Monday, March 10, 2008

David Bowie - Alabama Song

(RCA, 1980)

It’s surprises a-plenty on this post-Lodger, pre-Scary Monsters standalone 45. Surprise #1: Bowie takes a stab at “Alabama Song.” Unlike the Doors’ retrospectively self-parodic drunken circus version, Bowie’s hurtles forward with schizophrenic changes in tempo and mood, the general air being one of terror and disgust as he lurches his way through the song. Alternately jagged, swirling, and smooth, it’d be nightmarish if it wasn’t so dang campy in the self-aware, self-mocking posturing of the vocals. An extremely entertaining listen, and an admirable middle finger as a non-album single. Surprise #2: Bowie re-records “Space Oddity” on the B-side. Surprise #3: It’s fantastic! He sounds tired and beaten on here, emphasizing the heavy sadness of the lyrics, and the stark arrangement (acoustic guitar, bass, simple piano, minimal drums) lends a weight to the musical accompaniment that wasn’t present in the original. Blasphemous to say, perhaps, but this might actually be better than the familiar hit version. GASP. And as if all that wasn’t enough, as an extra-special bonus for all you freaky kids out there the sleeve folds out into a four-panel poster of our hero Davey looking weirdly fascistic!

1 comment:

Donald Brown said...

"This ain't rock'n'roll -- this is genocide!"