Stardust: How did Bowie change the music? (first part)

We’re sure you’re tired of that phrase David Bowie a kind of rock and roll chameleon and to skillfully adapt to genres and times. Chewed in the music media more than “the ball is round” in sports broadcasts. Today, six years after his death, when, if he had survived, he would have been 75 years old, David Jones has never been more clearly seen as an innovator and a man who changed music. Except for those few times in the second half of the eighties, of course. But all the best about the deceased, so we will close our eyes to that period.

Fascinated by Elvis, Little Richard and jazz, the young man from Brixton found a musical genius in himself relatively quickly. It wasn’t long before the first big hit, but once the wheels slammed, the machine couldn’t stop. Most people also know about “Spiders from Mars”, the band that sent Ziggy Stardust into space. Mick Ronson, Mick “Woody” Woodmans, Trevor Boulder and live Mike Garson (who will be discussed later), were the band that gave Ziggy a cosmic sound. Ronson entered the legend as an explosive glam rock (not to be confused with the bad glam metal of the eighties) guitarist who had more aces up his sleeve than his contemporaries, but that legend chilled relatively consistently until glam rock was forgotten. Although the legend of Mick Ronson somehow disappeared too soon, the guitar fireworks he left in his vows later had a significant share in the punk antics on six strings.

david bowie

But we’ll talk about that, of course, later. Spiders were influential, but the credit for that influence was taken by the glamorous rumor around that band. Yes, David Bowie is the first character to make stars out of a make-up rock band, but there was another interesting thing. In his talent for recognizing the great pop contagion, Bowie has found amazing musicians over the years, when the last cobweb from Mars was swept away. Channeling their influences through his ideas, David Bowie changed the DNA of music, which we classify today as a broad “rock” umbrella. To call David Bowie a mere rock musician would be tantamount to declaring Gary Oldman an actor who changes accents well. Unspoken and therefore incomplete.

David Bowie changed music, both through his unique understanding of pop and influence, and through the army of musicians with whom he practiced this twisted alchemy. From the most seductive rhythm sections in the world, through the skilled anonymous people who became guitar legends, to the experimentalists for whom we have entire genres of music today, David Bowie changed the world with the cream of the music world. And as Gil Scott Heron says, the revolution will not be on TV, so most of the geniuses in charge of the characteristic sound remained the most famous among musicians. We have a lot to tell you about the musicians of the greatest “singer-songwriter”.

The Secret Life Rhythm Section

Although by all standards they were almost everyday glam rock band Spiders from Mars, they served the purpose of launching the young and until then rather unsuccessful David Bowie into orbit around the planet. After a lukewarm reception “The Man Who Sold The World“And the explosive success of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sein, David Bowie embraced his greatest love – rhythm and blues. Soaked in the influences of African-American music, “Diamond DogsWas an album where Bowie personally took over guitar (and almost all) guitaries due to the lack of Mick Ronson, but Martian arachnids still stayed here, so the album is a mix of Bowie’s constant inclination towards soul and funk and glam rock in the enchanting kiss of the earliest punk .

Fanka, as we know, is not without a rhythm section that takes your breath away and does not allow you to stand still. On the next album, Bowie employs a twenty-three-year-old (!!!) guitarist (rhythm) Carlos Alomar, a studio musician who has James Brown, Chuck Berry, Luther Vandross, Ben E. King and neo-soul father Roy Ayers in his portfolio at the time. Working with Ayers, Alomar played the drum Denise Davis, the man with whom he will establish perhaps the most legendary rhythm section in the life and career of David Bowie.

david bowie young americans

He brought Davis to record Bowie’s first thoroughbred soul album “Young Americans”, so as a duo they broke up on the famous hit “FameAnd a cover of The Beatles’ Across the Universe. “Fame” is famous for hosting Lennon, and was later reworked by James Brown himself. To that acknowledgment, let us add that i George Clinton admitted that Bowie then became “pure P-Funk”, is not enough. Interestingly, the link between rhythm and harmony, the foundation of every song, was not played on the album by the third member of that famous rhythm section, but by Willie Weeks.

Weeks is one of the most sought-after studio bassists on the planet, and he is still hyperactive today. You’ve probably seen him on the famous live of the song “Layla” when the old magician Clapton is looking for everything on stage with his sudden playing of the famous riff. Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. However, Weeks did not stay with Bowie, so the last part of the legendary rhythm players – George Murray – entered the story. Davis, Alomar and Murray were the so-called DAM Trio. Damn! (homonym with DAM, “Bokte!”, free translation by the author), was the reaction that this trio provoked. This three-member group of masters was the basis for all of David Bowie’s albums from “Station to Station“ do „Scary Monsters“.

We also hear their influence on his music, which was influenced by “The Idiot” by Igija Pop. Jan Curtis, Trent Reznor, Martin Glover, Depeche Mode, Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins once swore to the album, and the magic of Bowie’s rhythm machine “Nightclubbing“You can hear it in that song in which Trent Reznor wants to someone something like an animal. The same rhythm section that practically sowed the seeds of post-punk and industrial on “The Idiot” recorded the rest of the album in Europe with Bowie in those years (we say in Europe because no, not the whole trilogy was recorded in Berlin). But before the trilogy of revolutionary albums, Bowie’s rhythm proved himself by playing on a magnum opus called “Station to Station”. Driving through Bowie’s then-biggest attempt at art rock and the rest of the funky album, the three made David Bowie sound the least English he could ever sound. The DAM Trio was pure rhythm and blues, which is why Bowie flourished with them.

David Bowie Station to Station
foto: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

From the first bar of the first album of the famous trilogy, two things are clear – Bowie played from the production side and the groove is phenomenal. While Brian Ino (about him later) and Bowie practically fucked with electronics (Bowie says he couldn’t believe how many sons Ino carried with him), Alomar, Davis and Murray played funk that acted experimentally because of the whole production and Ino’s ways of innovation. About the impact of the album “Heroes“We can until the day after tomorrow, but as far as the rhythm of the section is concerned, we should pay attention to”The Secret Life of Arabia“, Which is perhaps the closest that David Bowie was on a clean disc. The way he knows how to pick it up, of course.

Without the music of “Low” and “Heroes” (and to a large extent the album “Lodger”), the eighties would not be interspersed with so many bands whose influence we can not see today. From Joy Division, Gang of Four, The Stranglers all the way to later favorites Radiohead and Arcade Fire. From an experimental approach to creation to combining “standard” elements with innovations. Young Curtis, York, Newman, Le Bon and Reznor would not have recorded many masterpieces later if there was no music from these albums, ie. a band that breathed a unique life into her.

The last work of this magical trio was “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)“, Where they laid the foundations for the bravado of no one else Roberta Fripa. Frip is, in fact, a returnee from “Heroes”, but here it comes to the fore, if we exclude the famous “riff” “Heroes”. While Alomar continued to be part of Bowie’s inventory until 2003 (he plays “Fly” on the album “Reality”), Davis continued with his studio and session work, perhaps the biggest wunderkind on the team, Murray, retired. from the world of music and now lives and works anonymously in some part of California.

After this hidden gem, Bowie’s next project was organized by Niall Rodgers, who brought Carmine Roh to the bass, and Omar Hakim for drums. When those three are in the same room, there is no conversation, you move your hips. Conditioned by the publisher to give birth to a hit, Bowie hired Rogers to make him an album for the game podium. “Let’s Dance“It is still Bowie’s best-selling album today, with almost 11 million copies sold. Although the boss himself started his creative stumbling block at the time, the band led by Rogers created one of the best records of that decade. Opening the door to the torrent of pop artists of the eighties of colorful quality, “Let’s Dance” was the perfect rock record with which you can light a disco.

Carmine is one of the most respected bassists in the history of the instrument, while Omar Hakim is a jazz / funk version of Josh Fries. After Bowie, the man played on Miles Davis’ albums for the Scottish band Dire Straits. Yes, the man who moves your ass while Bowie proudly shouts “Leeeeeeet’s daaaaaaaance!” Is the same man who plays “Money for Nothing” and “Tutu”. If we were to leaf through the influential music that Hakim played after Bowie, our site would break. In addition to the musicians themselves later enjoying the wave of fame, “Let’s Dance” finally managed to shake the conservative hips of rockers after the seventies. The audience also played, but all contemporaries stopped being ashamed of their desire to conquer dancefloor. Best of all, Rogers crystallized this album as the best producer of the eighties, so he was in charge of hits for almost a decade. When you make David Bowie a hit album, everyone suddenly wants you.

David Bowie

Bowie was not overly concerned with pushing the boundaries until the mid-1990s, when his studio band was made up of old acquaintances and new faces, who slowly but surely brought him back to the future. On the fully experimental industrial meets jazz album from 1995 “1. Outside“The backbone of the band consisted of guitarists Alomar and Gabrels, bassists Josi Fajn and Erdal Kizilčaj, while the drum was beaten by Sterling Campbell. The album often eludes pop music historians because it was not overly popular, given that Bowie deliberately avoided being a hit.

The biggest impact of this album was the tour on which the old magician promoted Nine Inch Nails more than all the Oscars that Trent Reznor almost picked up, but he slowly started to influence himself as well. Additional refining of the band on tour led to Gejl En Dorsi, bassists and singers without whom we would not have the last twenty-five years of music by David Bowie. The changing duo of drummers (Campbell and Zack Alford) stayed with Bowie until “The Next Day” with the occasional involvement of Matt Chamberlain. Modern Arcade Fire certainly watched all the possible performances of the last Bowie bands and took notes.

Although not as famous as works from the late seventies, Bowie’s albums with a changeable team from 1995 onwards are a real treat for musicians. Especially when it comes to rhythm sections. Truth be told, the albums on the bass are mostly Tony Visconti or Tony Levin (Dorsey became one of the busiest bassists in the world due to her newly acquired fame and talent, so DB kept her on tour).

Bowie’s latest albums do not wave to musical stunts, but they show a perfectly distributed role of musicians in favor of the songs themselves. There is no simple drum, there are no uniform bass lines, but nothing casts a shadow on the songs themselves, but elevates them. From Alomar to Jerry Leonard, Bowie’s (rhythm) guitarists always perform riffs that no one else could have thought of. Legendary, but not so famous musicians write everything that is between the covers of the history of popular music. Strong inversions, harmonies and games with effects that sound insanely simple, but throw you into a puzzle when you try to replicate them are a trademark of all Bowie’s rhythms.

We will go so far as to say that David Bowie would not be David Bowie if it were not for these rhythm sections. Bowie himself knew that, so he charmed and kept them for years. Watching all the interviews with the members of his bands, one gets the impression that they would all be there even if they didn’t have a fee. When you let the rhythm section unravel, you get the perfect pop groove, whatever goes over it. Bowie understood that well.

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