Thursday, 9 June 2011

Reasons why I love David Bowie #485

On his mammoth 1974 tour to promote the album Diamond Dogs, David Bowie began the first leg with the usual Glam theatrics he was dealing in at the time (an over-the-top re-creation of 'Hunger City', the setting of the Diamond Dogs album; a cherry-picker he sat on which went over the crowd; singing into a telephone etc.) However, by the time the second leg kicked off in LA, Bowie had acted on his nascent obsession with Philadelphia soul music by transforming the show into more of a soul revue, stripping away any pretence and often featuring a stark white backdrop in front of which he almost carried out a one man show.

Changing the whole set and feel of a tour halfway through is pretty radical and something promoters of acts as big as Bowie (if there are any) simply wouldn't stand for today. The fact that many American concert-goers were expecting one thing but were given something completely different demonstrates Bowie's relentless imperative to act upon whatever took his fancy at the time. Also he managed to complete the tour on a diet of red peppers, milk and, most importantly, cocaine. What an engine.

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Magic of Rogers, Edwards and Thompson

Stepping into the studio to follow up her self-titled 1983 debut, Madonna sought the help of Chic bandleader Nile Rodgers to propel her career to the stratospheric heights her psychotic (never mind blonde) ambition demanded.

Rodgers called upon his Chic associates Bernard Edwards (bass) and Tony Thompson (drums) to help create Like a Virgin (1984), an album which my mind instantly jumps to when thinking about what a great pop record should be.

An all-time favourite of mine, and one which appears on the album, is Material Girl, a track which demonstrates Rodgers, Edwards and Thompson as the impossibly water-tight rhythm section they were.

It's tacky, it's gimmicky, it's pure bubblegum and for these very reasons it's a damn fine single.

What's always impressed me with this song, however, is Tony Thompson's drumming. Rock solid for the verses, his snappy flourishes before the chorus puts one foot of this song in territory clearly marked 'Rock'.

Does it get more perfect than this?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Wake Up: A new found appreciation of Arcade Fire

For a long time now I've tried my hardest to resist Canadian band Arcade Fire. I'm a stubborn bastard and their perceived infallibility mixed with the hysterical popularity they garner plays right into my hands. Hands that love to play devil's advocate.

But the devil will find work for idle hands to do and on being given all three of the band's studio albums to borrow I've found myself succumbing to their indefineable magic.

It's the passion. In an age which is one huge, non-committal shrug of the shoulders, Arcade Fire have a startling intensity about their music. It's rousing, it's enervating, it makes so many other mainstream acts sound like dilly-dallying time-wasters. You can hear that they mean every measure of tape they lay down and are no strangers to some good old-fashioned hard work.

There's not much more I can say, really, because I don't think they deserve to be ham-fistedly dissected by me. However, a current favourite is Intervention from 2007s Neon Bible. If this doesn't stir you, nothing will.

Now to try and like Animal Collective...