January 13, 2009

Mod-A-Day: David Bowie

David Bowie is a performance artist. Though one who's musicianship is at the forefront as opposed to any other aspect of his talents. And talents he has aplenty. He went to music school as a kid and learned numerous instruments, practiced at being a buddhist monk for a while, studied to be a mime (had his own troupe for a while), and of course has had 40+ sucessful years in the music biz. Early on though Bowie was an R&B lovin' mod. He had several mod bands in the early to mid sixties, The King Bees, The Manish Boys, and The Lower Third.

This track is from the first and only single by The Manish Boys, and is the first composition of Bowie's own to be recorded. It's a jazzy blues based piece that was likely influenced by Georgie Fame and Manfred Mann. Compared to other things he did just a few years later as a solo artist, this is by far superior. A lot of the late 60s stuff that people applaud Bowie for seems clownish to me -- more performance art than music and certainly not representative of what mod music was at the time. The whole Rubber Band era stuff just grates on my nerves whenever I hear it; things like the riduclous Laughing Gnome and We Are Hungry Men, and the much lauded (really people?) but dirgish London Boys would have been better to have never been recorded. (Interesting ideas and lyrics throughout, but the music is simply sick.) But, the earlier, bluesier, soulful Bowie, now that's some good music.

David Bowie -- Take My Tip