So on Friday, over at his fabulous Burning Wood blog, our good friend Sal Nunziato posted a link where you can download the original records redone by David Bowie on his album of 60s covers Pin Ups.
The records in question? All fabulous, but if you don't recall them off the top of your head they are:
Rosalyn- The Pretty Things
Here Comes The Night - Them
I Wish You Would- The Yardbirds
See Emily Play- Pink Floyd
Everything's All Right- The Mojos
I Can't Explain- The Who
Friday On My Mind- The Easybeats
Sorrow- The Merseys
Don't Bring Me Down- The Pretty Things
Shapes Of Things- The Yardbirds
Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere- The Who
Where Have All The Good Times Gone- The Kinks
Get thee over there right now and download the ZIP file -- you'll be glad you did.
Of course, I bring all this up not strictly out of altruism; long-time readers -- and Sal, who obviously disagrees -- are aware that I consider David Bowie to exist somewhere on a continuum between Most Overrated Figure in Rock History and Satanic Hellspawn Whose Entire Career is a Harbinger of the End Times.
You'll hardly be surprised, then, to learn that I consider Pin Ups to be not only one of the Three All-Time Worst Albums of Rock Covers Ever Made, but also to be among the worst sets of interpretations of any kind of music in the history of recorded sound.
Okay, that last may be an overstatement, but I stand by the Three Worst Covers album thing.
In case you're wondering, the other two are Bryan Ferry's 1973 These Foolish Things and Duran Duran's 1995 Thank You.
The former, I think, is an utterly appaling concept record in which Ferry, nitwit that he is, advances the concept that Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" has something in common artistically with Lesley Gore's "It's My Party" other than the fact that both were originally recorded by sentient mammals.
The latter, on the other hand, is merely a sloppy mess in which one of the world's most useless bands pays tribute to its non-roots and tries, unsuccessfully, to convince the world that Simon Le Bon has any business performing a Public Enemy song.
Pin Ups, however, I think is exponentially worse. At the time it came out, somebody who hadn't yet heard it (Lester Bangs, actually, who quoted me without attribution in his subsequent review) asked what it sounded like and I replied "Like twelve versions of 'Let's Spend the Night Together' on Aladdin Sane." (At the time, of course, Bowie's "Let's Spend the Night Together" was generally conceded to be the single lamest version of a Stones song evah).
What I would have added, time permitting, is that the entire attitude that Pin Ups exudes (reeks of, might be a more accurate phrase) is a Look at Me I'm Wonderful contempt for the material. The album, IMHO, is the work of a guy who's convinced that these silly little songs and the people who recorded them are ever so trivial and ridiculous, so thank god that he -- The Greatest Star -- is deigning to give them a little undeserved, reflected, acclaim in his trademark bullshit campy ironic way.
Not to mention that the singing is flatout awful; the affectless, emotionless, pretentious pseudo-operatic croon Bowie subjects the songs to is light years removed from the punkish snarl and passion that most of them (with the possible exception of The Mersey's "Sorrow") require.
Have I mentioned that I hate the goddamn album?
Oh well. Your favorite band sucks, and all that stuff, and I understand that where I hear dripping condescension, other reasonable people hear affectionate homage. In the meantime, here's the wonderful original version of the aforementioned "Sorrow."
You tell me if Bowie did it justice or not.