David Bowie - Diamond Dogs (1974)

Part 3 of the glam Bowie trilogy:

After the full-bodied avant-garde flourishes of Aladdin Sane, the wispiness of the production here is a huge disappointment- it’s even more noticeable than on Ziggy. Bowie, handling production duties, gives himself little to work with. A lethargic, substance-ridden corpse vaguely resembling Ziggy Stardust (or the barely re-branded Halloween Jack) had sacked his spiders and decided to play guitar here, and he’s also seemingly decided to stop singing. Efforts to make his bored-sounding vocals at all compelling on the title track include the use of a cheese-grater-esque vocal filter (try singing into moving fan blades- you’ll get much the same effect).

There are some interesting songs here- notably the melancholic “Sweet Thing”, scrapped stage number “1984’”and glam classic “Rebel Rebel”- but the rest of the album is marred by unenergetic performances and just functional guitar work (it has recently become apparent that the album’s one memorable lick- the riff from “Rebel Rebel”- may well have been, to an uncertain extent, appropriated from Jayne County). The flawed humanity of the last two albums has been replaced with a wall of aesthetic and lyrical cynicism (“As the last few corpses lay rotting on the slimy thoroughfare … Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue”), delivered with little conviction or excitement.

There are bits and pieces to be salvaged here, and opening monologue “Future Legend” is good for a campy sci-fi laugh (Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats/And ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes)- but overall this Diamond Dog is a tired old mongrel- time for a signature metamorphosis, David.


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