David Bowie got me the cane. In 1973 I proudly walked into my Catholic Secondary School holding my copy of Bowie’s album, Aladdin Sane underneath my arm.
When the Deputy Headmaster asked what I had and then saw the inner sleeve in which Bowie proudly poses half naked with make up daubed across his face, my fate was sealed.
Four strokes I was given.
I am a child of the 70s, the decade David Bowie made his own. In 1972, he hit the ground running as Ziggy Stardust, changed into Aladdin Sane in 1973, became a Diamond Dog in 1974, made two cracking soul funk albums in 75 and 76, and then changed course again to issue his famed trilogy of experimental albums – Low, Heroes and The Lodger. He then entered the ‘80s with a number one single called Ashes To Ashes.
I knew much about Bowie before writing the Album By Album but four albums in particular forcibly struck me. His debut album David Bowie was cut in 1967 in a London high on LSD and dancing to Sgt. Pepper’s. The album is full of music hall songs sung like Anthony Bewley. Diamond Dogs revealed itself to be breathtaking in its scope, recorded in a state of exhaustion by Bowie, and rejected by the likes of me at the time, ’Cos it ain’t as good as Aladdin or Ziggy.’ How wrong was I.
It is a remarkable album. So is Outside his 1995 album which brims with inspiration and information, brims with a desire to attack boundaries and ill conceived opinions as to his artistic worth. And then there was the Buddha Of Surburbia album which changed colour and tack with each song, and contains one of his greatest songs in Strangers When We Meet.
I loved writing this book, immersing myself in Bowie’s music which always delivered more than it took away. It was great to hook up and have on my side, Bowie’s Boswell, Kevin Cann, the man who can not only tell you where Bowie was on any given day, but more importantly can tell you why Bowie was doing what he was doing.
And as for the effect of that caning? It made me love him even more. And so did writing this book.
Watch Paolo discussing Bowie: Album by Album below
Paolo’s Casual Bowie Top Ten
Lady Grinning Soul
Word On A Wing
Station To Station
Strangers When We meet
Listen to Paolo’s Casual Bowie Top Ten through Spotify here.
Follow Paolo on twitter @PaoloHewitt1