Teenage Wildlife

QWatch August 1999

As reported by Dara O'Kearney
daraok@iol.ie

A gut-busting bonzer of a QWatch this month:

COVER: Bowie's name appears on the cover in a list of people included in the Q reader's poll for Top 100 Stars Of The Century.

PAGE 6: This week's list of contributors also lists the favourite Star Of The 20th Century of each contributor. Contributing editor Steve Malins nominates Bowie as his, as does ad manager Sara Hamalainen.

PAGE 54: Brian Eno is #54 in the afore-mentioned Q Reader's Poll:
"Eno turned himself into the Zelig of modern music, re-igniting flagging careers, from Bowie to James via Talking Heads and U2".

PAGE 56: Debbie Harry is at #46:
"At the height of Blondie's fame, Harry's flair for self-iconisation (the white dress of Parallel Lines; the Atomic bin-liner) was as witty as Bowie's or Madonna's".

PAGE 67: Bowie at #6:

DAVID BOWIE
There ain't nothing but the Dame

Sometimes it's forgotten just how dogged David Bowie has been. Nine unsuccessful singles (and the indignity of being rejected by Apple in 1968) were under the bridge before his debut hit with Space Oddity in 1969. Then he was forced to endure the grim paranoia of the potential one-hit-wonder as a further four bellyflops - including, unbelievably, Changes - followed before his magnificent, Max Factor-enhanced return to the charts with Starman in 1972.

As young as the age of eight, David Jones had boasted to his mother about one day becoming "the greatest rock star in England". Between 1971 and 1980, he arguably became exactly that with a creative roll that rivalled The Beatles in terms of sheer innovation and widespread influence.

Confounding his detractors by staying carefully one step ahead of the game and never bothering to even glance back over his shoulders in creative terms, Bowie dabbled successfully in pocket symphonies, stack-heeled astral pop, white plastic soul, glacial European synthesizer epics, quasi-operetta and abrasive avant-rock - most of the time laced with a melodic sensibility to rival any other 20th Century songwriter.

And yet music wasn't even the half of it. With Bowie, style and posture were equally revolutionary tools. Glam rock may have existed before he adopted its glittery form, but Bowie both conquered it and upped the ante to the point where no one could top his theatricality. Without his 1971 confession of bisexuality (a moot point now, given his public straightness), it's arguable that George Michael and Elton John might still be cowering in the closet, since it paved the way for the screamingly queeny rock star while undeniably lending his image an air of poetic decadence. Aside from all of this, only Queen can lay claim to parallel pioneering of the music video form. If the close of the '70s seemed to sap his creative powers, then he had perhaps enjoyed as skyscraping a peak as any rock star could possibly hope for, while remaining sane and alive.

Like many leaders before him, Bowie lost his way. In the '90s, however, he returned to electronic rock, embracing the Internet and the cut'n'paste musical approaches he first used in his mid-'70s lyric writing. The odd comedy mohican aside, he looks ever more graceful in his advancing years.

Tom Doyle

Recommended album: Hunky Dory (EMI, 1971). Bowie hits his creative stride with this near perfect set of piano-led rock, orchestral pop and folk-flecked balladry

You said: "Because he's the gecko of rock... Hang on, wrong lizard." Sylvia Paul, Kingston-on-Hull"

The piece is accompanied by a mid 70s pic of Bowie smoking Gitanes (caption: "David Bowie: with a fag in his mouth. Ho ho ho."

PAGE 74: The Top 100 are listed in full.

PAGE 118: A 1-star (which means "Poor. Best Avoided") review for Goth Oddity:

GOTH ODDITY: A TRIBUTE TO DAVID BOWIE
ANAGRAM CDM GRAM 121

There are few things in life as rum as goths, wouldn't you say? Any band called Alien Sex Fiend surely has little to contribute to a sane world. Here, then, are a bunch of very queer goth acts - Christian Death, Specimen, Big Electric Cat, more - who have slapped a load of kohl and death wishes on a selection of famous Bowie songs, bludgeoning them all sideways in the process. Bargain bins nationwide fear this compilation's imminent arrival.

Nick Duerden

PAGE 122: A 3-star (which means "Good. Not for everyone, but fine within its field") review of the mid-price reissue of 1. Outside:

DAVID BOWIE
1. OUTSIDE

RCA 74321303392
The one he put out in 1995 with the silly am-dram on it about "art murder"

After a hugely successful but creatively bankrupt '80s, David Bowie began to rediscover his soul. Once he'd scrapped Tin Machine and got working with Lenny Kravitz out of his sytem, he started e-mailing Brian Eno and the result was this. A "non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-cycle" (bet that was Eno's zany idea), the Jackanory bit involves art-detective Nathan Adler and an HIV-positive performance artist called Ron. More crucially, the music is Bowie's best of the decade, with screeching, innovative guitar from Tin Machine's Reeves Gabrels and grand, tumbling piano from old helper Mike Garson. The Heart's Filthy Lesson, We Prick You and Hallo Spaceboy are essential, noisy, daring and ultra-modern. Shame about all the conceptual helium-talk in-between.

Andrew Collins

Influenced by.... U2 "Zooropa"
Influence on....Marillion "Afraid Of Sunlight"

PAGE 132: A 2-star (which means "Average. Caution advised") review of the new Mick Ronson:

MICK RONSON
JUST LIKE THIS

NMC PILOT50

Double CD of long lost tracks from feather-cutted glam rocker who fell to Earth. After Ziggy broke up the band, ex-Spider From Mars Mick Ronson's attempts to kickstart a solo career were interleaved with successful stints with Ian Hunter and extensive session work as gunslinger for hire. This album was recorded in late 1976 and then held hostage and left to gather dust when the required studio payments were found to be wanting. With his trusty Gibson Les Paul at his side, the unreconstructed rocker never quite did look the part as Bowie's sidekick with his satin pedal pushers and backcombed silver barnet. These songs are flavoured ith his obvious love of the blues, tweaked and twisted with just a hint of glam kickback. Blasting off with a stomptastic title track featuring wailing harmonica, the best of the rest (Takin' A Train, Hard Life, Is That Any Way) rattle, throb and resonate with a certain raw, ragged vitality.

Paul Davies

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This document last updated Tuesday, 13-Jul-1999 15:02:55 EDT
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