herald

Monday 25 September 2017

ever-changing bowie gets ready for his bus pass

Sixty-five years -- what a surprise! Sorry for paraphrasing one of the key lines from Five Years, but who'd have thought that David Bowie would reach the age were he's entitled to a bus pass?

Over Christmas I was gripped by The Man Who Sold the World by Peter Doggett. Subtitled 'David Bowie and the 1970s', this fantastic book goes through Bowie's output, track by track.

Reading the book was accompanied by delving into the Bowie back catalogue. The run from the proto-metal of The Man Who Sold the World through to the elaborate art-pop of Hunky Dory and the glam genius of Ziggy and Aladdin Sane would have been enough for most people, but not our David.

Having delved into apocalyptic sci-fi (Diamond Dogs) and his formative influences (Pin-Ups) he skedaddled off to the States for a foray into plastic soul (Young Americans) and brought a Germanic, motorik funk to his music (Station to Station). Then things got really interesting.

Having all but fried his brain on cocaine while in LA he decided the best way to clean up was to head to Europe -- France first and then Berlin -- in the company of drug-addled wreck Iggy Pop. In a two-year period Bowie changed tack with the electronic experimentation of Low, Heroes and Lodger and helped Iggy resurrect his career with The Idiot and Lust for Life. Not bad for a pair of wrecks.

If ever a decade belonged to a single artist then that one was firmly in his pocket. Have a great birthday on Sunday, David.

>GEORGE BYRNE

The Man Who Sold the World by Peter Doggett is published by Bodley Head. There's a Bowie tribute night in the Grand Social on January 14

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