November 20, 2013

The Bowie Project: Aladdin Sane (1973)

This review is probably going to be a fair bit shorter than some previous ones. Whereas with the last couple of albums I’ve been really enjoying them, and highly reluctant to move on to the next, with this one I can’t get rid of it quickly enough.

DavisBowieAladdinSaneThe first problem is that I’ve never really been a bit fan of the Rolling Stones. Watch That Man and a few others just sound like very typical Rolling Stones songs, and don’t really do anything for me at all. I was interested to hear Let’s Spend The Night Together – Bowie’s version is more energetic, dare I say it a little bit punkier?

There’s also a lot of artsy wank on this album that seems to exist purely for the purpose of investigating its own navel by route of Bowie’s backside. Time mostly falls into this category – it’s got some nice descending chords in the chorus, but the problem with listening to the albums back to back is that I’m noticing that Bowie’s used this trick a few times before, and there’s nothing to cushion the unoriginality.

I very much like Cracked Actor – ludicrously enough, it’s like something by Queens of the Stone Age and the chorus sounds like Foo Fighters. I did not expect to find something fitting that description on a Bowie album from the 70s!

I also quite like Drive-In Saturday and The Prettiest Star – they’ve got a doo-wop thing going on that reminds me of one of my favourite songs that I’ve personally written. I’m aware of how narcissistic it is to basically say “I don’t like most of these songs because they aren’t as good as mine” but that’s not the case. It’s more the case that I’m finding this album doesn’t really grab me in any way, it’s mostly just glancing off of the surface of my eardrum, and the only songs that are penetrating through are the ones that have something to hook into my attention.

This makes me wonder if the issue here is not in the album, but in the listener. Maybe I’m in a different mindset now than I was two weeks ago, which is affecting the way that I’m receiving the album, and subsequently judging it by different standards.

I’d like to finish by mentioning Jean Genie, which makes me feel like a rock god by dint of just how terrible the bass playing is. Trevor Bolder is the credited bassist, and he’s clearly not a bad bass player, but I get the impression that he was hearing the song for the first time. There are three clear occasions where he just completely loses track of what he’s supposed to be doing. They are at 00:36, 03:07 and 03:54.

Final track, Lady Grinning Soul sounds like a Bond theme. Make of that what you will.

Hits from this album: Jean Genie is surely the most well-known

My favourite song from this album: Hard to choose, nothing really stands out in this department. I’m going to plump for Cracked Actor.

Next up: Pin Ups which is an album full of cover versions.


2 thoughts on “The Bowie Project: Aladdin Sane (1973)

  1. loving this series, btw Pete. This one has some corkers on it, but it’s not a patch on the previous two, fo sho.

  2. i’m jealous of anyone discovering these albums for the first time – Alladin Sane is one of my favourites, purely for the fact that most of it sounds like it was recorded next week (esp Cracked Actor like you said).

    ABSOLUTE fave is ‘Station to Station’, an album which Dame David can’t even remember recording – i think he was living on a diet of Peppers, Milk and cocaine – but there is gold on all these albums! (discounting 90s drum and bass experiments)

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