Monday, January 11, 2016
David Bowie - Diamond Dogs (1974)
((Sorry if commercials, ugh! WTF?) I keep thinking and thinking about David Bowie. I can't stop. I wasn't able to stop before his death. When I would get into a Bowie period, that is all I wanted to listen to over and over again. I would play albums until I had to put them away. My favorite Bowie period of the 1970's, the one I 'identify' with for whatever reason is generally considered 'transitional', but I find maximally Decadent Bowie, 1974-1976: Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Station To Station. The ripe stench of glam's almost-corpse fallen into a dystopian nightmare, a slick soul/disco platter with a seething, restless void at its center, and the apex of dark-mirror cocaine mysticism & hollowed-out melodrama. This is what I return to over and over. Diamond Dogs is, like its album cover, a mutant Ziggy-becoming-feral-dog-pack in a strange new world of radioactive NYC, post-apocalyptic politics, the truly chilling way in which tyranny will survive the death of the world, but also the survival of rebellion, of resistance and glamour, of rock & roll. Bowie himself played lead guitar on this album, bringing a real enthusiasm for noise, for the 'wrong' approach, for what rock & roll guitar would sound like if reinvented from the wasteland. This album famously started life as a concept album based upon 1984, but I like it better that it couldn't be. It is weirder and more prophetic to consider that even the fall of this civilization will not allow freedom, but a recoagulation of warlordism, brute force cults of personality, enforced thought/action orthodoxies via state/priesthood machines, etc. The only sane response to this, to living in the rotting carcass of a collapsed monolith as the already-dead, is decadent rebellion, the 'misuse' of resources, frivolity, waste, assertion of aesthetic priorities against state propaganda. Of course, all of this sounds like 1974, but like an alien, impossibly removed 1974, as if looked at from the chilly vasts of space. I will also say that this album feels special to me also because it came out in the year of my birth, and we share a twin genesis of sorts. This is the Bowie that was when I was incarnating for this time, and he was already becoming something else, as always and forever. On 5 December, 1974, at the end of the 1974 Diamond Dogs tour, David Bowie appeared on The Dick Cavett Show to play Diamond Dogs & Young Americans material, and he was clearly more in YA territory, having fully kitted out the funk/soul aspects of '1984' and asking Dick Cavett's audience if they remembered President Nixon. His brown suit/plaid tie combo is awesome. This is how I wanted to dress in the 1990's, at least part of the time. The sound quality on this clip is not the best, and most of this material can be seen in somewhat higher quality in excerpted videos, but I wanted to put the whole of Bowie's appearance up as it is the becoming that I am noticing most, even as fully Bowie as ever.