this one. It’s easy Elton John’s best! He probably prefers other songs of his to this one, but that’s a different story. Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, like Crocodile Rock and many glam-rock hits in general, owes a lot to the 50s/60s rock & roll scene. Bernie once described it as an American rock & roll song set in Britain.

The ‘fighting’ part was inspired by Bernie’s witnessing of certain fist fights he saw in local pubs as a teenager, but I wouldn’t have said that he or Elton would mean literally fighting. I’m kinda thinking campaigning sort-of fighting, ya know, campaigning to have a good time on a Saturday night, hence, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.

What really stands out about this song though is the guitar and piano dominated bridge. I totally love that bit and I think many Elton John fans would agree. There’s a really hilarious reference to the bridge in that Vicar Of Dibley episode where the church community have apparently invited Elton to perform at a charity community fair; when Geraldine hears that he’s coming, she excitely plays the riff on the church organ. Awesome, ain’t it.

So that was my personal top 11 songs by Elton John. I hope Elton has a great time today considering he’s hit his big seven-o. And happy Saturday. Get ready for some fighting on the night!

Top 11 Album Tracks by David Bowie

David Bowie could’ve been 70 today. This is why I’ve decided to put together my personal top 11 list of his album tracks. Last year, I wrote my personal top 11 list of his singles, so for a change, these are his album tracks; I’m excluding his singles and including his songs that were featured on his studio albums and never got released as singles. Of course, in a few days time will be the 1st anniversary of when I woke up to the most traumatic news of my life, need I say.

So here’s my Top 11 Album Tracks by David Bowie. Why top 11? Because I’m going one step beyond.

 

Number 11;…

  • Girl Loves Me

Album: Blackstar (2016)

Taken from Blackstar, David’s final album, Girl Loves Me is one of only two tracks from the album never to be released as singles (the other being Dollar Days), unless they intend to have it released in the future. This one has a slightly different rhythm to most of David’s previous material. It contains some swearing; repeated uses of the f word – I ain’t saying it’s unusual for him to swear (he did say the f word once on We Are The Dead and one of his songs with Tin Machine), but then this is probably the most times it’s mentioned in a song. It also includes reference to A Clockwork Orange and 1984, again what’s new? But actually, what’s different about the song is the thumping bass rhythm and that it’s believed that David was inspired by a couple of young American rappers, one of them being Future.

 

Number 10;…

  • Scream Like A Baby

Album: Scary Monsters & Super Creeps (1980)

Scream Like A Baby tells the story of a guy named Sam who’s imprisoned in a futuristic political jail. The song is noted for its ultra-modern new wave/synth pop sounds and David was truly getting updated with the modern world of music!

 

Number 9;…

  • All The Madmen

Album: The Man Who Sold The World (1970)

All The Madmen is partially based on David’s half-brother, Terry, who had schizophrenia and later committed suicide in 1985. The tune starts off folky and then turns to a bit of heavy metal, as soon as Mick Ronson comes in!

 

Number 8;…

  • Queen Bitch

Album: Hunky Dory (1971)

It was a difficult choice between this one and Oh You Pretty Things, but Queen Bitch is so upbeat and gives its actual nod to glam-rock, demonstrating that Hunky Dory truly entered David into the era. This one, apparently influenced by Lou Reed and his then-band The Velvet Underground. Without David, Lou probably would’ve never been noticed. Lou would later cover this one, presumably his thanks to David. This one always makes me happy.

 

Number 7;…

  • Battle For Britain (The Letter)

Album: Earthling (1997)

How’s about a bit of industrial rock and drum & bass, Prodigy-style. What I got out of Battle For Britain was an anti-war message, hence why it’s also called The Letter, presumably a letter to stop a war from coming. Mind you, you’d probably remember the battle of Britain which took place in World War 2. Hell, there was also a film about it. Plus the instruments do sound as aggressive as The Prodigy,

 

Number 6;…

  • I Took A Trip On The Gemini Spacecraft

Album: Heathen (2002)

Back when the UK charts was so-so; dominated by the likes of Gareth Gates and Britney Spears and Blue and Robbie Williams and Atomic Kitten, you know the rest. David was one of the highlights with his album, Heathen, which included this lovely song, I Took A Trip On The Gemini Spacecraft, which I’m quite surprised was never released on its own. Yes, it’s a cover of a song by a guy named Norman Odam. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to listen to the original. For this one though, still nicely done.

 

Number 5;…

  • ’87 & Cry

Album: Never Let Me Down (1987)

I know, it’s from a rather unpopular album, yet as I described Never Let Me Down in one of my previous posts as a truly underrated one. I really think ’87 & Cry deserves some slack. It contains such a magical sound throughout and an aggressive political message; based on Thatcher’s harsh treaty to the dogs, as opposed to the citizens. While David’s resting in heaven, Maggie’s burning in hell!

 

Number 4;…

  • Nite Flights

Album: Black Tie White Noise (1993)

And here’s a cover of a song by Scott Walker. David did some pretty impressive covers back in his day; Dancing In The Street, Alabama Song, Sorrow, Nite Flights is no exception. This version contains heavy electronic sounds; one of the tunes I would put on to help me relax from stressful days.

 

Number 3;…

  • Aladdin Sane (1913–1938–197?)

Album: Aladdin Sane (1973)

No I ain’t referring to the Disney version of Aladdin. Actually, I’m talking about an endless, almost piano-dominated piano jazz-ish song, which refers to a guy who’s insane. Get it, A Lad In Sane? I’m quite surprised that Aladdin Sane (1913–1938–197?) was never released as a single, despite appearing on David’s ChangesTwoBowie album. Aladdin Sane is an apparent prediction that World War 3 may occur, hence the years in parentheses referring to the pre-dates of both World Wars. This would be the beginning of David’s interest in taking on experimental music. And was Mike Garson’s piano riff improvised?

 

Number 2;…

  • Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (reprise)

Album: Diamond Dogs (1974)

Diamond Dogs began with Future Legends, which introduced the album and went straight to the title track. Then along came the Sweet Thing suite. Okay, it’s three tracks, but if you put them together, you get one masterpiece. What can I say about this epic prog rock yarn; one of them songs where David reaches the lowest note as possible. Of course, his voice was beginning to lower as he aged. His voice is so in a similar boat to my voice! It also demonstrates his multi-instrument playing skills (guitar, saxophone, synthesizers). Any more to say on this one? I love the guitar riff near the start and it sure is a spooky one!

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some honourable mentions;

 

And the number 1 album track by David Bowie is…

  • Hang On To Yourself

Album: The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars (1972)

And Thunderbirds are go! What can I say about this one? This one always puts a smile to my face. I love the chord sequence and the high tempo. It’s a fantastic rock & roll and glam rock yarn. Only two minutes and just over a half, what more could you expect from Hang On To Yourself?

Special mention goes to Ziggy Stardust, which is from the same album. But I was a bit unsure whether it would count as an album track, considering the live version was released later on. Yet again, who knows?

 

So that’s my Top 11 list. I’m sorry I only provided limited information. I had limited time to write it. But by all means, check out the songs.

In a bit.

My personal Top 12 Christmas Songs

It’s that time of year again as we enter December and Christmas is once again on its way. Which is why this time, I’m reviewing what I personally regard as the best Christmas songs. Last year, it was films, so I thought I might have a go at the songs. So here’s my personal top 12. Why Top 12? Because Christmas is coming!

#12;

I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas – The Three Stooges

I begin this list with an amusing one by a classic comedy group from the golden age of film-making; I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas by The Three Stooges. Shame about Curly though, but with that said, the Stooges sang this version so darn well. It goes to show that just because one’s a comedian, doesn’t mean they don’t have talent in singing whatsoever, ditto Laurel & Hardy, Billy Connolly and the Monty Python team.

As for the song’s subject matter, we’ve all made our Christmas lists in the past and put certain items on them, including pets, And yes, the idea of wanting a hippo for Xmas, oh my god, that’s so funny!

 

#11;

Getting Ready For Christmas Day – Paul Simon

This is one of the more recent Xmas songs (from 2011) and Paul Simon remains as great a music artist as ever, even over four decades since he last performed with Art Garfunkel, hence his album Graceland. It does sound different to many other Christmas songs. I mean there’s no sleigh bells or percussion instruments imitating such a thing, traditional xmas melodies or church bells, but who cares? David Bowie proved that it’s okay to be different. One main difference from Getting Ready For Christmas Day is the awesome guitar rhythm!

 

#10;

Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney

I’ve got fond memories of this song. Okay, I maybe more into the Beatles stuff than them as solo artists, but this is one of Paul’s best songs as a solo artist. I may not have practised this song all year long, but all they years since I first heard it, I’ve known the lyrics and the impressive synthesised rhythm. It’s truly a memorable one!

What else to say about Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time, it’s just great!

 

#9;

Merry Jingle – The Greedies

How’s about a bit of punk rock Christmas music? Well, technically, it’s two bands performing together to form one band, one, a punk rock band, the other, an Irish hard rock/heavy metal band; Sex Pistols and Thin Lizzy, and you get the Greedies. And speaking of combining two things together; they manage to blend two traditional Christmas carols together; We Wish You A Merry Christmas and Jingle Bells and they turned it into an underrated Xmas masterpiece!

My only nitpick with the song is that I would’ve personally preferred the Jingle Bells bit if The Greedies sang the Batman version, ya know, Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg, the Bat-mobile lost its wheel and the Joker got away. It’s how I kinda remember Jingle Bells, but oh well. it still holds up.

 

#8;

Ring Out Solstice Bells – Jethro Tull

Another criminally underrated Christmas song. Jethro Tull, mainly remembered for their psychedelic/blues/folk material (i.e. Living In The Past), first performed this one back in 1976 and came from the album Songs From The Wood, later appearing on their final album, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album. But the strangest thing is, it never charted. It’s possible that that’s the reason why it seems so overlooked.

Personally, I don’t think the charts should ever have to affect people’s views in music. I suggest you try and get hold of one of them two albums or even a Christmas compilation CD which features this masterpiece. It features a beautiful flute melody from Ian Anderson and piano riff which are enough to sound Christmassy. In fact, I’d also recommend it’d make a great Christmas carol to sing in church.

 

#7;

Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

Earlier on, I mentioned a punk rock Christmas song. How’s about a new wave one from the American band, The Waitresses? Christmas Wrapping is one such jazzy yarn, I mean listen to them guitar riffs and especially them sax riffs!

But it’s more than just the instruments that make this song so awesome. The song is sung from the point of view of a woman who gets so stressed during the Christmas period. Patty Donahue starts off by singing Bah humbug! No that’s too strong, cause it is my favourite holiday, which shows that she does indeed love Christmas, but due to all the Christmas shopping and the many invites she’s received, she thinks I’ll miss this one this year, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas. And while preparing Christmas dinner, she realises she forgot the cranberries (Oh damn, that’s what I forgot!). While rushing back to the shops for the cranberries, she meets the same man who she collided with through the song, who also happened to forget the cranberries, which leads to a happy ending to the song;

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Couldn’t miss this one this year.

 

#6;

2000 Miles – The Pretenders

Another new wave song, 2000 Miles is often considered just a song about a couple of lovers living such a long distance between each other. But this Pretenders classic has appeared on a lot of Christmas compilation CDs and there’s a mentioning of Christmas time through the choruses. Basically, the two protagonists want to spend a Christmas vacation together, but it’s hard for them considering the 2000 miles apart they live from each other and considering how bitterly cold and snowy it is outside.

Robbie McIntosh’s guitar riff adds a magical touch to 2000 miles. The song is dedicated to one of The Pretenders’ ex-members James Honeyman-Scott who died of heart failure at an early age.

 

#5;

Christmas Day – Squeeze

Here’s another Christmas song that doesn’t receive much to any attention. Squeeze’s Christmas Day is a modern retelling of the Nativity story (Mary & Joseph drove into town searching for a place to stay / they tried the hotels, motels, the bed and breakfast), which I believe that, through the lyrics, is so damn creative. I also love how the chorus is constructed; Where would be Christmas be without, Mary & Joseph, Morecome & Wise, Laurel & Hardy, cracker surprise, lights on a pine tree and no after-shave, and not forgetting Jesus who was born on Christmas Day. I find the chorus quite amusing, considering that Glenn Tilbrook mentions the comedy duos i.e. Laurel & Hardy, but also unique and subtle for a Christmas. They often show their material on British TV each Christmas.

One possible reason why this song didn’t sell so well was because it was only released in one country, the UK, and ironically didn’t chart, despite Squeeze’s previous two UK#2 songs (Cool For Cats and Up The Junction). And it’s possible that the mentioning that Morecome & Wise are not so well known worldwide than they are in the UK and therefore the public may have ignored this song. Or maybe that they don’t see the comedy duos as anything to do with Christmas. But so what? It mentions the nativity story, the stuff they show each Christmas, it has them harp riffs at the start and sleigh bells, what more could people possibly want from a Christmas song?

Folk,s we got to turn this around. We got to try and increase the CD / download / whatever sales. Check it out, you won’t regret it.

 

#4;

In Dulci Jubilo – Mike Oldfield

Okay, more of an instrumental a song, but In Dulci Jubilo did use to be a Christmas carol. Years later, we had pop composer Mike Oldfield, best known for Tubular Bells, jazz the carol up a bit and turn it into something phenomenal! I mean, listen to the beautiful melody, two recorders, a kortholt, Mike Oldfield on acoustic and electric guitars, piano and ARP string synthesiser, and William Murray on snare drum. Every time I hear it, it makes me so happy. I can’t think of a better way to describe it!

Try and get a hold of a YouTube clip which features a Top Of The Pops performance from the Pan’s People.

 

#3;

Stop The Cavalry – Jona Lewie

As a kid, I never saw Jona Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry as a Christmas, but considering that the chorus features the line; wish I was at home for Christmas, followed by a synthesised melody and sleigh-bells which add a snowy touch, and considering the opening which consists of a staccato synthesiser and drums also sound snowy, I’m convinced.

Though in actual fact, Jona never intended this song to be a Christmas one. More of an anti-war anthem. It’s set during the First World War and concerns a soldier who is caught in the tension between the West and Soviet Unions and has had to fight, almost every night, down throughout these centuries. Although the protagonist tries to be brave in attempting to ‘stop the cavalry’, it does go to show that war is not only hell, but can also interfere with families’ Christmas vacations (wish I was at home for Christmas). And speaking of cavalries, do I need to mention how atmospheric the trumpet melodies are?

 

#2;

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas – Blink-182

Good old Blink-182. How I love their music and their sense of humour. But those ain’t the only reasons why I place I Won’t Be Home For Christmas at number 2.

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas, not to be confused with a Simpsons episode, is an obvious parody to the classic song I’ll Be Home For Christmas (probably the same with the Simpsons ep). Its narrative follows a guy who lashes out at a group of carol singers for disturbing him and his girlfriend and gets put in jail as a result. In a way, I do empathise with the bloke. I know it sounds a bit Scrooge-like, considering that he claims to be growing tired of all this Christmas cheer and warns people that if they don’t want to get beat down, to just leave the presents and let me be alone and that the carollers don’t bring him joy. But all he wants to do is spend a nice peaceful Christmas with his girlfriend.

Then there’s the next act; the cops arresting the protagonist for snapping at the carollers and nearly beating them up. Yet he questions the arrest (they had an unfair advantage) considering that he didn’t even touch them (the lyrics don’t exactly state that he did). My guess is that he has uncontrollable anger management problems and not everybody who has them issues can help it. Then when he spends his time in jail, he tries to end a package (presumably a present for one of his relatives or friends), but a guy named Bubba (who I presume is a fellow jail-bird) intervenes.

I can’t believe how much I Won’t Be Home For Christmas is widely ignored. Even my family don’t seem to admire it that much and seem to dismiss it. Probably the reason is because it only charted in one country; Canada, at number 1 (lucky position!) and not anywhere else. Also because MSN Canada once called it ‘a high energy of punk war on Christmas’. But I’m sure Blink-182 were doing it, for their sense of humour, something I feel listeners lack. If they overlook it so much in music, what’s with their high admiration on them Christmas specials for them British comedies?

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas is a criminally underrated masterpiece which highlights the reality of things; that not everybody has a very merry Christmas each year. It has a great sense of humour, well thought through storytelling and a splendid tune behind the lyrics.

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some honourable mentions;

It’s Christmas Time – Status Quo

Silver Bells – Perry Como

Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard

You’ll Know It’s Christmas – Deacon Blue

And One more for the kids;

And my number one favourite Christmas song is;

Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid

Ding Dong Merrily On High! In heaven the bells are ringing!

Some of you are probably smiling about the fact I put such a classic charity song on the very top. Well, as a matter of fact, I’ve loved Do They Know It’s Christmas ever since I first heard it. Maybe it’s because of the Feed The World bit which closes the song. It always brings a smile to my face. I of course am referring to the 1984 version.

But it’s more than the Feed The World bit which makes the song so awesome. Band Aid wrote it for charity for the famine in Ethiopia which was so serious back then and what a stupid cow Margaret Thatcher was to ignore such an issue. Luckily, Bob Geldolf and Midge Ure had a heart and he and his friends saved at least some Ethiopians from hunger. The whole point of Do They Know It’s Christmas is that no they don’t because they’re dying of starvation, which is what they’re trying to get across to the listeners. It still goes on there, but Do They Know It’s Christmas demonstrates how important it is that every person should have the right for a happy occasion. The fact that it reached number 1 isn’t important to this ranking, but it was great that it did, because more money was going to Africa and famine would start to decrease.

Another thing cool about Do They Know It’s Christmas is how Bob managed to get so many famous musicians to participate in the recording; U2, we of course know the line Bono sang, George Michael, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Paul Wellar, Boy George, them two guys from Status Quo, Sting, you name it. And yet, they sang this anthem so darn awesomely! I’d avoid listening to the 1989 version, because it ain’t well constructed as this one.

I’d also recommend having a look at the Live Aid version as shown in the clip above. It may have been a strange time to perform a Christmas song in the middle of the summer period, but of course, Live Aid was a charity concert, also in aid of the Ethiopians suffering from famine, just like the song. David Bowie makes a great start on the song, with Bob singing the next lines. Bono still sings Well tonight thank god it’s them, instead of you. It’s as entertaining as the original recording, which will get you bouncing on your feet.

 

So after reviewing my personal top 12 Christmas songs, here’s to you all, let’s raise a glass for everyone, and to them underneath that burning sun. I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Top 11 Van Morrison songs

Some of you may have heard that earlier this year, George I(Van) Morrison was knighted. This is definitely one of the highlights to 2016, which made up to some of the traumatic moments that occurred so far. I also have to point out that Van is one of my favourite singers of all time. I admire his song-writing talent and what a distinctive singing voice he has. He truly earned the title ‘sir’.

So in celebration to his knighthood, I’m counting down my personal top eleven songs performed by Sir Van Morrison. Why top eleven? Because I’m going one step beyond.

 

Number 11;…

Have I Told You Lately

One of the most unforgettable ballads ever to have been released. The majority of love songs are cliché and would usually send me to sleep, but Have I Told You Lately is pure genius. Van Morrison didn’t just write ballads, but there’s noting wrong with releasing one now and then. This one has an Everything I Do I’d Do It For You feel to it and is one that ought to be played sometimes at the end of prom discos.

Number 10;…

I’d Love To Write Another Song

Van kept himself busy through the years and I believe I’d Love To Write Another Song clearly states that he ain’t never going to give up writing his material until he dies. I’d Love To Write Another Song is a simple blues rhythmic song and I have to say I’m always in favour for a bit of blues. Maybe I could recommend this one for the music teachers to use when teaching their students.

Number 9;…

Gloria

In my opinion, Van’s signature tune with Them. It’s hard to believe how young Van was back then; like 18 or 19, somewhere in his late-teens and already, he’s reached his seventies. Also, have you noticed the voice he used when he sang Gloria? It’s like he’s already exited his youth and reached pure maturity, or just hit pubety at an early age (just kidding!). Mind you, Johnny Cash sang with an extremely deep voice ever since he started his music career. But it ain’t just Van’s singing which is the highlight of this song. Listen to the simple three chord guitar rhythm and try having a go at playing it while singing the lyrics, which I swear some of it was improvised!

Number 8;…

Moondance

Now onto the jazz man! So said Mr T. Some people say you can only dance to disco or dance music or hip-hop. But they’re not always right, hence Moondance. It’s a jazz tune, but I’m in favour of jazz and who says you can’t dance to this one. It has plenty of rhythm, it has a relaxing effect, it’s a nocturnal classic. Did you know that Moondance is one of very few songs to have been played over a thousand times?

Number 7;…

And It Stoned Me

Another lovely song from the Moondance album. And It Stoned Me taught us an important lesson; even though country music is more of an American thing and Van is Northern Irish, you don’t have to be American to be a country musician. Of course, the majority of Van’s music seemed to be more popular in the USA than in the UK, according to the charts. Like many country anthems, And It Stoned Me provides a detailed story-telling theme. It’s based on a quasi-mystical experience Van had when he was 12. He talks about how he used to go to a place called Ballystockart for a fishing trip, at one time, hitch-hiking (“Almost let a pick-up truck nearly pass us by/So we jumped right in and the driver grinned/And he dropped us up the road/Yeah, we looked at the swim and we jumped right in
Not to mention fishing poles”). The title and the chorus also give me the impression that he got drunk whilst he was there. Easy there Van, lol. There’s also a bit of jazz mixed in. Have a listen to the sax riffs.

Number 6;…

When Will I Ever Learn To Live In God

I may not be a religious person, but I have nostalgic memories of this song. When Will I ever Learn To Live In God to me is what I see in a great example of an easy listening song. To me, God is a symbol of positivity. We had Avalon Sunset on cassette and we would often play it in the car. When Will I Ever Learn is one of the most memorable.

Number 5;…

Wonderful Remark

Wonderful Remark was written for the hilarious Martin Scorsese film The King Of Comedy, which is about a guy who persuades a fictional comedian to give him a slot on his show. Pity it wasn’t nominated an Oscar, because it’s such a nice gentle tune and it goes so well with the film’s atmosphere; consisting of Martin’s obsession with New York and showbiz.

Number 4;…

Brown Eyed Girl

Brown Eyed Girl seems easy to cover, hence the guitar chord sequence, but then, you have the lead guitar bit, which is so awesomely written that it’s so difficult to cover. I can get away with playing the intro alright, but the rest of the melody, blimey! Where’s Eric when you need him? That’s what makes the song so great. Even the bass solo contributes to the rhythm.

Number 3;…

Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)

The next entry is a swinging tribute to the r&b/soul singer Jackie Wilson (duh!). Well actually, it was written sometime before Jackie’s death, but Van was definitely ready and prepared to pay his respects to him with a mix of pop, rhythm & blues and jazz. Listen to Van’s opening vocals and the sax and your already in the groove with this classic.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners later covered this one. Maybe not as classy, but it still holds up.

Number 2;…

Whenever God Shines His Light

And this is the song Van duetted with another sir, Cliff Richard that is, on. What better way to group together a growling soul/r&b dude with a baby-faced guy with an angel’s voice (don’t take that the wrong way Cliff) to perform such a classic rhythmic if indeed gospel masterpiece. Taken from Van’s Avalon Sunset, Whenever God Shines His Light was an appropriate song for Cliff to contribute to. We all know Cliff’s a Christian and quite dedicated to his religion. Plus, it comes from a mostly gospel album, likely the best gospel album in the world!

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some honourable mentions;

Precious Time

Warm Love

Bright Side Of The Road

Chick-A-Boom

Baby Please Don’t Go

 

And the number 1 song by Van Morrison is;…

Wild Night

And we’ve hit the jackpot! Wild Night is a perfect song to play at public events and parties, one great song to pick out whilst using the jukebox. I kid you not. This is one song I never get tired of listening to. Fast paced, groovy, relates to the pros of partying out in public. And you can remember the words. Too much to say about this one. Let’s just enjoy!

I’d also check out the Martha Reeves version. It’s the one which was included on the soundtrack to Thelma & Louise, one of my all time favourite films.

 

So that was my personal top 11 pick of the songs by Van the Man. I hoped you enjoyed reading it. Thank you very much and do feel free to leave your comments below.

Top 11 Specials songs

After writing what I consider my eleven favourite songs by David Bowie, I’m now going to explore what I consider the best songs by a British ska punk band known as The Specials.

Some of you may have heard last month of the last year when the drummer John Bradbury died. It’s ironic that he died on the same day as Lemmy (of Motorhead fame) and no one knows what his cause of death was. Earlier that year, the band also lost Rico Rodriguez, the trombone player, who contributed to some of the band’s material. This is why I think it would make sense if I explore the Specials next.

Out of every ska-related band, The Specials are my second favourite (the first being Madness). If there’s one nit-pick I have with the band, it’s the constant changes within the line-ups. For instance, the only original members who currently remain in the band are Terry Hall (vocals), Lynval Goulding (rhythm guitar/vocals) and Horace Gentlemen (bass). The rest of the current members, I hardly know much about. I sometimes wonder what Jerry Dammers (keyboards/composition), Neville Staples (vocals/percussion) and Roddy Radiation (lead guitar) are up to nowadays.

11. Racist Friend

Album: In The Studio

UK Chart Position: 60

Racist Friend is a song that basically attacks racism. I tend to agree with the political views covered in this song. I’d definitely hate to have friends who disapprove of one’s skin color, nationality, features, etc. The lyrics also say so (“If you have a racist friend, now is the time for your friendship to end”), but the singer doesn’t mind if that friend is a relative (“be it your sister, be it your brother…”); that would be fairly embarrassing, but a fairer point. If that person was just a friend who had racist views, I’d see no point in hanging out with him/her.

10. The Boiler

UK Chart Position: 35

The Boiler is one truly haunting song about a woman who gets raped by a mysterious man. The lyrics are so uniquely written and sung. I can’t think of one other song written in the way that Rhoda would panic and scream so loudly that it would put listeners into a frightening situation. This is why I’d recommend that you give The Boiler at least one listen. It brings awareness of sexual harassment and hints that rape is morally wrong. I should also say this to anybody who intends to rape innocent people; you need to take a hint and seriously rethink your actions.

9. A Little Bit Me A Little Bit You

Album: Today’s Specials

UK Chart Position: Didn’t Chart

The first of two entries from the nineties and one of the Specials’ many covers. Today’s Specials was a fine start to the band’s reunion following their 1984 split. The following original members who returned then; Horace, Lynval, Neville and Roddy. Wait a minute, what about Jerry? We’ll get to that later.

I mainly admire the band’s more original stuff, but the covers they do are fine. This version of A Little Bit Me A Little Bit You, written by Neil Diamond and originally performed by the Monkees, is pure great. Seriously, it’s as fab as the original. Well executed.

 

8. What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend

Album: In The Studio

UK Chart Position: 51

And this is the song where the composing guru Jerry Dammers sings lead vocals, and what great vocals. Of course, he sounds a bit like Mickey Mouse with that high pitched voice. It probably was done for comedic effect, which is an advantage, because this song’s so amusing. I mean, the protagonist talks about admiring a friend just for that guy’s girlfriend. Though apparently, Jerry’s motive for taking the lead vocals was because Stan Campbell, who was then the lead vocalist for the album, left the band. But then, we had absolutely no idea Jerry, who is as talented as Brian Eno, could sing so well. He kept that quiet! So kudos to that!

The music video is also worth a watch. It begins with an alien, played by Jerry, who lands on Earth and enters a nightclub, meeting a sailor and flirting with the sailor’s bird. Kinda reminds me of The Man Who Fell To Earth and E.T.

As I close this part of the review, What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend, then The Specials’ final single before their 90s reformation, is an underrated classic. And speaking of the reformation, the band did it without Jerry! Apparently, he moved on to pursue a political career and follow Bob Geldof’s footsteps, and he’s been doing a good job. Though the Specials ain’t much the same without him. I guess all I can say now is;

Come back Jerry! Come back!

 

7. Too Much Too Young

Album: Specials

UK Chart Position: 1

I relate so much to Too Much Too Young! Okay, this may sound debatable considering that this ska punk anthem debates the subject of producing children and considering that I’ve dreamed of starting my own family, thinking how much my future kids would grow up to be like me.

But why do I relate to this song? When I left my teens, many of my friends were getting engaged and married and some of them starting families, meaning that they’d spend more time with their partners and new relatives; consequently, my time with them friends would be more limited. It’s kinda like; “yeah I know you got your family and that, but don’t’cha want to play with me no more?”. That’s the impression I get through that era of life and through the lyrics; “You’ve done too much / Much too young / Now you’re married with a kid / When you could be having fun with me”. On the subject of having babies (“Ain’t he cute? / No he ain’t / He’s just another burden / On the welfare state”), maybe I want to have children, but of course Terry does make clear that parents do need money to look after their children. With that said, it’s a bit harsh to say that the kid ain’t cute, I mean surely the vocalist must’ve found him at least a little cute. We also have to be mindful that whether to give birth should be a choice and if one wants that kid to be born, to plan ahead for the future.

In regards to the other lyrics; “you’re chained to the cooker making current buns for tea” – most certainly not a hobby of mine and what I personally view as a boring activity, and I think that’s how Terry views it too. “Ain’t you heard of the starving millions?” – totally agree with that statement as a lefty who opposes poverty of any kind. “Don’t wanna be rich / Don’t wanna be famous / But I’d really hate to have the same name as you” – that is so me!

6. Pressure Drop

Album: Today’s Specials

UK Chart Position: Didn’t Chart

Another cover from the reunion album. The Toots & The Maytals version may have been an enjoyable treat, but it took seven (well, technically four) guys from Coventry to create an upbeat and bouncy feel to the classic. The Clash, the latter which the Specials once supported, also attempted it, but dude, did you hear them awesome keyboard sounds?

The Specials owe so much to classic reggae.

5. Stereotype

Album: More Specials

UK Chart Position: 6

Stereotype refers to a bloke who enjoys going out to bars each night and let’s be honest has serious drinking problems and is a pure stereotype. It’s an obvious and dark view of the ordinary world. Of course, we have a lot of different stereotypes, but then those in relation to the same stereotype are not so much different, though the band doesn’t mean any offence when he say; “he doesn’t really exist”.

So according to this stereotype of the protagonist, “he spends his weekends with a load of blokes” – (nods head) a very sociable guy, “he forgets the punchline when he tells a joke” – very common for someone who’s drunk. “He wants to stay out, he don’t want to go home” – that is so me! But “til his nicotine fingers are stuck down his throat” – errrr.

During the second verse, due to his careless drinking, the protagonist catches a venereal disease due to what seems to be a violent sexual intercourse with his fiancee and he accuses her of causing it. Then he’s medically advised to take several weeks off beer, which he clearly hates.

After his cure, the protagonist obviously ain’t learned from his mistakes and goes back to heavy boozing again, which gets him into serious trouble with the cops.

Remember kids, if you ever plan to drink, drink wisely and mind how much you drink.

4. Nite Club

Album: Specials

UK Chart Position: 10 (b-side to A Message To You Rudy)

In my younger day,s I remember going to clubs as an excuse to see my old school friends again. I even thought about getting a job at one. But then of course, I find attending night clubs so overrated. I mean, think about it. You can’t socialise properly, the drinks are more expensive compared to taverns and I don’t find dancing with a drink in my hand that appealing.

Nite Klub empathises with my cynicism towards clubs. Terry points out the pointlessness of being in the club (“Is this the in place to be / what am I doing here”) and blames it for changing his sleeping hours (“I sleep all day / It’s the only way”) and ruining his social life. He also criticises the poor quality during the last verse (“I won’t dance in a club like this / the beer tastes just like p**s”).

But that’s not all. The guitarists make up for it as does Horace’s incredible bass solo. Horace is one of the most underrated bass players in music history. I’ve heard guitar solos, sax solos and brass solos, but a bass solo? Very unique!

3. Gangsters

UK Chart Position: 6

What do I need to say about the Specials’ first great hit? A splendid debut for the septet! No, really. For Jerry, Terry, Lynval, Neville, Horace, Roddy and Brad to get together, give birth to 2-Tone and to prove that songs don’t have to be light-hearted to contribute to the ska genre, it was worth the effort.

As ska punk goes, Gangsters is so well written. I mean listen to Horace’s opening bass riff, followed by Terry’s vocal melody. The song also questions the law (“said you’d been threatened by gangsters / now it’s you that’s threatening me”) and mocks the fascism (“Don’t interrupt while I’m Talking, or they’ll confiscate all your guitars”), which at the time begun, thanks to Thatcher.

2. Nelson Mandela

Album: In The Studio

UK Chart Position: 9

Following Nelson Mandela’s death at age 95, it made perfect sense that Free Nelson Mandela would be re-released to honour his memory.

Nelson Mandela refers to a guy who helped to make black people’s lives better, which is why he should be hailed a hero as is made clear through this dance classic. At the time, Nelson was in jail despite no wrong doing, hence why Stan is asking the government nicely to free the dude. The saddest thing is that racism still rages on and certain people especially the British First are still racially intolerant.

This is why I think more parties, carnivals and discos ought to play this song as it not only spreads awareness, but is also a beautifully dance-able tune.

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some honourable mentions;

 

  1. Ghost Town

UK Chart Position: 1

And we’ve hit the jackpot. If you thought Michael Jackson’s Thriller was the scariest song in the world, then clearly, you ain’t heard Ghost Town. Not only is this masterpiece dead spooky, but it’s based based on the real life events that took place in Coventry; thanks to Thatcher, the economy was so screwed up that many places closed down, unemployment rose and the youth was neglected, hence why Coventry was referred to as a ‘Ghost Town’. It’s no joke. My mom was studying at a local college when it all happened. She recalls the times when she listened in to the Specials rehearsing the song.

Ghost Town is like the Specials’ Bohemian Rhapsody. Seriously, no other band could cover this one. If there was a contestant on the X-Factor attempting to cover Ghost Town, (s)he would be so rejected. Even I struggle to play it on guitar.

One important note; there are two versions of Ghost Town. I would advise you go for the extended one. It has Rico’s enduring trombone solo, which contributes so awesomely to the song’s dark tone. No matter how long it is, it never gets boring. Added to that, the guitars and Brad’s drum also add their haunting touch. The shorter version’s fine, I mean it does go with the splendid music video. But if you’re listening to the song on say the radio, you’ll want the extended one.

 

That concludes my personal top 11 list of songs by The Specials. Thank you for reading and feel free to comment.

Worst To Best: albums by David Bowie

After reviewing what I personally regard as the top 11 singles by the one and only David Bowie, I shall now review his albums. David Bowie has produced some of the most unforgettable albums in music history, even the tracks, including those that were never released as singles, are classics! So without further ado, This is my personal list of Worst to Best; Albums by David Bowie.

Keeping in mind that this is a personal opinion.

 

Number 27;…

  • David Bowie (1967)

R-4176127-1458924217-6324.jpeg

Tracklist: “Uncle Arthur” / “Sell Me a Coat” / “Rubber Band” / “Love You till Tuesday” / “There Is a Happy Land” “We Are Hungry Men” / “When I Live My Dream” / “Little Bombardier” / “Silly Boy Blue” / “Come and Buy My Toys” / “Join the Gang” / “She’s Got Medals” / “Maid of Bond Street” / “Please Mr. Gravedigger”

Style: Mod, Pop Rock, Music Hall

Overall Rating: 56.43%

If there’s one album I’d label the worst, it’s David’s self-titled debut one. It ain’t flat-out terrible. It was a fair starting point for young David who was roughly 19/20 back then. The various themes covered through the songs (i.e. drug use through Join The Gang and abortion/cannibalism through We Are Hungry Men) are interesting and Love You Till Tuesday is especially a nice tune, but the majority of the tracks ain’t as memorable as his later works and, yeah, the music hall genre…? If you class David Bowie as your favourite album, fair enough, but dude, did you listen to his other albums?

 

Number 26;…

  • Tin Machine II (1991)

Tin Machine II

Tracklist: Baby Universal / One Shot / You Belong In Rock N’ Roll / If There Is Something / Amlapura / Betty Wrong / You Can’t Talk / Stateside / Shopping For Girls / A Big Hurt / Sorry / Goodbye Mr. Ed

Style: Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 62.5%

The second and final album by Tin Machine, David’s short lived Pop Rock band, also one of the most underrated bands in music history. Tin Machine II, despite the occasional enjoyment, proves to be a weaker album and lacks much themes and creativity, compared to their first one. And I’m a little unsure about the album cover…

 

Number 25;…

  • Hours (1999)

R-218806-1189191681.jpeg

Tracklist: Thursday’s Child / Something In The Air / Survive / If I’m Dreaming My Life / Seven / What’s Really Happening? / The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell / New Angels Of Promise / Brilliant Adventure / The Dreamers

Style: Electronic/Alternative Rock

Overall Rating: 66%

Following Earthling, David switches to a softer rock genre for his final album to be produced by the high profile record company, EMI. There’s nothing much I can say about Hours. It maybe soothing and is about 47 mins long, but it kinda feels longer and is a bit of a snore-fest compared to David’s other 90s albums.

 

Number 24;…

  • Space Oddity (1969)

R-2823685-1302670733.jpeg

Tracklist: Space Oddity / Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed / Don’t Sit Down / Letter To Hermione / Cygnet Committee / Janine / An Occasional Dream / The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud / God Knows I’m Good / Memory Of A Free Festival

Style: Folk Rock, Country Rock, Space Rock, Psychedelic Rock

Overall Rating: 66.5%

Space Oddity, or David Bowie as the album was originally called, but was also called and I’m calling it Space Oddity to avoid confusion with David’s first album, was an improvement to his debut album. The opening track is a definite masterpiece and contributed to the exciting news that Neil Armstrong became the first guy to put his feet on the moon, and a cool collaboration with the incredible Rick Wakeman on the electric harpsichord and mellotron. Space Oddity is his first ‘rock’ album, though I wouldn’t say this album is as super great as his further later stuff.

 

Number 23;…

  • Reality (2003)

R-440226-1300817758.jpeg

Tracklist: New Killer Star / Pablo Picasso / Never Get Old / The Loneliest Guy / Looking For Water / She’ll Drive The Big Car / Days / Fall Dog Bombs The Moon / Try Some, Buy Some / Reality / Bring Me The Disco King / Fly / Queen Of All The Tarts (Overture) / Rebel Rebel [re-recorded version]

Style: Art Rock

Overall Rating: 67.73%

Remember when Disney announced they was doing no more 2D animated films following the release of Home On The Range, but soon they did Princess & The Frog? Well, some of us thought that David was officially calling releasing new material a day after releasing Reality, but we had to be patient for another 10 years. How much can I remember from this album? Well, not much. None of the tracks are exactly Everybody Says Hi or I’m Afraid Of Americans, but with that said, the artwork of the cover is stylish and the bonus track, a re-recording of Rebel Rebel is decent.

 

Number 22;…

  • “Heroes” (1977)

R-5154762-1458217801-4425.jpeg

Tracklist: Beauty & The Beast / Joe The Lion / Heroes / Sons Of The Silent Age / Blackout / V-2 Schneider / Sense Of Doubt / Moss Garden / Neukoln / Secret Life Of Arabia

Style: Electronic/Experimental/Ambient/Art Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 68.5%

Firstly, does the album or the title song really need speech marks? But oh well. “Heroes”, the second album from the Berlin trilogy and one of David’s collaborations with keyboard guru Brian Eno. David tries out more of a Kraftwerk-style – very electronic and a lot of relaxing ambience. David doesn’t do a lot of singing. The only true classics are the first three tracks, plus V-2 Schneider, in fact I wonder what would’ve happened if Beauty & The Beast was used as the theme tune to the Disney cartoon of the same name. The rest of the tracks are better off when you listen to them all together. I personally prefer the single version of Heroes, but I’d take any version over that David Guetta song; ew!

 

Number 21;…

  • Next Day (2013)

R-4876961-1378205300-5764.jpeg

Tracklist: The Next Day / Dirty Boys / The Stars (Are Out Tonight) / Love Is Lost / Where Are We Now? / Valentine’s Day / If You Can See Me / I’d Rather Be High / Boss Of Me / Dancing Out In Space / How Does The Grass Grow? / (You Will) Set The World On Fire / You Feel So Lonely You Could Die / Heat

Style: Art/Glam Rock

Overall Rating: 71.43%

The album cover says it all. David Bowie had returned after a longish break in the music industry and without a word, hence why his face is hidden behind the title. It’s like he didn’t want every Tom, Dick & Harry knowing that he was back in business and had a feeling The Next Day would sell a lot anyway. And gee, was he right. Solid glam rock. Also an improvement to his previous album Reality. The music videos are also worth a viewing. Of course, this album was released during the time when chart music was clearly going downhill. The Next Day does make up for it.

 

Number 20;…

  • Tin Machine (1989)

R-3522074-1333760090.jpeg

Tracklist: Heaven’s In Here / Tin Machine / Prisoner Of Love / Crack City / I Can’t Read / Under The God / Amazing / Working Class Hero / Bus Stop / Pretty Thing / Video Crimes / Baby Can Dance

Style: Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 75.83%

And this was the first of only two albums to be released by Tin Machine. Always a pleasure to listen to, the first two tracks especially, with it’s harder-rock style. The majority of the material is quite political, I Can’t Read being about joblessness and homelessness and Under The God which is an attack on the “right wing d**ks”. There’s also the cover of John Lennon’s Working Class Hero. The songs may not be pure classics, but the album’s worth a listen.

 

Number 19;…

  • Let’s Dance (1983)

R-712084-1275625192.jpeg

Tracklist: Modern Love / China Girl / Let’s Dance / Without You / Ricochet / Criminal World / Cat People (Putting Out Fire) / Shake It

Style: Disco / Pop Rock / Soul

Overall Rating: 76.86%

And now we enter the eighties, the period where Britain was ruled by Thatcher and America was ruled by Reagan. And David gets into the groove with Let’s Dance, a feel good disco album. My main nitpick with the album is the extended versions of Modern Love, China Girl, Let’s Dance and Cat People. I personally prefer the single versions, but they’re still a joy. Did you know that Let’s Dance displays a metaphorical message on anti-racism?

 

Number 18;…

  • Station To Station (1976)

R-4425540-1374431583-4982.jpeg

Tracklist: Station To Station / Golden Years / Word On A Wing / TVC 15 / Stay / Wild Is The Wind

Style: Art Rock / Funk / Blue Eyed Soul / Pop

Overall Rating: 77.5%

Station To Station begins with a superb opening, the title track that is. If you thought Blackstar was the longest track David ever recorded, the title track to this one is several seconds longer and is indeed so rhythmic, the harmonica sound is distinguishable! Though it does introduce The Thin White Duke, David’s most conservative character, if you compare him to Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust, and it was a pretty dangerous move to the public. Golden Years creates a funky groove to the album, TVC 15 is one of my favourite songs of hi, the closing track, Wild Is The Wind, is one of my least favourites, not terrible, just a bit drab and boring.

 

Number 17;…

  • Tonight (1984)

R-470173-1345458522-1643.jpeg

Tracklist: Loving The Alien / Don’t Look Down / God Only Knows / Tonight / Neighborhood Threat / Blue Jean / Tumble And Twirl / I Keep Forgettin’ / Dancing With The Big Boys

Style: Funk / Soul / R&B / Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 78%

Tonight is the sort-of return to David’s old school roots; his alien creations, hence Loving The Alien for instance. Blue Jean is likely to remind listeners of The Jean Genie with a little more grooviness. Speaking of which, one main difference is that the album is slightly more funky and largely influenced by the classic rock & rollers such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Tonight may not follow much of a particular theme, but I seriously can’t understand all the hate-mail it gets. David got soul!

 

Number 16;…

  • Lodger (1979)

R-216167-1348423362-1047.jpeg

Tracklist: Fantastic Voyage / African Night Flight / Move On / Yassassin / Red Sails / D.J. / Look Back In Anger / Boys Keep Swinging / Repetition / Red Money

Style: Art Rock / Avant-Guarde / Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 78%

David’s final album of the Berlin Trilogy, that is Lodger. The Thin White Duke was definitely reaching the end of his era, which was a relief, because it was in fact David’s dodgiest character to date, hence the famous Nazi-salute he made. Boys Keep Swinging may suggest conservatism, hence the lyrics; “nothing stands in your way/you’re always first on the line, when you’re a boy” But what about when you’re a girl? Maybe the video will help. That said, the video’s one of the reasons why I do happen to love that song, and how groovy the music is. D.J. is fairly more democratic and focuses on the protagonist who’s “home, lost my job”, but does Djing in his spare time. Then there’s the opening track Fantastic Voyage which sympathises with those who suffer from depression (“learning to live with somebody’s depression”).

 

Number 15;…

  • Outside (1995)

R-256507-1188750879.jpeg

Tracklist: Leon Takes Us Outside / Outside / The Hearts Filthy Lesson / A Small Plot Of Land / Segue – Baby Grace (A Horrid Cassette) / Hallo Spaceboy / The Motel / I Have Not Been To Oxford Town / No Control / Segue – Algeria Touchshriek / The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty) / Segue – Ramona A. Stone / I Am With Name / Wishful Beginnings / We Prick You / Segue – Nathan Adler / I’m Deranged / Thru’ These Architects Eyes / Segue – Nathan Adler / Strangers When We Meet

Style: Industrial Rock

Overall Rating: 78.03%

Man, you could make a movie/musical out of this one, considering how many tracks there are and that some of them are monologues. Outside reminds me a bit of that Terry Gilliam film, Twelve Monkeys. If you think about it, the album demonstrates a dystopian view of the early part of the then-yet-to-come 21st Century. That I can also judge by observing the chalk-style art on the album cover. The music is Brian Eno and the Pet Shop Boys both put together, though Brian Eno was one of the producers and David did duet with the Boys for Hallo Spaceboy, which is a pure bouncy one!

 

Number 14;…

  • Man Who Sold The World (1970)

TheManWhoSoldtheWorld

Tracklist: The Width Of A Circle / All The Madmen / Black Country Rock / After All / Running Gun Blues / Saviour Machine / She Shook Me Cold / The Man Who Sold The World / The Supermen

Style: Hard Rock / Heavy Metal / Glam Rock / Blues Rock / Folk Rock

Overall Rating: 80%

The Man Who Sold The World signified how much David’s creativity was improving following his self-titled album and Space Oddity. Music-wise, the album is like a mix between Bob Dylan and Black Sabbath, in short, folk and heavyish metal. The title track is a nice folk song with a distinctive heavy guitar riff. All The Madmen draws on the schizophrenia his half brother had, while Running Gun Blues draws on the influences the Vietnam war had with a great gun (well, drum) riff. Did I mention that it also signals Mick Ronson’s first contribution to the legend?

 

Number 13;…

  • Young Americans (1975)

R-789507-1275625071.jpeg

Tracklist: Young Americans / Win / Fascination / Right / Somebody Up There Likes Me / Across The Universe / Can You Hear Me / Fame

Style: Blue Eyed Soul, Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 81.25%

Dave switches glam-rock for a bit of soul. We always knew his voice was as strong as say, James Brown’s, plus I reckon Diamond Dogs and his cover for Knock On Wood which he did for David Live definitely defined him as a soul musician. High points; I’m always in favour for some soul. The opening track makes me really want to visit the USA. Fame is what you call David’s Bohemian Rhapsody. I so want to cover that song, but it’s impossible to play on guitar.  dunno how David managed it. A little less of a major theme, compared to Diamond Dogs and/or Aladdin Sane, but Young Americans still has the groove.

 

Number 12;…

  • Hunky Dory (1971)

R-422921-1352848584-4544.jpeg

Tracklist: Changes / Oh You Pretty Things / Eight Line Poem / Life On Mars? / Kooks / Quicksand / Fill Your Heart / Andy Warhol / Song For Bob Dylan / Queen Bitch / Bewley Brothers

Style: Folk Rock / Glam Rock / Art Rock

Overall Rating: 81.82%

Many people consider Hunky Dory as David Bowie’s best album. Some readers are going to wonder why I ranked this album so off the top 10. I admit I like it better than The Man Who Sold The World and I give it credit for David’s first contribution to the glam rock era. But I don’t think Hunky Dory is as strong as, say, Aladdin Sane or Ziggy Stardust. Most of it’s a bit folksy and quiet, more like Tyrannosaurus Rex’s (later known as T.Rex) earlier material. However, the piano riffs from Rick Wakeman are so boogieing-great, especially on Changes, and there’s the nice soft melody on Life On Mars too. David also contributes to piano, on Oh You Pretty Things and Eight Line Poem. My favourite tracks from this album are Changes and the good ol’ rocking Queen Bitch! Speaking of Life On Mars, surrealism at its best also! “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow”, what next, Bugs Bunny has grown up an orang-utan? lol.

 

Number 11;…

  • Pin-Ups (1973)

R-440664-1386506513-3045.jpeg

Tracklist: Rosalyn / Here Comes The Night / I Wish You Would / See Emily Play / Everything’s All Right / I Can’t Explain / Friday On My Mind / Sorrow / Don’t Bring Me Down / Shapes Of Things / Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere / Where Have All The Good Times Gone?

Style: Glam Rock / Protopunk

Overall Rating: 82.5%

Okay, there ain’t much of a particular theme to Pin-Ups. It’s basically just a covers album, entirely with covers. David Bowie is best with his originals. But in the end, it doesn’t mean the album’s dreadful. There are some music artists who have made some awesome covers; The Searchers, Showaddywaddy, Marilyn Manson,… some to name. But then you had The Sex Pistols’ Great Rock & Roll Swindle which is worth skipping. It so can’t compare to Pin-Ups. David’s covers are great! So what if he’s performed songs by other artists. He’s added a different sound to them. His version of Here Comes The Night by Them is really rocking, as is Where Have All The Good Times Gone? and See Emily Play. Hell, his version of The Merseybeats’ Sorrow is really creative; the strings really contribute to the sadness of the thing, hence Sorrow.

 

Number 10;…

  • Scary Monsters (& Super Creeps) (1980)

R-423056-1459603562-9526.jpeg

Tracklist: It’s No Game (No. 1) / Up The Hill Backwards / Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) / Ashes To Ashes / Fashion / Teenage Wildlife / Scream Like A Baby / Kingdom Come / Because You’re Young / It’s No Game (No. 2)

Style: Art Rock / Post Punk / Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 82.5%

Starter from ten, David’s stylish contribution to the post-punk/new wave era and the beginning of the eighties, Scary Monsters (& Super Creeps). Scary Monsters demonstrated how much David was moving on up in the various musical eras that went by. He did indeed kiss his butt goodbye to glam rock after his release of Diamond Dogs and he finished with kraut-rock, hence Lodger. For those who don’t know, post-punk is a type of music genre that emerged in the late 1970s and was an experimental version of punk rock. The title track uses a similar style to the Pop Group and Joy Division, Fashion, by its funky bass riffs, sounds a bit like Devo, while the pop-oriented Up The Hill Backwards is much like the Talking Heads.

One thing’s for sure, Dave was still at his storytelling mode; Ashes To Ashes resurrects Major Tom (originally from Space Oddity), while Scream Like A Baby is about a guy who’s being held in a political prison.

 

Number 9;…

  • Low (1977)

R-216166-1275625649.jpeg

Tracklist: Speed Of Life / Breaking Glass / What In The World / Sound And Vision / Always Crashing In The Same Car / Be My Wife / A New Career In A New Town / Warszawa / Art Decade / Weeping Wall / Subterraneans

Style: Art Rock / Ambient / Avant-Pop / Experimental Rock / Electronic

Overall Rating: 82.96%

First of all, I love the cover to this album. It has a beautiful analogous colour scheme and the orange background contrasts really well with David’s hair. Did you know that it was also used on the film poster to The Man Who Fell To Earth? And my God what an awesome film it is!

Anyway, back on the subject of Low. This one was not only the introduction to the Berlin trilogy, but it’s the best one. It’s a lot different to most albums. It’s purely atmospheric! David provides less vocals, but so what? Did you expect him to just sing? David is fluent on so many instruments; saxophone, guitar, harmonica, keyboards, synthesizer, er… xylophone, some to name, and Low demonstrates so. If he wants to give his vocals a break, let him. Take the Eric Clapton style Sound & Vision for example; The first half is vocal free with an awesome guitar melody, then he digs into the singing. Even the jazzyish Breaking Glass has only one verse, but we’re still entertained by the contribution from the guitars.

I should also mention that Low is also David’s first collaboration with former Roxy Music synthesizer player and general music guru Brian Eno. He too makes a difference to the album. If you don’t believe me, have a listen to the beautiful ambience, i.e. on Warszawa.

 

Number 8;…

  • Never Let Me Down (1987)

R-1129693-1249992754.jpeg

Tracklist: Day-In Day-Out / Time Will Crawl / Beat Of Your Drum / Never Let Me Down / Zeroes / Glass Spider / Shining Star (Makin’ My Love) / New York’s In Love / ’87 And Cry / Too Dizzy / Bang Bang

Style: Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 85%

So David wasn’t receiving much critical acclaim through the late 80s. (sighs) I dunno. Many people admire 80s music and yet they stand clear of Never Let Me Down, David’s most underrated masterpiece. What could be so wrong with a former glam rockster like him contributing to a bit of 80s pop. Alvin Stardust got a chance. Oh and I should also state that Never Let Me Down is also one of David’s most political albums.

Day In Day Out is a fantastic opening which attacks homelessness. I would also recommend checking out the music video which is about a young single mother who struggles financially to look after her kid and as a result turns to prostitution. Time Will Crawl, apparently one of David’s favourite songs, is a smooth classic which owes a lot to Neil Young and concerns the events of the Chernobyl disaster. 87 & Cry criticises then UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher. And we have a bit of old school art rock through Glass Spider, about spiders and corpses.

 

Number 7;…

  • Heathen (2002)

R-596511-1229637491.jpeg

Tracklist: Sunday / Cactus / Slip Away / Slow Burn / Afraid / I’ve Been Waiting For You / I Would Be Your Slave / I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship / 5:15 The Angels Have Gone / Everyone Says ‘Hi’ / A Better Future / Heathen (The Rays)

Style: Art Rock / Progressive Rock

Overall Rating: 88.33%

If Hours wasn’t so brilliant, how about Heathen, Dave’s return to a bit of space rock? Well, it does sound rather space-ish, and the artistic album cover says it all, helped by David’s glowing eyes. David turns to the more modern style of Pink Floyd for this one. Sunday is a splendid smooth opening with space control style guitars. Slip Away is another cool contribution, helped by the lyrics; “twinkle twinkle uncle Floyd”. Even I Took A Trip On The Gemini Spacecraft is an atmospheric yarn! Everybody Says Hi is a pop classic! I can’t believe its UK chart position was kinda low (20).

Modern prog rock at its best! And I also thank the guest musicians; Pete Townsend and Dave Grohl , for making a difference to this albu.

 

Number 6;…

  • Black Tie White Noise (1993)

R-1053766-1188418843.jpeg

Tracklist: The Wedding / You’ve Been Around / I Feel Fine / Black Tie White Noise / Jump They Say / Nite Flights / Pallas Athena / Miracle Goodnight / Don’t Let Me Down And Down / Looking For Lester / I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday / The Wedding Song

Style: House / Soul / Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 91.67%

If you thought the 90s was all about Britpop and ‘Girl Power’, clearly you’re living in a small world. I grew up in the 90s and I distinctly remember it was so much more than them; the Disney Renaissance, the Nicktoons, the game shows (i.e. Fun House and Gladiators), them cool BBC 2 idents, Sega(!), the Beautiful South, the Corrs, M-People, and there was David’s classic house and soul album Black Tie White Noise.

Black Tie White Noise is a great opportunity to get you in the 90s groove. It also relates to Dave and Iman’s then new marriage. Love maybe a cliche to the music industry, but the funky rhythm helps to keep us invested. We begin with The Wedding which starts with a lovely melody of bells, which also ends the last track; The Wedding Song. Miracle Goodnight highlights the best part of a wedding day, the evening, which the newly wed husband and wife get to spend a peaceful moment alone. Of course, not all the songs are in relation to the wedding. Jump They Say, despite its bounciness, is a song which relates to mental conditions and how it can sometimes lead to suicide. It sees the narrator attempting to talk a guy out of jumping off a tall building (“I say he should watch his ass”).  Did you know that David lost his schizophrenic half-brother to suicide? The impression I get from Black Tie White Noise (title track) is the joys of black and white people interacting with each other. This I personally prefer to Ebony & Ivory.

I recommend you get a hold of the 2003 remaster. It contains some badass remixes of the songs, which is great, because not all remixes are that great, but them ones definitely are. It also contains the theme tune to that Ralph Bakshi movie, Real Cool World.

I may not pay much attention to the charts, but Black Tie White Noise deserved that UK#1 spot!

 

Number 5;…

  • Aladdin Sane (1973)

R-354906-1412775755-4012.jpeg

Tracklist: Watch That Man / Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) / Drive-In Saturday / Panic In Detroit / Cracked Actor / Time / The Prettiest Star / Let’s Spend The Night Together / The Jean Genie / Lady Grinning Soul

Style: Glam Rock / Hard Rock

Overall Rating: 95.5%

Aladdin Sane, David’s ultimate rock album, ‘ard rock I tells ya. Well most of the material relates to hard rock. Who says you can’t do a bit of air guitar to The Jean Genie, a simply written, but entertaining rock song? Speaking of which, Jean Genie and Aladdin Sane; a subtle reference to the story of Aladdin. Though in actual fact, the album brings awareness of schizophrenia (and I did mention David’s brother on numerous occasions), hence ‘a lad insane’. Panic In Detroit is another great tune, yet still relates a bit to the condition, hence ‘panic’.

But let me make clear that this album does not poke fun at people with schizophrenia. If you listen closely to Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) (“we’ll love Aladdin Sane”), the lyrics actually accept them into society. That track is the best part. I swear that Mike Garson’s piano playing was so improvised!

 

Number 4;…

  • Earthling (1997)

R-132275-1189020047.jpeg

Tracklist: Little Wonder / Looking For Satellites / Battle For Britain (The Letter) / Seven Years In Tibet / Dead Man Walking / Telling Lies / The Last Thing You Should Do / I’m Afraid Of Americans / Law (Earthlings On Fire)

Style: Industrial Rock / Drum & Bass / Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 96.39%

Another 90’s gem. If Black Tie White Noise’s music was written in a similar style of Shamen and M People, Earthling relates more to the Prodigy and Nine Inch Nails. See what I told you about the 90’s?

Earthling demonstrates how confident David was and how fantastically he did in trying out new music styles. Little Wonders hardly sounds much like Changes or Rebel Rebel, but it doesn’t have to. It’s still an unforgettable classic as is the funky fish-out-of-water song I’m Afraid Of Americans. The whole album contributes to the fish-out-of-water theme as suggested by the title Earthling. I’m Afraid Of Americans, as I discussed in one of my previous blog posts, is also a political observation on the country, where politics of course vary.

 

Number 3;…

  • Diamond Dogs (1974)

R-375621-1381773798-7926.jpeg

Tracklist: Future Legends / Diamond Dogs / Sweet Thing / Candidate / Sweet Thing (reprise) / Rebel Rebel / Rock & Roll With Me/ We Are The Dead / 1984 / Big Brother / Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family

Style: Glam Rock / Hard Rock

Overall Rating: 97.73%

Diamond Dogs; David’s last contribution to glam rock and his darker album. Technically, 1975 was the official end to the glam rock era, but let’s just say that David observed the future and was ready to move on. Here’s what I was getting at when I was talking about darkness.

Diamond Dogs begins with Future Legends, basically David’s spooky introduction to the album, helped by his wolf-like howling, then ending with ‘this ain’t rock and roll, this is genocide!’. That’s when we dig into Diamond Dogs. Sweet Thing, joined with Candidate and Sweet Thing (reprise), is one such epic-ally written suite, lyric and music-wise! We Are The Dead, need I say what it’s about, but it does contain some swearing. Big Brother and 1984, the latter complete with a distinguishable string ensemble both pay tribute to one of the greatest novelists in history George Orwell.

The title track is a more light-hearted tune, certain lyrics aside (“Come out in the garden baby/You’ll catch your death in the fog”), which didn’t come with an official music video. But just imagine if there was one and it starred Goofy, Scooby Doo and Deputy Dawg.

Rebel Rebel, one of my favourite songs by David Bowie, is always a lot of fun and it showed how awesomely David managed on the guitar without needing Mick Ronson’s support. He’s a regular Jimi Hendrix.

 

Number 2;…

  • Blackstar (2016)

R-7948015-1457204301-5032.jpeg

Tracklist: Blackstar / ‘Tis A Pity She Was A W***e / Lazarus / Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) / Girl Loves Me / Dollar Days / I Can’t Give Everything Away

Style: Art Rock / Experimental Jazz

Overall Rating: 97.86%

Well I can’t talk about Blackstar without mentioning that it’s David’s last album,… permanently.

It’s been only several months since the album came out, so I understand if some of you are surprised that I’ve ranked Blackstar at number 2 on this list.

First of all, I have to give a lot of credit to the album for its front cover being the first and only one not to have the singer pictured on it whatsoever. It’s basically a white background with a black star shape. Very symmetrical, very subtle and it looks very basic. However if you reflect the picture in the bright sunlight, you’ll notice a luminous pattern reflected on the star.

Secondly, if you thought Diamond Dogs was David’s darkest album, then you ain’t heard much of Blackstar yet! Blackstar reminds me of Queen’s Innuendo album. If you think about it, Freddie Mercury was seriously ill during production and I think Innuendo was fully aware of that and made it clear that it was going to be Freddie’s last album with Queen. Blackstar highlighted David’s illness due to cancer. If you observe the music videos to Lazarus and Blackstar, he looks in a right state (don’t take that the wrong way).

The opening lyrics to Lazarus (“look up here, I’m in heaven”) is in fact the truth. Blackstar is a lengthy, haunting and epic opening. Girl Loves Me, which contains a strong use of profanity, loses touch of the past. The album closes with I Can’t Give Everything Away, a purely heavenly finale. Its music video is fairly simple, but also extremely moving.

Not only is Blackstar one of my favourite albums by David Bowie, but I rank this as a favourite from the 2010s-onwards by any artist in general; the period in which I personally think the majority of chart music is going downhill. Luckily there’s always some good stuff that comes out, i.e. this powerful masterpiece, which rightfully hit number one in so many countries!

 

And the number 1 album by David Bowie is…

 

  • Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars (1972)

R-618952-1443451473-7889.jpeg

Tracklist: 5 Years / Soul Love / Moonage Daydream / Starman / It Ain’t Easy / Lady Stardust / Star / Hang On To Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Rock & Roll Suicide

Style: Glam Rock / Art Rock

Overall Rating: 98.18%

And we have ignition! Many David Bowie fans consider The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars to be his best one. Of course, despite it being David’s fifth album to be released, Rise & Fall was his first one to chart in the UK.

But there’s so much more. The Rise & Fall tells a very definite story; it’s about a Martian bisexual pop-rock musician called Ziggy Stardust (well duh!) who forms a band called The Spiders From Mars, and goes through a period of drug problems and fan troubles.

Five Years acts as a warning to the earthlings that the world is about to end, because if its apparent lack of resources. This is the voice of the mysterons! Only kidding. With that said, it’s a great message for people to quit wasting things.

Lady Stardust, I always presumed was about Ziggy’s wife, though it’s possible that Lady is secretly a transvestite.

The beautifully composed Starman, which has aged so damn well, represents Ziggy both as a true musician and as a literal star-man from outer space (‘there’s a star man waiting in the sky’), who’s attempting not to make much of a scene (‘he’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds’). Of course, being that the space theme is involved, it does go back to the time when the moon landings were so high profile.

Star follows the similar meaning to Starman, though it’s more upbeat.

Hang On To Yourself is a definite glam-rock/protopunk anthem! Fast-paced, grungy, rhythmic, always a lot of fun. This would make a great song to promote drug awareness.

Ziggy Stardust is a basic summary on the character, his occupation (‘Ziggy played guitar…’), his fame and his apparent death (‘when the kids had killed the man, I had to break up the band’). The guitar and bass parts are so awesomely written; who else could’ve possibly pulled it off! I also swear there are some references to Jimi Hendrix (‘he played it left hand), because of course, that guy died at a young age and his band the Jimi Hendrix Experience would’ve ended so soon after that as a result (‘I had to break up the band’).

Suffragette City; one of the main reasons why I adore this album so much. It’s my favourite David Bowie song! I never get tired of this one. It’s a rock anthem! This could be a great song for feminist rights. I’m one myself.

Rock & Roll Suicide signals Ziggy’s final moments of his life. And before David performed that one live, he did make clear that this was Ziggy’s last ever gig; drug problems and very rough fans that contributed to the character’s eventual passing.

At times, the album is gentle, but then also upbeat. Subtle political messages, too much to say about The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. It’s the greatest album of David Bowie’s I’ve ever heard in my life. I totally agree with those who think so.

 

Righty ho, I’d best go fix a spaceship or something. I hope you had a pleasant read of this post. Feel free to share your opinions.

Top 11 David Bowie songs

Hey guys, this is Jon Ellison. Normally, I review/rank movies and TV shows, but for some time, I’ve also been planning to review music groups, musicians, songs, you name it. I remember studying music after I finished my A-Levels, but I recall not liking the course. Another thing is that I don’t care much for the charts. Whatever position in the charts each song is in or whether it’s in the charts really doesn’t have any effect on my music tastes.

The main reason for this review though is due to the fact that we’ve lost a true musical legend recently, need I give details, a lot of us know about it anyway and it’ll take me time to recover from the event. This is why I feel now would be the best time to rank what I consider the top best song by this particular artist.

David Bowie is my all-time favourite solo musician. Most people consider Michael Jackson to be the ‘king of Pop’, but in my world, David gets the crowning. Let me make one thing clear that it simply has nothing to do with skin color. I say this, because I once stated that I didn’t like 2Pac and some classmate asked a totally random question; “is it because he’s black?”, when in fact, it was to do with his music. And that’s why I admire David Bowie so much. Because of his music.

When I was young, I wanted to follow David’s footsteps, well not just his, other musicians too, but it was especially him I idolized. I’ve got a few albums of his. He’s the kind of person who expresses art through his music. He also experimented with various music genres from folk, art-rock and glam-rock to disco, soul and house. I’m talking a wide range of types of music. If you compare David to, say, Barry Manilow, all Barry Manilow does is boring and forgettable ballads, the only one I can remember off by heart is Mandy and it’s just,… meh.

Actually, a more comparable artist would be Elton John. The reason is because both artists have released ba-jillions of singles and albums (slight exaggeration) and have certainly kept themselves busy for decades. I personally prefer David to Elton. The reason being is that David’s music is less cliché than Elton’s. Elton is one of them artists who writes love songs and we do get an occasional ballad from him. With that said though, he has released awesome material i.e. Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, Crocodile Rock, I’m Still Standing and them songs from The Lion King. David Bowie on the other hand, the majority of his material is more rhythmic, even those album tracks i.e. Hang On To Yourself are so unforgettable.

Anyway we have to move. For the following list, I’m going to rank my top 11 personal favourite songs by David Bowie. Why top 11? Because I’ve decided to follow the Nostalgia Critic’s footsteps and go one step beyond. Before I begin, there’s one problem; David’s got a gigantic collection of over 100 songs. To narrow things down, I’m only going to include the ‘singles’, so if you don’t see Aladdin Sane or 1984 on there, don’t be too surprised.

So let’s enter the golden years as I review the Top 11 David Bowie songs;

 

11. I’m Afraid Of Ameircans

Album: Earthling (1997)

UK Chart Position: Didn’t chart

I commence the countdown engines on with a masterpiece from the nineties. Don’t take the title the wrong way. Despite that, the song did chart in the US, but it’s a mystery why not in the UK and David Bowie lived in the US for a while. I’m Afraid Of Americans is a funky industrial rock song with a sort-of Born In The USA theme. It’s a fish-out-of-water story about a guy who’s new to the country and finds it hard to relate to the residents. Every country does have some cons; there’s gun nuts, there’s the KKK, dodgy politicians. I’m Afraid Of Americans doesn’t literally state them words, but does point out that the USA does have some problems, even though there is some good to it.

 

10. When The Wind Blows

Album: When The Wind Blows soundtrack (1986)

UK Chart Position: 44

For those who don’t know, When The Wind Blows is an animated feature based on one of Raymond Briggs’ graphic novels about an elderly couple who are attempting to survive through a nuclear war. David makes his second contribution to a Briggs related film (the first being The Snowman) with this incredible theme tune. Like the cartoon, When The Wind Blows is  massively underrated. It has rarely appeared on any of David Bowie’s collection albums. It has a distinctive guitar riff and the lyrics so relate to the film’s content. You don’t always need to rely on the film to understand what David’s on about. But I do recommend checking out the film as well as this song.

 

9. Blue Jean

Album: Tonight (1984)

UK Chart Position: 6

Another underrated song. Most David Bowie fans are familiar with Space Oddity, Starman, Jean Genie and Life On Mars, but Blue Jean never seems to be the first song that comes to the fans’ minds when it comes to conversations about the guy. Blue Jean is a nostalgic rock & roll inspired song which parodies the ‘casual sexism’, a recurring theme for many of the rock & roll songs from the 50s and 60s, or as David referred to it as a ‘sexist rock and roll song about picking up birds’. It also pays homage to his older hits i.e. Jean Genie. The song is an entertaining romp which will get you into the groove.

 

8. Jump They Say

Album: Black Tie White Noise (1993)

UK Chart Position: 9

Whilst I was watching the final episode of Top Of The Pops back in 2006, I can remember one of the presenters stating that the nineties was all about Britpop and girl power. Er… no. And this house-techno yarn from one of David’s greatest albums proves them guys so wrong. There was so much more during the nineties. Remember the Prodigy’s hardcore-dance tunes and the M-People’s house power? Jump They Say marks a massive contribution and provides a funky-soul taste. Despite the joy we easily get out of this song, Jump They Say does tackle a emotionally serious issue; schizophrenia leading to suicide. The term Jump They Say refers to demons of a depressed man who encourage him to jump off a tall obstacle to end his life. The singer encourages the man to take no notice and withdraw from committing suicide. David himself had a schizophrenic half-brother who committed suicide and apparently, sometime afterwards, David thought about doing the same. Good job he didn’t in the end, but we can all understand how he felt.

 

7. Sound & Vision

Album: Low (1977)

UK Chart Position: 3

Now for an Eric Clapton-style tune. Dave didn’t play lead guitar on Sound & Vision himself, but still, as I said during the introduction, he was all about making a difference. Sound & Vision could nearly qualify as an instrumental; there are very few lyrics with little meaning; I don’t understand the ‘blue, blue’ bit, though what I do get out of ‘sound & vision’ is the sound of music contribution to any visuals. In a way, Sound & Vision is a song you could listen to for some inspiration. In the end, when I listen to a rock song, I don’t care. If it has a great rhythm/melody to it, I’d feel in the groove for it and Sound & Vision is no exception.

 

6. Modern Love

Album: Let’s Dance (1983)

UK Chart Position: 2

Modern Love is a Little Richard inspired song. This relates to me, because I too am a Little Richard fan. Every-time I listen to one of his songs, I always feel in the groove. My tastes don’t really have much to do with Little Richard’s religion. This is one of the minor things I love about Modern Love. I also admire the lyrics, because it refers to how much the tradition of love relationships is changing and clearly, the protagonist wants to live with his relationship the way he wants and not care about ‘keeping up’ with the other romantic couples, who are probably obnoxious or just assume that the protagonist is going to have a religious wedding and/or following it with sex, sex, sex. Of course, when I was an elementary school student, I had a girlfriend and this seemed to have a lot of impact on our classmates, who asked us immature questions i.e. “are you going to have sex with her?”. Seriously, what would lead to anybody who is our age asking us something that’s clearly taboo and adult. Whatever my then girlfriend and I would’ve done would’ve been our business and not their’s. I remember when we kissed and them boys snitched on us. Again, that was none of their business. But Modern Love is an awesome track, with a great chord sequence, a groovy rhythm and fantastic lyrics.

 

5. Day-In Day-Out

Album: Never Let Me Down

UK Chart Position: 17

Another tune which I consider one of David Bowie’s most underrated material, Day-In Day-Out is also one of his most political. It criticises the urban decay America suffered back then. It tells a story of a young mother who’s struggling financially to look after her child. She shoplifts and even prostitutes herself, but we can’t blame her for that, because she has very little money and she’s homeless. Even the music video demonstrates so and is also underrated. It starts with the baby being delivered and sees the woman struggling in life. It was unfairly banned by certain TV stations, who clearly didn’t observe the subject matter properly and personally, I don’t blame David for how annoyed he was when he heard the news. Day-In Day-Out is a pop rock masterpiece with a heart-pounding rhythm and highly political lyrics. It’s worth a listen.

 

4. TVC 15

Album: Station To Station (1976)

UK Chart Position: 33

I sometimes wonder if Dave looked into the future. To me, TVC 15 is about the development of technology and the impact it has on many people. It is in fact based on a holographic television that Iggy Pop owned and believed was sucking his girlfriend in. This inspired Dave to write the song which sees the protagonist’s girlfriend crawling into the television, motivating the narrator to go in himself and find her. The lyrics “he’s got more channels” is one of the suggestions on how amazing the TV is.

In short, TVC 15 is an observation of the virtual world. This was released over two decades before the Matrix films came out. The music also fits the tone. It begins with a funky bass intro and a nice quiet piano riff. The song may be quiet compared to David’s previous material, but it’s enough to give us inspiration on what’s going on through.

 

3. Changes

Album: Hunky Dory (1971)

UK Chart Position: Didn’t Chart (1971), 49 (2016)

No, I ain’t referring to the Black Sabbath ballad. With that said though, David’s version is also about the current changes of the world, hence Changes. Apparently the song failed to chart on its first release, but over the years, the song has led a large impact. I remember when we had our first PC, we had the Encarta 96 Encyclopaedia and a snippet of this song was included and my god was it awesome!

The lyrics say it all; “And my time was running wild/A million dead-end streets”, “Just gonna have to be a different man/Time may change me/But I can’t trace time”, “So the days float through my eyes/But still the days seem the same/And these children that you spit on/As they try to change their worlds/Are immune to your consultations/They’re quite aware of what they’re going through”, “Changes are taking the pace/I’m going through”. In short, this is a coming-of-age theme and demonstrates that time goes by and nobody gets any younger and it’s time to try different things now and then, overwise you’ll find you ain’t lived a day in your life.

Added to that, Dave was not alone when he recorded this masterpiece. Not many people know that the pianist is in fact the legendary Rick Wakeman. Extra credit goes to him! Dave and Rick, splendid combination!

 

2. Rebel Rebel

Album: Diamond Dogs (1974)

UK Chart Position: 5

I have fond memories of that awesomely riffed hard rock yarn. When I was an elementary school student, we would get lifts to and from school each time and the minibus driver often had Leicester Sound (some local radio station based in Leicestershire, England, which is now called Capital) playing on the radio. Rebel Rebel was one of the songs the DJs played during that time. It’s ironic, because it usually plays music from the 80s, 90s and afterwards. But it didn’t matter. I loved the guitar riff so much I sang to the lyrics, as did some girl who often sat next to me.

8 years later, I covered the song for a concert at Longslade (my high school) which took place during the school’s open day. The school’s purpose was to advertise all the subjects taught and I represented the performing arts section. The theme for our show was based on youth gangs and I had a small part singing Rebel Rebel. When I got to the chorus, a girl named Rebecca, who was also part of the show, came on stage and shoved me. I was like; “hey what the hell do you think you’re doing?” and Becca was like; “You don’t act much of a rebel” and read some poem. Great memories.

Not many people know that the distinctive guitar riff was performed by David himself. Around that time, Mick Ronson would’ve normally contributed to the guitar work. It’s like Dave is developing a similar skill to George Harrison, Brian May and Eric Clapton; singing lead vocals and playing lead guitar simultaneously, which is a rather hard task. Rebel Rebel is also about the narrator tolerating transvestism, which was a controversial topic back then; “she’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl/Hey babe let’s go out tonight”, clearly due to his bi-sexuality, Dave wouldn’t have cared about that ‘woman’s’ gender. It’s an awesome hard-rock song, which I never get tired of listening to. Maybe that song should’ve been used for the trailer of Disney’s Mulan, that would’ve been great, but oh well.

 

Before I reveal my number 1 pick, here are some honourable mentions:




 

And my number 1 favourite David Bowie song is…

 

Suffragette City

Album: The Rise & Fall OF Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars (1972)

UK Chart Position: Didn’t Chart (1976)

And Thunderbirds are go! Apparently David wrote this masterpiece for the then failing  and forever underrated band Mott The Hoople, but they turned that one down and decided to use All The Young Dudes instead. Suffragette City is one of them songs I know how to play on my guitar and every time I play the song. I know all the words and chords and rhythms. It’s an upbeat classic. It also really speaks to me. Each time I think of a Suffragette City, I think of a place where women are free to go and do whatever the hell they please, without the harsh authority. I may be a bloke, but it doesn’t mean I have an arrogant attitude towards females. I reckon this song would make a great political campaign song for women’s rights, LGBT rights and other issues that fix the context. I also think someone should make a YouTube fan video of that scene in Mary Poppins where Winifred Banks sings Sister Suffragette and have Suffragette City dubbed over it. Speaking of films, did you know that the lyrics ‘Droogie don’t crash here’ is a reference to A Clockwork Orange? The kids probably may not, because they’re far too young for that film. This is the kind of line that could be used as a warning to rapists and those who commit domestic violence to back right off.

In fact, Suffragette City is a lot better than I remember it. Not only is it my favourite song by David Bowie, but also one of my top 100 favourite songs in general. If you’re the kind of person who knows nothing about David Bowie and wishes to check out his stuff, don’t forget this one!

 

So that was my top 11 favourite songs by David Bowie. I’m an absolute fan of his work and I can’t think of one song of his that I truly despise. Though if I had to pick a worst song of his, I would say;

 

Just For One Day (Heroes)

Album: F*** Me I’m Famous (David Guetta’s album)

UK Chart Position: 73

That’s the song which he did with David Guetta. While Bowie made a difference to the music industry, all Guetta did was dance mash-ups which are frankly forgettable and no different to one another. Just For One Day is just a mash-up of Heroes, a classic tune. All it does is repeat the last two lines of the chorus and it goes on and on and on and on and oh my God, it’s so much like Kanye West’s Diamonds From Sierra Leone which wrecked a respectable theme tune to a James Bond film sung by the legend that was Shirley Bassey. The fact that she loved Kanye’s version doesn’t change my opinions. It’s like; “just play the whole song” and doesn’t lead a good impact on younger viewers, who have yet to know who David Bowie is.

 

Thanks for reading and I shall sit right there waiting for the gift of sound and vision. God bless David Bowie.