måndag 28 februari 2022

David Bowie - Diamond dogs (1974)

Bowie had a few themes he often returned to such as the outsider alien, mortality and insanity. In 1974 he took it one step further and released a concept album - "Diamond dogs". Recorded less than a year after Pink Floyd's masterpiece "The dark side of the moon" it is not hard to imagine that he might have been influenced by Floyd.

Bowie was at the time interested in doing a musical piece on George Orwell's novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" but he was denied the rights by Orwell's widow. Instead "Diamond dogs" became a story in a dystopian post-apocalyptic setting loosely based on "Nineteen Eighty-Four" as well as the writings of  William S. Burroughs.

 I like to listen to the album as a self contained unit, from start to finish. It holds fewer songs that pop up as stand alone pieces. Instead there are two powerful musical suites. The obvious is on side A with "Sweet thing"/"Candidate"/"Sweet thing (Reprise)". The second is the whole side B except for the first song: "We are the dead"/"1984"/"Big brother"/"Chant of the ever circling skeletal family".

The "Sweet thing" suite is presented as one long song on the 2008 release "iSelect", a rare best of album curated by David himself .

The album is to me the bridge between his glam rock days to the soul music of "Young Americans" and the lurking Thin White Duke in the shadows. The powerful ballad "Rock 'n' roll with me" could have easily found a place on "Young Americans". 

The intro with the short "Future legend" mimics many conceptual albums. After the ouverture the album launches into the first of two rockers on the first side. "Diamond dogs" and "Rebel rebel" are up-tempo rockers and the latter is still a fan favourite at live shows. They are great as rockers, but to me I do like the more complex and slower songs on the album as much if not more. 

Deep in the suite on the second side we find the song "1984". I guess Orwell's wife couldn't stop David to call his song a general number! It is crazy! Just like a theme song to a cheezy seventies tv show about bandits and detectives.

So how good is it? Everything is super subjective of course, but to me it's a step down from the terrific "Aladdin sane" from the year before. This album feels better produced but the best songs don't stand out to me as much.

My rating: 7/10

Side A:
1.    Future legend 2.    Diamond dogs 3.    Sweet thing 4.    Candidate 5.    Sweet thing (Reprise) 6.    Rebel rebel

Side B:
1.     Rock 'n' roll with me
2.    We are the dead
3.    1984 4.    Big brother 5.    Chant of the ever circling skeletal family

Best songs: "Rock 'n' roll with me", the "Sweet thing" suite, "Rebel rebel"

Produced by: David Bowie (in collaboration with Tony Visconti)

Released: May 24th, 1974

Media: 2016 remaster 180 gram vinyl, reissued in 2016 as part of the "Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976)" box.


The "Rebel rebel" smash hit single, a sample of the mystery of "Diamonds dogs".

"Sweet thing" live in 1974, a sample of the mystery of "Diamonds dogs".

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