I’m not one of those people who buys those UK mags with a CD attached to the cover with a strip of gookum. Too rich for my blood. The last UK music rag I had the time for was Q Magazine, almost 25 years ago! When a US copy vaulted the $5 price tag, that was enough for my budget. Given the choice of buying a magazine or buying an album for that five spot, the music will win every time. Music press is only valid with small change. If it’s enough to actually buy music, why just read about it for the same cost? But picking up the CD for a pittance, with no mag to clutter my Record Cell? Not a problem. This one looked promising. It’s Bowie! How can you go wrong?
# 10 • Various: Rebel Rebel – A Tribute To David Bowie [Uncut] UK CD 
- Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Rebel Rebel
- The Sea And Cake – Sound And Vision
- King Crimson – Heroes [live]
- The Last Town Chorus – Modern Love
- John Howard – The Bewlay Brothers
- Ed Kuepper –The Man Who Sold The World
- Brett Smiley – Kooks
- LA Guns – Moonage Daydream
- Eater – Queen Bitch
- Mott The Hoople – All The Young Dudes [live]
- Nico – Heroes [live]
- Mercury Rev – Memory Of A Free Festival
There were three cuts here that made this a must-buy. First, the great Sigue Sigue Sputnik tackling the title cut seemed like it would be a no-brainer. And Bowie thought enough of SSS to cover “Love Missile F-111” as a B-side from his “New Killer Star” single so the mutual love was palpable. SSS attack the cut with gusto in a faux live recording from their early demo CD, “First Generation.” At least I fervently hope that it’s a faux live recording! That would make it even more delicious.
Then the notion of King Crimson performing “Heroes” with Fripp reprising his guitar leads was a no-brainer. The live recording from their 10-23-2000 Los Angeles House Of Blues recording is far less mannered than any of the other Fripp takes I’ve heard on this classic tune [that would be Blondie.] Belew sounds pretty hot and bothered here, but it was the encore to a show that Fripp found much fault with. I didn’t mind this at all. There’s nothing better than Fripp playing lead on this song!
Finally, I’d heard Nico covering “Heroes” on her “Drama Of Exile” album when it came out in 1981. I’ve been obsessed with her sepulchral cover of this occasionally uplifting song ever since! Once you hear Nico oozing over this song, it will never be the same! The live version here is pretty amazing. It’s almost nine minutes long, for a start! The live arrangement is propulsive, almost rock-disco and yet Nico is her same bad self singing it! It has a completely different character to the studio version that I was familiar with.
So those three were my motivators. How about the rest of the selections? The Sea and Cake put down a fairly tight version of “Sound & Vision.” They get the percussive synth hi-hat hits just right! The vocals have a different sound, of course. The closest thing to a bummer here is The Last Town Chorus’ version of “Modern Love.” It has that “alt girl rock” vibe redolent of Edie Brickell way too strongly for my tastes. I don’t mind the very different arrangement as much as the singing on it that fails to woo me. But that’s the only out and out track I’d even think of missing.
John Howard was a glam rock-come-lately who issued his album “Kid In A Big World” then fell off the musical map for years. His version of “The Bewlay Brothers” is superb, with excellent singing that owes nothing to Anthony Newley this time ’round! The compilers of this album were really digging up a few of the more obscure Bowie-inspired contemporaries to contribute to this album. Besides John Howard, there was also Brett Smiley to consider.
My knowledge of obscure tributaries of the great Bowie river almost begins and ends with Jobraith, but Smiley released just a single 7″ before disappearing for decades of hard-lived life. His “Va-Va-Voom” b/w “Space Age” single was produced by Andrew Loog Oldham in 1974 before decades of crunching obscurity beckoned. His sole album was released in 2003 and since them, Smiley’s brought the threads of his life together and is singing once again. His cover of “Kooks” sounds like the work of someone who once started in a production of “Oliver” as indeed Smiley had.
I hate to sound churlish, especially as one who holds Ian Hunter in such high regard, but I’ve lost count of how many live versions of “All The Young Dudes” with him singing that I have in the Record Cell. Of greater interest today was the appearance of LA Guns on that hardest rocking of Ziggy Stardust tunes “Moonage Daydream!” No one will supplant Ronson’s Righteous Riffing on that little number, my still favorite cut on the Ziggy album, but LA Guns honor one of their spiritual fathers on the track for sure.
Finally, I quite enjoyed finally hearing Eater for the first time ever with their speed punk sprint through the finest Lou Reed pastiche ever, the amazing “Queen Bitch.” Hard to believe those wet nosed punks were on the shy side of 16 when they committed this tune to wax on their sole studio album. At the end of the day, this is a fabbo traipse through the Bowie songbook, stilted as it was towards the first decade of his career. You can hardly go wrong if you see this one in the used bins.
– 30 –
Ed Kuepper knows his way round a cover version and his ‘TMWSTW’ is an effortless corker.
The Swede – Funny you should mention “The Man Who Sold The World,” as it has always been my least favorite Bowie song. I have not liked any of the many covers, either. When I saw David Bowie Is the Saturday Night Live performance was the first version of that song that ever worked for me.