Monday, October 23, 2017


Marc Bolan & T. Rex 40th Anniversary Concert

City Winery, New York City

October 22, 2017

By Madeline Bocaro

Whenever I play a T. Rex song, I get sucked into Marc Bolan's shiny little world filled with unicorns and wizards, Cadillacs and glitter, and I refuse to leave for months. No other music is important for a while, and no other world feels more like home.

Marc had a halo – a shining light that he emitted which followed him everywhere. Some say he was self-absorbed and pompous but they are just jealous. He disappeared so suddenly, a cruel death at the height of his beauty at age 29 in 1977 (Marc and Elvis Presley died within a month of each other) at the onslaught of Punk Rock which he embraced, and whose denizens worshipped him.

Marc colored our dreary lives, along with his dear friend David Bowie. Although they are both now departed, they have never really left us in spirit, nor in song.

40 years after Marc's passing, and on his 70th birthday, New York City celebrated Bolan's life and the music of T. Rex and Tyrannosaurus Rex. Light all the fires – it's the king, and he's coming home! Hostesses applied glitter to our cheeks. Manic Panic supplied free iridescent nail polish. A merchandise table raised funds for the Marc Bolan School of Music in Sierra Leone, run by his partner Gloria Jones. Their son Rolan Bolan performed two of his dad's songs.

This is one of the annual events hosted & curated by singer-songwriters Joe Hurley and Edward Rogers. The previous NYC tribute was in Central Park in 2007. These magical shows feature a cavalcade of T. Rex lovers; from Broadway stars to legendary songwriters to R&R Hall of Famers to NYC icons who travel from all corners of the world to participate.

The show featured Blondie's Clem Burke on drums - all night long! It doesn't get any better than that! Our bassist was Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith), on guitar Steve Conte (NY Dolls), backup singers Tish & Snooky of the hair/makeup brand Manic Panic and creators of Crazy Color hair products. (My favorite shades in the 70s were the purples - Aubergine and Cyclamen!) There was percussion and a string section of violin and cello. Also, the gigantic shiny skronking sax of Geoff Blythe (Dexys/Elvis Costello), AND a real treat - original Electric Warrior sax player Ian McDonald on 'Get It On'!!! Ian's sax had a dull patina illustrating its legendary status!

The singers were well matched to Bolan's songs. The evening began with Screaming Orphans' gorgeous choral version of 'Children of Rarn'. Suzanne Vega portrayed 'Life's A Gas' as both a happy song and a sad one, as it is really both. Ivan Julian's 'Ballrooms of Mars' blew us away – his soloing was the best of the night!

Most touching was Angela McCluskey's minor-key version of the most beautiful 'Dove' (about yearning for a loved one – whom we are now missing so much). Angela incorporated a verse from 'Wild is the Wind'. We could picture Marc walking in during the gorgeous line, "See how the sun shines like an arc, where you walk."

Marc's son Rolan shone on 'Cosmic Dancer' and on 'Chrome Sitar'! The femme fatales of Bolan's songs were represented, the legendary 'Debora', and John's Children's 'Desdemona'. Joe Hurley and Ed Rogers kept everyone abreast of each song's history and told amusing anecdotes between acts.

The fabulous Daphne Guinness (with Malcolm Doherty (Holy Holy) performed a rousing 'Rabbit Fighter'! Ellen Foley's (Meatloaf) powerful vocals graced 'Solid Gold Easy Action'.  The Alice Cooper Group's Dennis Dunaway rocked out 'Rock On' on both bass and vocals.

A teen called Automatic Shoes did a beautiful acoustic 'Planet Queen'. He was discovered via his several ethereal Marc covers on YouTube and flew in from Spokane, Washington.

More of Bolan's masterpieces performed were; 'Girl', 'By the Light of the Magical Moon', 'Rip Off', 'Jeepster', 'Ride a White Swan', 'Metal Guru', 'Rapids', 'London Boys', 'Children of the Revolution', '20th Century Boy' and 'Buick Mackane'. I sobbed during 'The Slider' ('cos when I'm sad, I slide) but everyone else carried on having a good time.

The almost 3-hour long concert ended with the entire cast onstage jamming 'Hot Love'. Then everyone jammed further at the Roxy Hotel after midnight, and we were all invited. I still haven't washed the glitter off my face! And they're doing it all again tonight!

This was the best Bolan tribute I've attended since the one in Central Park in 2007 (featuring Tony Visconti, Patti Smith, Moby, NY Dolls & Scissor Sisters) at the Delacorte theater - the lovely outdoor venue where Shakespearean events are often held. I could almost see Marc in the window of the uppermost turret, glancing down with a wink. When I get to heaven, I'm going to visit Marc's castle. I'll bring along John Lennon to sing 'Spaceball Ricochet', Johnny Thunders on 'Baby Strange', Mick Ronson can sprinkle his angel dust on the 'Monolith' solo, and the Ramones can rock out 'Debora'. I don't know if this is Marc's idea of heaven, but it most certainly is mine!

Friday, October 20, 2017


By Madeline Bocaro

This year (2017), we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sparks' seventh album, ironically titled Introducing Sparks.
Although the sound of Introducing was unusually traditional for Sparks, they still remained true to form. The slick production was incongruent with the rise of disco (which the Maels would soon tackle in their own weird way on their next album, No. 1 In Heaven) and completely unrelated to the scathing rage of Punk in England and in New York City. So once again - as tame as Introducing sounded – Sparks were producing the antithesis of what everyone else was doing at the time. 
In 1977, after recording Big Beat with producer Rupert Holmes for Columbia Records in America, Sparks stayed with the label for one more album. Introducing carried over the traditional rock sound of their previous album, Big Beat
After living in London for many years when Sparks were highly successful in Europe, Ron and Russell were again based in their native California. Their admiration of the Beach Boys was highly evident. Introducing features session men with a slick and polished sound. The album was recorded at Larrabee Sound in Los Angeles. Ron had a hand in the arrangements, but it sounds like he did not have complete control. The Maels were paradoxically criticized for sounding American when they are indeed American!  
The first pressings were released in November 1977. Promotional copies were pressed on red vinyl. The album did not chart. Two singles, 'Over The Summer' and 'A Big Surprise' (both with 'Forever Young' as their B-sides) also did not get much airplay.
The Cover

A side for each brother. Russell is technically on the front (although he is sideways, as the spine is at the bottom of the photo and the opening on top). Was there a subliminal message behind the ruby rings?
"We liked the idea of there actually being no front or back cover, that they were in fact the same image but with a different one of us on each side. We thought it would look cool in shops that randomly, either Ron or myself would be the featured cover. The rings were only a detail that we felt helped better color-coordinate us with our shirts. There's your symbolism theory shattered."
 – Russell Mael, Sparks Official International Fan Club
The portraits were by photographer Bob Seidemann, who also shot the infamous and controversial Blind Faith album cover (August, 1969). That cover featured a topless pubescent girl holding a silver space ship. The image, titled 'Blind Faith' by Seidemann, inspired the name of the band. It was decided to not print the name of the band on the cover, but only on the wrapper. When the wrapper came off, so did the type. This was done previously for The Rolling Stones' 1964 debut album, the Beatles' albums Rubber Soul in 1965 and Revolver in 1966, and Traffic's 1968 debut album. Sparks employed this idea of obscurity on their 1974 albums Kimono My House and Propaganda.
The Songs

'A Big Surprise' begins with a Ronnettes 'Baby I Love You' style intro. It's a very atypical 'boy meets girl' song for Sparks – containing those actual words in the lyrics. 'Occupation' is an ode to the working man. The song really comes alive with Russell wearing a variety of job uniforms in the promotional video. If you can envision each one while listening, the song is even better! 
'Ladies' begins with a beautiful vocal harmonic. The song includes a litany of heroines in the singer's living room. He hides the ladies when his mom comes home, and they all mysteriously disappear when his friends come over. The best couplet here is, 'Eva Braun is cracking jokes / While Joan of Arc just sits and smokes".  With its stomping beat, 'I'm Not' takes the opposite approach to Ron's usual autobiographical songwriting, listing the things he is not, or things that he is not doing; shaving, working, getting dressed, eating lunch - and he's not missing much! Russell's punchy, almost shouting vocal with a slight echo is really cool!
The bubbly and triumphant 'Forever Young' is the ultimate in defiance. "I'll sit and watch the history books get thicker".  'Goofing Off' conjures memories of a Bar Mitzvah, with a poignant violin intro worthy of Itzhak Pearlman punctuating the happy traditional dance. The song includes a searing guitar solo. This seemingly ethnic klezmer tune is simply a celebration of the weekend. ("Two days to try to forget a week of crap and crud".) After all the partying, the protagonist is dragged in to work and 'propped up in a chair' – just as he was at his Bar Mitzvah!
'Girls on the Brain' is a twisted bluesy standpoint about a debilitating ailment of the same name. On 'Over The Summer' in the light of lush background harmonies, Russell's plain girlfriend literally becomes hotter by summer's end. It is truly steeped in homage to the Beach Boys.
'Those Mysteries' is a song spent in wonderment. "I don't even know what I don't even know." Russell shines on this beautiful ballad of bafflement as to everything that exists, and that which does not exist. The demo version (performed solely by Ron and Russell) includes four additional words to the final questions, omitted from the album version. "Why is there time? Why is there space? "Why is there wine?"
'Over The Summer' and 'A Big Surprise' were released as singles, with 'Forever Young' on both B-sides. 
21 x 21
When Sparks performed Introducing in live 2008 (during their 21 X 21 tour in Islington during which they performed all of their albums to date in their entirety), it was one of the most exciting concerts of the series. None of the songs had been previously performed live, and 'Goofing Off' was voted amongst the top songs requested by fans at the final show of the tour.
Introducing Sparks had been out of print for decades, as Columbia Records held the rights to the album. Although the entirety of Sparks catalog became available on CD, Introducing Sparks was the last to be released in the format, although bootlegs were available.
In November 2007, after several campaigns by Sparks fans for its release, Introducing Sparks was officially released on CD via Sparks' own label, Lil' Beethoven Records. The CD was not remastered from the original studio master tapes (owned by Sony and held in their vaults) but from vinyl. On a later release in Japan on SHM-CD (high end CD format), the same vinyl remaster was used.
Introducing was part of a Japanese CD re-release series of six Sparks albums (Imperial Records, 2009) including the outtakes, 'Kidnap', 'Keep Me', 'Breathe' and 'Fact or Fiction'. It also includes a demo of 'Those Mysteries'. 
The booklet includes Russell's written descriptions of the bonus tracks:
'Kidnap' – "Sung by the young victim of a botched kidnapping where the wrong boy is grabbed. The kidnappers appeal to the President of the United States to have all of America contribute a little something to fulfill the ransom demands. Once released and now seeing how pro table this scheme can be, the young boy annually teams up with the kidnappers pulling off the same scam and this time splitting the profits."

'Breathe' (unreleased demo) - "A song proclaiming the importance of keeping one's lungs in good working condition."

'Fact Or Fiction' - (unreleased demo): Sets the record straight on some of the world's most misunderstood thoughts and conceptions. Note: at that time we gave the demo to Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick as a tune for the band to cover. They didn't, but it's apparently remained a staple on their touring bus entertainment system."
In 2014, a fan discovered a quadrophonic master tape of Introducing Sparks, with an early mix of eight songs. The tape also included the outtakes 'Kidnap' and 'Keep Me'. All had countdown intros and cold stops instead of fade-outs. 
There was no live tour for Introducing Sparks. Nor was there a tour for the next Sparks album, which switched gears in a big way. In 1978, the Mael brothers teamed up with disco diva Donna Summer's producer Georgio Moroder for No. 1 in Heaven (released in March 1979), taking things to a whole new level. Sparks spawned the pop duo and an entirely new age of music. In fact, the album was so far ahead of its time that Ron said, "The downside was that just because of the nature of the technology, we were never able to do that album live until the mid-'90s because there was no way to bring a synthesizer the size of a building with you onto the stage."

Introducing Sparks
All songs written by Ron Mael & Russell Mael
All lyrics ©1977 Ackee Music, Inc. (ASCAP) 
Lead & Background Vocals: Russell Mael
Background Vocals: 
Recorded at Larrabee Sound, Los Angeles
Engineer: Lenny Roberts
Assistant Engineers: Betsy Banghart and Randy Tomanaga
Arranged by Al Capps and Ron Mael
Mastered at Allen Zentz
Management: John Hewlett
Licensed from Island Records Limited, London
Photography: Bob Seidemann
Design: John Kehe, Tom Steele

Friday, October 13, 2017


2017 Remaster (A New Career In A New Town)
By Madeline Bocaro

Waiting so long, I've been waiting so, waiting so long!
Now I look back in anger at almost 40 years of listening to this wonderful Bowie album buried in a murky mix! 

The lyrics that best describe the rejuvination of Lodger (1979) are "Uncage the colors / unfurl the flag!" Due to the limitations of Record Plant's equipment, neither Bowie nor his long-time producer Tony Visconti were happy with the final mix done in NYC. Thanks to Tony for salvaging this Bowie masterpiece! David had approved some of the remasters completed just prior to his passing. Of course there are naysayers who would rather hear the album in the manner that they are familiar with (crackle and pop?!) Don't listen to them Tony - you did a fine job! 

I only had a few songs from Lodger in my iPod, as it was never my favorite Bowie album. Now I can hear its splendor! The songs that benefit most are "Fantastic Voyage", "African Night Flight" "Red Sails" (the sax!), "Move On" (with its underlying backwards chorus of "All the Young Dudes") "Boys Keep Swinging" is stunning (with Alomar / Davis swapping their instruments, drums and guitar), as is "Look Back in Anger". 

AND we get to hear what a remix of Iggy Pop's album The Idiot might sound like, as the song "Red Money" uses the "Sister Midnight" track. Once again the standout here is the largeness  and punch of the drums. However, The Idiot probably benefits from a murkier mix because that entire magnificent album is dirge-like and haunting. But it would be interesting to hear nonetheless. It didn't happen on The Idiot's 40th anniversary this year, so it's doubtful that it will occur.

The beauty of Lodger lies mostly in the revelations of the brilliant Dennis Davis' stellar drumming - especially the super crisp cymbals. Visconti is now free from the limitations of vinyl, and can now turn up the glorious bottom end. Adrian Belew and Carlos Alomar's guitars shine. Bowie's (and Eno's) vocals also come to life, with some gorgeous warbling and endearing oddities of inflection (on DJ, copying David Byrne) and on the exotic songs with eastern modalities. 

We know that the new Bowie box set, A New Career In A New Town has certain problems.  This is why I have only listened to the Lodger portion of the set.  I suspect that the "too much low end" complaints - especially on the Low and Heroes albums - are probably unwarranted. Apparently there was no de-noising on any tracks in the box set for integrity. 

Now stop reading, and LISTEN to this wonderful album the way it should have always sounded - a planned accident. The Lodger has come home from the hinterland, but the trip is not over yet! Fa fa fa fa fa fa da da da da da!!!!!!!!   

Monday, September 25, 2017

BOWIE - “HEROES” – 40th Anniversary

By Madeline Bocaro




That was RCA's slogan for Bowie's "Heroes" album. The single, released 40 years ago (September 23, 1977) amidst a backdrop of punk rock and Disco peaked at No. 24 in Britain. It didn't even make the Top 100 in America. The week after Bowie's passing in January 2016, the song hit No. 12 in the UK.

Another RCA ad for the album was:

"Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming."

Tomorrow belonged to us.

Bowie's "Heroes" is one of the most poignant songs of all time. "Heroes" was written "In Berlin, by the wall" – a setting right out of a Lou Reed song. It was originally an instrumental. The title references the 1975 song "Hero" by the German band Neu. The song's motorik beat was pioneered by the drummer of another German band, Can (Jaki Liebezeit). Yet Bowie utilizes the beat as though he is playing the Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man". The result is dreamy, floating, whirring and ethereal.

The song is set in East Berlin, isolated behind the wall. At first David's sings quietly in a low key. He is dejected, suffocated by the wall, dreaming of rising above, of swimming away, of stealing time – 'just for one day.'

The album version starts with lines borrowed from the 17th century English nursery rhyme 'Lavender's Blue' which David sang live - including the 'dilly dillys' - as an introductory verse to 'Heroes.'

"I, I will be king

And you, you will be queen"

The edited single begins:

"I, I wish you could swim

Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim"

Mid-song as the music swells, there is an octave jump (an uplifting effect also used in another tune of escapism, "Over the Rainbow" which Bowie previously referenced in "Starman"). As the verses build, Bowie's voice becomes increasingly frantic, shouting, defiant, victorious!

"We can beat them forever and ever"

The song makes us feel sublime, fearless and triumphant - but 'Heroes' is really a heartbreaking love song. It is an unyielding yet impossible vow to be together with the person you love, amidst oppression, obstacles and the transience of love, of time and of place. This verse was inspired when David saw the Otto Mueller painting hanging in Die Brücke Museum, Liebespaar Zwischen Gartenmauern (Lovers Between Garden Walls), as well as when he saw producer Tony Visconti illicitly kissing a woman at the wall outside the studio window.

"I, I can remember

Standing by the wall

The guns shot above our heads

And we kissed as though nothing could fall"

Then, due to his unfulfilled yearning, our spirited singer is consumed by self-doubt. He revisits mortality, bleak reality and endless oppression in the last verse. His infinite timeline of 'forever and ever' is conceded to 'just for one day'.

"We're nothing, and nothing will help us

Maybe we're lying, then you better not stay

But we could be safer, just for one day."

The defeating line 'we can be us' suggest that as lovers or as a people, we remain puppets of war, of governments and victims of our own making, despite our delusions of grandeur.

A stunning black and white Sukita photograph of Bowie in a pose inspired by the paintings of Egon Schiele grace the now iconic cover, with the album title in quotation marks, deflating the word "Heroes".

With Brian Eno's EMS synthesizer and his Oblique Strategies for guidance, the dazzling warped guitar wails of Robert Fripp's guitar and incredible production tricks by Tony Visconti, 'Heroes' is a unique song (and album) even by Bowie standards. The rest of the band were Dennis Davis, Carlos Alomar and George Murray (the D.A.M. Trio who also graced Bowie's albums Station To Station and Low).

Thirty years ago in the June 1987, Bowie played as part of the "Concert for Berlin," a three-day open-air festival staged in front of the burned Reichstag building. The stage was right in front of the Berlin Wall. Bowie acknowledged the thousands of young East Berliners behind the Wall, who were brutalized by police while listening to the ‘decadent’ rock concert in the west. When he performed the song “Heroes”, he was in tears. Two years later, both the Communist GDR and the Wall would be history. At the time of Bowie’s passing in 2016, the German Foreign Office tweeted: ‘Thank you for helping to bring down the wall.’

I’ll never forget that. It was one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever done. I was in tears. They’d backed up the stage to the wall itself so that the wall was acting as our backdrop. We kind of heard that a few of the East Berliners might actually get the chance to hear the thing, but we didn’t realize in what numbers they would. And there were thousands on the other side that had come close to the wall. So it was like a double concert where the wall was the division. And we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side. God, even now I get choked up. It was breaking my heart. I’d never done anything like that in my life, and I guess I never will again. When we did “Heroes” it really felt anthemic, almost like a prayer. However well we do it these days, it’s almost like walking through it compared to that night, because it meant so much more. However well we do it these days, it’s almost like walking through it compared to that night, because it meant so much more. That’s the town where it was written, and that’s the particular situation that it was written about. It was jus extraordinary. I was so drained after the show. It was so wonderful. 

We did it in Berlin last year as well and there’s no other city I can do that song in now that comes close to how it’s received. This time, what was so fantastic is that the audience – it was the Max Schmeling Halle, which holds about ten to fifteen thousand - half the audience had been in East Berlin that time way before. So now I was face to face with the people I had been singing it to all those years ago. And we were all singing it together. Again, it was powerful. Things like that really give you a sense of what performance can do. – Bowie Sept. 2003 - NYC (to Bill DeMain)

“Heroes” live in Berlin 1987

(And about the dolphins…)

"…The tattoo on the back of my leg was done in Japan (1991), as a confirmation of the love I feel for my wife and my knowledge of the power of life itself…but it does have a dolphin and a Japanese variation of the Serenity prayer among the content. I drew it myself and then had one of Japans tattooists ink it for me…The dolphin has always had a real significance for me. The dolphin reference came from a book I had read many, many years ago called 'A Grave For A Dolphin.' A young European traveler finds himself stranded in an African village situated near the sea. By day he befriends a dolphin, and at night, falls in love with a beautiful but elusive girl who, he presumes, comes from the village. In short, the girl disappears one night and the next morning he finds the dolphin has dragged itself across the sand and up to his hut to peacefully die.

I found the story so very beautiful that it stayed with me all of my life. Shortly after Iman and I met I was flabbergasted one day when she told me, " Hey, I've been sent a script for this beautiful story called 'A Grave For A Dolphin. They want me to play a native girl and they want you to play the European guy who falls in love with her.' I told her how much that book had meant to me and how it had partially inspired 'Heroes.' Where do they want to shoot it? I asked. ' Well, it looks like it'll be in the Seychelles, but if there hadn't been so much fighting they would have preferred the original location. The book, apparently all takes place on the coast of...Somalia. For one reason or another the film never got off the ground, but four or five years later I managed to track down a first edition and gave it to my love as a birthday present."

- David Bowie

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


40th Anniversary
by Madeline Bocaro
1977 brought us two Iggy albums within five months. How lucky are we?! Just one month after the release and live tour of The Idiot on March 18, 1977 recording began for Lust For Life at Hansa Studio by the Wall in West Berlin in April. Iggy's second solo post-Stooges album (also his second collaboration with David Bowie) was released on August 29.

The crooning cadaver who crawled out of the magnificent murkiness of The Idiot appears with a big goofy grin on the close-up cover portrait on his following album. On the cover of Lust For Life, Iggy Pop comically resembles his lyrical mentor Soupy Sales, who encouraged kids to keep their fan letters to a minimum of words. (Hence the Stooges anthem "no fun my babe no fun".) Coincidentally, the Sales brothers (Soupy's sons) Tony and Hunt appear on bass and drums. (They would later form the rhythm section of David Bowie's future band Tin Machine). Lust For Life also featured Ricky Gardiner and Carlos Alomar on guitar. The cover photo was by Andrew Kent, who had also shot the cover of The Idiot, and documented Bowie's Station to Station tour in stunning black and white.

Lust For Life was Iggy's second album on RCA Records. Bowie composed most of the music. The lyrics are pure Iggy, mostly improvised on the spot. Bowie's used this technique on his next album, "Heroes", released just two months later in October. Lust For Life was produced by Bowie, Iggy Pop and engineer Coin Thurston under the name 'Bewlay Bros.' (a song on Bowie's Hunky Dory album).

Despite the obvious fact that it is about liquor, drugs and sex, the title song has become incidental for so many ad campaigns that it's impossible to mention them all. This cheapens the magnificence of the song because it is the soundtrack of life - and especially of Iggy's life. The catchy riff was inspired while in Berlin, the Glammer Twins were listening to American Forces Network News, which had a Morse code call signal. This was interpreted by the drumbeat of brilliant Hunt Sales, with crashing cymbals. It resembles the riff of The Doors' song 'Touch Me'. The lyrics refer to an addicted character and phrases (Johnny Yen, 'the flesh machine' and 'hypnotizing chickens' in William Burroughs' 1961 and 1962 novels, The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded.

Lust For Life includes some sick little songs. In 'Sixteen' Iggy lusts for a young girl…

"I'm an easy mark with my broken heart 
Sweet 16…
I must be hungry 'cause I go crazy
Over your leather boots 
Now baby I know
That's not normal"

Two songs are heroin-themed. 'Turn Blue' was written with Bowie in 1975, and was originally titled 'Moving On'. The lyrics of this song are mysteriously missing from the album sleeve. At the end, it is deliberately unclear whether Iggy is shooting himself, or shooting heroin. 'Tonight' has a beautiful opening verse, which is omitted on Tina Turner's version with Bowie on his 1984 album also titled Tonight.

"I saw my baby she was turning blue
I knew that seen her young life was through
So I got down on my knees beside her bed
And these are the words to her I said
Everything will be alright tonight…"

Pop also quotes William Burroughs' Naked Lunch ("No one talks, no one reads, no one walks") in the chorus of 'Tonight'.

In 'Some Weird Sin' Iggy yearns for a 'license to live' in this upbeat song, as he stands at the world's edge. Amidst some cowbell and with Bowie's backing vocal, Iggy laments that 'things are 'too straight' and he 'can't bear it'. Though he yearns for a normal life, he instinctively prefers his own primal life of deprivation.

"I'm trying to break in
Oh, I know it's not for me
But the sight of it all
Makes me sad and ill
That's when I want
Some weird sin"

'The Passenger', with its amazing guitar groove by Ricky Gardner is a perfect driving song, inspired by travelling with David Bowie on his Station To Station tour. It was released as a B-side of the only single from the album, 'Success' on September 30. 'The Passenger' is lyrically based on an unnamed poem by Jim Morrison in his collective book The Lords and The New Creatures.

"…Modern life is a journey by car. The Passengers 
change terribly in their reeking seats, or roam 
from car to car, subject to unceasing transformation. 
Inevitable progress is made toward the beginning 
(there is no difference in terminals), as we 
slice through cities, whose ripped backsides present 
a moving picture of windows, signs, streets, 
buildings. Sometimes other vessels, closed 
worlds, vacuums, travel along beside to move 
ahead or fall utterly behind."

Bowie covered 'Neighborhood Threat' as well as two other Iggy songs on his 1984 album Tonight (along with the aforementioned song 'Tonight' with Tina Turner, and 'Don't Look Down' from Iggy's next album New Values). On 'Neighborhood Threat', Iggy is once again an outlaw.

"No, he don't share your pleasures
Did you see his eyes?
Did you see his crazy eyes?"

The totally fun 'Success' was Iggy's personal Declaration of Independence. With his friend Bowie's help, he was now his own man. He can taste success, while playfully mocking those who have become overwhelmed with material possessions. Iggy gets his Chinese rug in a litany of all the riches coming his way. At the end, Iggy is liberated, 'wigged', hopping like a frog and doing anything he wants. When his final ad-libbed lyric doesn't fit the measure, he playfully yells, "Oh shit!' which the Sales brothers repeat, in theme with the improvised call-and response theme of the song. This was the only single from the album, which did not chart.

'Fall In Love With Me' is an ode to Iggy's German girlfriend Esther Friedman. The band members swapped instruments for this long jam, edited for the album.

The album's highest chart positions in 1977 were No. 28 in the UK, and 120 on Billboard's charts. RCA label mate Elvis Presley's death derailed the label's attention from promoting Iggy's album when they focused on reissuing Elvis' back catalogue. 

Iggy's Lust For Life tour included seven shows in the USA (starting at Santa Monica Civic on November 18, and ending at New York City's Palladium on October 6, with the Ramones as opening act.) At the Palladium, the band was introduced onstage by Soupy Sales himself! Iggy came prancing out in patched jeans and white T-shirt, one black shoe and one white as he sang 'Sixteen', wearing a beautiful horse's tail! There were two dates in Canada, one at London's Rainbow theatre and one in Rotterdam.

In time, this legendary album by just a modern guy has earned a million in prizes! It was the last great collaboration between The Idiot and The Oddity until Iggy's eighth solo album Blah Blah Blah in 1986.

In 1978 RCA Records offered Iggy an easy way to deliver the third and final album of his contract. They paid him $90,000 to release a live album of soundboard tapes from three of his 1977 gigs (some featuring Bowie on keyboards, and on some, Scott Thurston). Iggy spent $5,000 re-mastering them and pocketed the rest. The album was titled TV Eye (1977 Live).

Saturday, August 05, 2017


LUST FOR LIFE tour October 6, 1977

By Madeline Bocaro

The lobby of New York City's Palladium was filled with punks. Ripped T-shirts, dog collars and chains, safety pins, plastic sunglasses from Woolworth's - you name it, they wore it. Halloween? Nope, too early. This was the night of Iggy Pop's New York concert appearance, and everyone was all decked out for the occasion! Most of us had recently seen Iggy here on March 18th at the start of The Idiot, tour with Bowie on keyboards, and Blondie as the opening act. How lucky are we to be seeing him again just seven months later!
Opening act – the Ramones. Those blitzkreig boppers kept everyone jumping on their seats. The Ramones did their usual short set, intro including 'Sheena is a Punk Rocker', which even made the charts! They did some new tunes; 'Rockaway Beach' and 'Here Today Gone Tomorrow' during which there was an outburst in the third row. Patti Smith was fighting off five ushers at once, punching and yelling until she finally climbed over our heads and into a front row seat.

Then came Iggy, prancing out in patched jeans and white T-shirt, one black shoe and one white one, and wearing a horse's tail as he sang 'Sixteen'.

Most songs were from his latest RCA album Lust For Life; 'The Passenger'. 'Some Weird Sin' (which he sang from inside a black bag lying on the floor), and 'Fall in Love With Me' sporting an army helmet and smashing a chair at the end.

Iggy also did 'Nightclubbing' from his previous LP The Idiot, only this time with a new twist. He sang it in German while climbing stacks of amplifiers. His voice was cold, alien - almost frozen.

We were treated to some Stooges songs. 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' was snarled out by Iggy who was on all fours, growling and howling his way into our hearts. A rendition of 'Raw Power' was inevitable. 'I Got a Right' was amazing (the only recording of which is a mono 45 made from James Williamson's tapes of the Raw Power album rehearsals). There was an encore of Bowie's 'Fame'.

The black leather-clad band (this time sans Bowie, and not suffering at all because of it) included Tony and Hunt Sales, sons of Soupy who introduced the band onstage! They served as a low-key backdrop for dominating Iggy, slavishly throwing himself around the stage, occasionally dropping to the floor exhausted – the Id foremost as he contorted his beautiful savage face into looks of lust, and at times vacancy.

Iggy seemed alone, exposed, giving his all as we stared at his naked torso – stunned as if each of us had received a slap in the face. His small frame seemed larger than life under the spotlights and in the shadows. His body rippled with perfectly formed muscles, sweat and scars from his days of vengeance. Through his movements both graceful and savage, it seemed as if he was trying to break out of his skin, into some nameless freedom.

What kind of people attend such an exhibition? Suckers for his affections/ his inflictions? Necrophiliacs? The type who peek through ambulance windows, or those who secretly pull the legs off spiders. The most gratification must have been felt by those who cut worms in half and watch them suffer and squirm. Iggy was doing the same – he was slimy, sweating, writhing and sprawling all over the stage. We left the hall pondering, 'I loved it – what's wrong with me?

There was not as much violence as in the days of the Stooges when acts of self-hate turned to self-abuse by Iggy. He would physically punish himself while the audience gasped in ambivalence, at first unaware and suddenly realizing own latent needs for punishment and masochism by watching Iggy act out for them.
Iggy's performance still runs along these lines, only now more restrained with indirect hints of violence. Still, Iggy is for real. He's more than slightly bent, without sense of self-preservation, having more animal instincts than human ones. He is unleashed on us and we love it, finding our lost strength and desires magnified in the bravado of this live wire – the sultan of destructo-exorcism.

The show was virtually the same two nights ago at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury CT. The audience were more calm than the manic New Yorkers. Nevertheless, everyone remained in the theater for at least fifteen minutes cheering for a second encore, which never came.

Iggy seemed more relaxed in CT, as if this were merely a rehearsal for the big night in NYC. Iggy feeds off the crowd in New York, making it much more than just a performance. Everyone is involved, and we all leave deep in thought, stunned and euphoric.

Thursday, August 03, 2017


by Madeline Bocaro

Mott The Hoople were extremely fond of their wildly passionate, loyal and steadfast fans, but their live gigs always outsold their four albums. The band was at a breaking point.

David Bowie gave Mott the song 'All The Young Dudes' after their bass player Overend Watts approached him for a job when Mott decided to disband in 1972. Bowie loved Mott and had seen their riotous live gigs. He first offered Watts the song 'Suffragette City'. Luckily, Mott rejected that song in favor of 'Dudes'. Bowie gave them the right song at the perfect time. 'Dudes' saved Mott from oblivion.

'All The Young Dudes' was recorded by Mott The Hoople in May and released on July 28, 1972. Bowie's lyrics name-check his trend-setting friends from the gay discotheque, Yours And Mine beneath El Sombrero restaurant on Kensington High Street. There's suicidal Billy, stealing Wendy, butch queen Lucy, the queen Jimmy and star-faced Freddie (Bowie's clothing designer Freddie Burretti – nee Burrett). These real life characters inspired Bowie to write the future Mott The Hoople hit. The song celebrates the 'juvenile delinquent wrecks' of the 70s who are unable to relate to their brothers' Beatles & Stones records, not wanting to live past 25, and stealing clothes from Marks & Sparks.

"We were the 'young dudes' who shaved off our eyebrows just for camp, because you could paint them on higher up — that gave us a strange unearthly look which David adopted. He was always open to suggestions and went through our wardrobes like a magpie!"
-       Wendy Kirby

'‘Dudes’ is actually a very sad song. One line depicts a sad teenage Pierrot-like figure at the end of a performance: "Freddie's got spots from picking off the stars from his face." The narrator carries news of cultural and urban despair and decay - the aftermath of Ziggy Stardust’s apocalyptic ‘Five Years’ and a prologue to the year of the Diamond Dogs, set in the dystopian Hunger City where ‘Dudes’ became ‘Droogs’. A 1974 lyric sheet for ‘Future Legend’, the opening pronouncement of Diamond Dogs, bears Bowie’s crossed-out title, ‘Fugue for the Dude’.

"'All the Young Dudes' is a song about this news. It's no hymn to the youth, as people thought. It is completely the opposite."
- David Bowie

"I never saw anything all that sexual about Dudes as a lyric. I know it sounds daft, but to me it was just a great song. After Dudes we were considered instant fags in America. It was comical. A lot of gays followed us around, especially in America. We were scared at first because we all happen to be straight but then we started to talk to people and there wasn't anyone pushing you. I met some incredible people. It's like another nation. It's just scary at first because we were small town boys, but once we knew no one was going to grab us every minute of the day, everything was fine." 

- Ian Hunter, The Horse's Mouth

"Dudes sounded like a great rallying cry to all the dissaffected youth worldwide. With the addition of Ian rapping and ranting, the whole thing coalesced into an instant classic. I remember when Blue Weaver joined the ranks later on he played us an ancient early 1900's, French recording of a melody identical to the melody of 'ATYD'." 
– Dale 'Buffin' Griffin

 'Dudes' was also a commentary on the early 70's, and the glam/gay element was there in Bowie's lyrics

"It's a Gay Anthem! A rallying call to the young dudes to come out in the streets and show that they were beautiful and gay and proud of it." 
-       Lou Reed

"A song has to take on character, shape, body and influence people to an extent that they use it for their own devices. It must affect them not just as a song, but as a lifestyle. The rock stars have assimilated all kinds of philosophies, styles, histories, writings, and they throw out what they have gleaned from that."
-       David Bowie (William Burroughs interview: 
Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman)Rolling Stone, February 28, 1974

The ad-libbed ending was purely Ian Hunter's. In the fad-out 'rap', Ian is ribbing a kid in the crowd, coercing his friend bring him to the front. Ian pulls him on-stage so the kid can feel what it's like to be a 'star' and asks him, "How do ya feel?!"  You can almost see the grin on Ian's face as Ian says this! The line, 'Hey you with the glasses' is from a 1950s radio show called the Billy Cotton Band Show.

Hey you with the glasses
I want you in the front! 
Are you his friend? 
Bring him down!
I want him right here
There ya go!  
How does it feel? 

(Ian’s vignette of a fan ending up onstage predicted the advent of Punk, when fans of Mott The Hoople (Mick Jones –Clash) and the Stooges (John Lydon - Sex Pistols) formed their own bands and incited others to carry their own news – which was the exact spirit of the song ‘All The Young Dudes’. Bowie of course, was in a completely different realm at the time, recording his albums Low, Heroes and Iggy Pop’s masterpiece, The Idiot.)

'Dudes' was censored lyrically by BBC radio and TV. The line "Wendy's stealing clothes from Marks and Sparks" refers to UK department store Marks & Spencer. The line was replaced with: "Wendy's stealing clothes from unlocked cars".

Bowie introduced Mott The Hoople on stage at the Tower Theater near Philadelphia on November 29, 1972 and performed the song with them. (Released on Mott's All the Way from Stockholm to Philadelphia in 1998 and the expanded All The Young Dudes in 2006). David also performed the song on his 1973 and 1974 tours. Twenty years after their Philly duet, Bowie and Ian Hunter performed 'Dudes' at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert with Mick Ronson on guitar in 1992. Bowie later performed it during his Outside and Reality tours.

A version of the backing track for Mott the Hoople's version with Bowie's guide vocal exists. A variant of this; Bowie's vocal on the verses with Ian Hunter's on the chorus, was released on the 2006 reissue of All the Young Dudes.

Bowie's own studio version, recorded in December 1972 during his Aladdin Sane sessions went unreleased until 1995, in mono on the album RarestOneBowie. Bowie also used the music of 'Dudes' played backward in his song 'Move On' on his album Lodger in 1979.

Bowie then produced Mott's album titled All The Young Dudes, recorded from May – July at Olympic and Trident studios in 1972 and released on September 8. The now famous cover concept and art direction was by Mick Rock. George Underwood tinted a vintage illustration – a cover of the Saturday Evening Post that Mick Rock had intended for the cover. The original drawing was from an ad for men's suits in 1917.  The old English typeface came from the Society Brand Clothes logo. 

Mick Rock had originally submitted a photo of a young kid posing with a guitar. Here is the story of how they located the kid years later…

The following album simply titled Mott contained a song called 'Hymn For the Dudes' the moniker by which their own fans came to be fondly known.

Mott The Hoople bid their fans farewell with a lone single in October 1974 after a final album called The Hoople. 'Saturday Gigs' was their final anthem - a love letter to their fans chronicling the band's history from the 1969 Roundhouse gigs to their week-long 1974 Broadway engagement in NYC (with Queen as opening act) and their fizzled out European tour that same year. At the end of every Def Leppard concert, Joe Elliott tells the cheering crowd, "Don't you ever forget us, and we'll never forget you!" These words come from deep within Joe's heart. They were the fade-out lyrics of his favorite band Mott The Hoople's farewell single.

At Mott The Hoople's reunion gigs at Hammersmith Odeon in 2009, the bittersweet finale was 'Saturday Gigs'. The band poignantly put down their instruments at the song's end, chanting the 'goodbye' coda acapella as the lights went down. Mott exited the stage, as the joyful yet tearful crowd carried on chanting 'goo-ood byyye', echoing through the hall.

'All The Young Dudes' 1972
·       Verden Allen – organ, backing vocals
·       Dale 'Buffin' griffin – drums
·       Ian Hunter – lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards,
·       Mick Ralphs – guitar, backing vocals
·       Pete Overend Watts – bass
·       David Bowie – backing vocals

(An addendum by Mott's Morgan Fisher):

Thanks for the article Madeline. Dudes is indeed a bit of a classic and on occasion I still play it live.

Buffin’s memory about Blue isn’t quite right. It was me that created a spoof recording, with my synths sounding like an old 78rpm record of an orchestra playing the Dudes melody. I had the band believing me for a few minutes!

Check it out here:



by Madeline Bocaro

Shortly after Bowie's passing in 2016, Ian Hunter wrote a beautiful tribute song. It appears as a single, and on his album Fingers Crossed.

I think it's so sweet that although Ian recorded with Bowie, and is much older than him, he wrote the song from the viewpoint of a fan during the Ziggy Stardust era. 'Dandy' is clearly reminiscent of Mott's farewell 'Saturday Gigs', a love letter to Hoople fans upon the band's breakup, taking us through the years of wonderful memories. 'Dandy' has an equally sweet guitar melody (like Ronson's on 'Saturday Gigs') and a similary long 'goodbye' fadeaway.

Ian starts the song with his hero Bob Dylan's line from 'Ballad of a Thin Man' about our very own 'Mr. Jones' (Bowie's real surname). So cool that he name-checks the Spiders, and credits Ronson (as Little Lord Fauntleroy) who let the genie out of his lamp / amp.

Ian manages to incorporate Bowie's future masterpiece 'Heroes' which is what he made us all feel like. I also love the mentions of 'The Prettiest Star' and 'Life on Mars?' And the Cabaret Voltaire reference is spot on!

The line makes me cry is:

Dandy - this world was black-and-white 
You showed us what it's like 
To live inside a rainbow 

The middle eight 'Lie lie la lie…' refers to Bowie's 'Starman' yet it has a Germanic Brecht/Weil vibe, which David would love. I wish Bowie was here to sing backing vocals on this one!

Thanks to Ian for getting it right, and dedicating it to the fans!

Something is happening - Mr. Jones
My brother says you're better than the Beatles or the Stones
From Saturday night to Sunday morning
You turned us into heroes 
Can you hear the heroes sing 

Dandy you are the prettiest star 
There ain't no life on Mars - but we always there might be

Dandy - you opened up the door 
You left us wanting more 
And then we took the last bus home

Who let the genie out of the lamp?
The Little Lord Fontleroy who let him out of his amp
From Saturday night to Sunday morning 
Well Trevor's getting bolder 
and Woody loves the hit thing

Dandy - this world was black-and-white 
You showed us what it's like 
To live inside a rainbow 

Dandy - you thrilled us to the core 
You left us wanting more 
And then we took the last bus home

Lie lie la lie 
Lie lie la lie...

You beat up the 
You had it all
The voice, the look the songs that shook
The gift of the gab and the gall

From Saturday night to Sunday morning 
When all we had to look forward to was the WEEKEND
You made our lives worth living

Dandy - You're still the prettiest star
There ain't no life on Mars but we always thought there might be
Dandy you took us to the fair
With Cabaret Voltaire
And then we took the last train home

Dandy - You know we waited long enough
They should put a statue up in Picadilly Circus

Dandy - You blew us all away
Outta the drab and the gray
And then we caught the last bus home
The keeper of the flame
We won't see your like again
Oh Dandy was a one-off

Hey look at what you've become
I guess I owe you one
So thanks for the memories