Ok, so I know a lot of you are probably thinking surely it was all downhill for David Bowie after his 1966 mod-pop masterpiece Can’t Help Thinking About Me, but put your prejudices to one side for a mo as we try and convince you that there are other songs in the Bowie canon worthy of a spin. We refer, of course, to his self-titled 1967 debut LP on Deram.
Now all but the privileged few will have heard the Bromley boy’s debut LP, largely because rock snobs have for decades written it off as a Anthony Newley pastiche. The fact that its preceding single, The Laughing Gnome, featured guest vocals from what sounds like Cilla Black quaffing helium didn’t help matters either.
Nevertheless, David Bowie (the album) is a place we visit regularly, mostly to play Maid of Bond Street, a genuinely tender little ditty that stays in your heads for days. The album also boasts one of his best ever singles, Love you Til Tuesday, which we adore for its juddering downward bass line, chirpy strings and genius pay off line about stretching it to Wednesday. Few other artists have tapped into the frailty of human relationships in such a sympathetic way. Rubber Band with its Salvation Army style shuffle is a wonderful evocation of Olde England – Ray Davies spends most evenings wishing he’d written it – while Bowie’s pleading vocal on Sell Me A Coat is among the most dramatic and poignant of his long career.
Sadly for Bowie, the album proved to be a one-off and within a few years he’d traded the subtle witticism of his early stuff for the fun, but rather obvious Mick Ronson powered glam rock riffs. And while he did knock out of a few good tunes later in his career, Heroes, Boys Keep Swinging and Oh You Pretty Things (Peter Noone version obviously), little compares to this album, his early Pye 45s and of course the non-album cut The London Boys. Not just a brilliant evocation of swinging Soho from 1967, but also a tune that lent its name to one of the ’80s top notch disco bands. It doesn’t get much better than that.
David Bowie – David Bowie (1967) Deram