David Bowie Memory Palace [part 4]

I only encountered Ziggy Stardust six years later

I only encountered Ziggy Stardust seven years later

1978

In 1978 I entered High school and changes had occurred over the summer. As a result of cultural disco saturation, I chanced to discover FM Rock and stopped listening to top 40 radio hits. By the time I was entering high school, it was now album rock for me. This blew open my previously ultra-limited perspectives on many artists I had barely heard growing up. I discovered that Yes and Pink Floyd had more than one song [“Roundabout,” “Money”] and there were also several more to be heard from that interesting Bowie character. I chanced to hear other deep cuts like “Sufragette City” and “TVC15,” and at least once, I heard the proto funk on “1984” on a station that would not otherwise have funky rhythm guitar straight out of Isaac Hayes “Theme From Shaft” on their airwaves. All of this sounded mighty good to my teenaged ears, but I was still not buying records yet. I still had no stereo to play them on! By this time Bowie’s status as a gay icon who’d admitted that he was gay in a time when no one else did had became known to me. It seemed like a showy thing to do, but then, he was a rock star. I guess it came with the territory.

1979

RCA | US | LP | 1976 | APL1-1732

RCA | US | LP | 1976 | APL1-1732

RCA | US | LP | 1972 | LSP-4702

RCA | US | LP | 1972 | LSP-4702

In 1979 I got my first stereo§ in the summer between 10th and 11th grade. My larger consumption of music began in earnest. I soon got my first large dose of Bowie courtesy of a friend who was gone to visit his older brother in New Orleans during the summer. Clete’s brother was older and rife with rock LPs. I gave Clete some blank tapes to bring back some recordings of his choice from his brother’s collection to hear in detail. It may have been his idea; I can’t quite remember. There was a tape with two Bowie albums on it: “The Rise + Fall Of Ziggy Stardust” on one side and “Changeonebowie” on the second. To say the tape was a hit was an understatement! This was like a feast of creative rock [and soul] music after what seemed like a drip feed for almost a decade. By then I had been at least aware of the status that “Ziggy Stardust” had attained in its first years out there in the wilderness, and I had to say, it more than measured up to the hype. This was a versatile, intriguing rock album with songs that suggested a story in the most vivid terms imaginable.

If “Ziggy” had been a legend that the facts more than lived up to, then “Changesonebowie” showed that the artist had been covering a lot of ground in seven of the ten years of his mainstream career as of then. All of the sounds here were great and were every bit as expansive as the single “Ziggy Stardust” album on the tape’s other side suggested they would be. I was getting ready to dive into the Bowie canon, but was not quite ready to take the plunge. For one thing, I had no money to buy records. But the next year I hit upon a cunning plan

Next: …Bowie Finally Enters the Nascent Record Cell

§ – …not that I’ve ever owned more than four so far…

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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13 Responses to David Bowie Memory Palace [part 4]

  1. Echorich says:

    I think Changesonebowie was a big influence on a lot of American music listeners. It did as well charts-wise as many of the albums the songs were taken from, and remained the best way to get to know the artist and his changes in direction for a number of years.
    My first year in high school coincided with a steep increase in my allowance and much more music buying as well as a new fixation on British music weekly NME.
    I was well aware of Punk and collecting it and Proto-Post Punk by 10th grade in a big way. But I was still fixated on Bowie’s Berlin albums (to date) and Stationtostation. Low was especially important because of side two. Bowie instrumentals was a new and curious thing and the use of synthesizers really hit home. These tracks were mysterious, but somehow not difficult. The synths on Warszawa almost “sing” in the way they carry such a strong, sad, dark melody. Subterraneans, to this day, still sounds to me as if it would be the music you would hear as you entered a secret, hallowed, beautiful underworld. Once again, Bowie was broadening my appreciation of music.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – “Low” was the second Bowie album I bought, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Next year… And “allowance?” It didn’t occur to give myself one of those until last year; my first!

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      • Echorich says:

        Among my schoolmates, I was known to have a pitiful weekly allowance from my parents. But somehow I managed to save those 5 or 6 dollars at a time it took to buy new albums back then. I’d go to town when EJ Korvettes department store had a $2.99 and $3.99 blowout!

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        • Taffy says:

          oh, thx for the memory jog. Korvette and Disc-o-mat were the places I seriously bulked up my record collection.

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          • postpunkmonk says:

            Taffy – Were those Northeastern chains? Never heard of ’em until now. Bulking up happened when I learned about used record stores and cutouts. Sigh. Miss those cutouts!

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            • Echorich says:

              interesting story behind department store EJ Korvettes it stands for Eight Jewish Korean Veterans – who began the firm when they returned from their time at war. NYC was glutted with department store chains and somewhere along the line, Korvettes managed to move heavily into selling music. They had a color coding system and albums ran from $2.99 – $5.99 but were usually on sale for $3.99 or $4.99.
              Disc-o-Mat was a big record store chain from the mid 70’s until the mid-80’s and, depending on the store and who managed it, you could find everything from classic rock, jazz, show tunes, but also the latest New Wave and Punk domestic releases and a small but well curated import section as well. I bought the first Clash album on import there. The first Cowboys International album and The Fall – Live At The Witch Trials come to mind as well.

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              • Taffy says:

                actually, the Eight Jewish Korean Veteran thing was debunked…one big reason being that the store was founded (and named) a few years before the Korean war started! sorry to be a buzzkill.
                both Korvette and Disc-o-mat had one big thing in common – records in bulk. Lots and lots and lots of records. Well before Tower moved into the northeast, this was the kind of merchandising that appealed to a new consumer like me…show off the stock and have a deep back catalog. I had yet to stumble on the used-record market…that was indeed the big game-changer.

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                • Echorich says:

                  Makes for good copy I guess. And you’re right, not hard to find how that one was debunked… And you’re right Taffy, Korvettes and Disc-O-Mat never had less than 10 of anything you might want – I’m sure that’s an exaggeration, but it always seemed like that. Because Disc-O-Mat used both the Major’s distribution system, as well as some of the independent record distributors, individual store buyers could fill in the imports section or new music section with stuff that was hot on NYC college radio or making news in the mags. I took full advantage of that.

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                  • postpunkmonk says:

                    Echorich – You guys up North sounded spoiled! In Central Florida, it was often a battle for the import bins. If I went shopping with friends, it was every man for himself.

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  2. Taffy says:

    Changesonebowie was my first Bowie purchase. Changes was probably the first Bowie song I ever heard; it certainly was the one I have my earliest memories of. Wish I still had the vinyl album (I sold it off when I made the great vinyl to CD switch in 1990 or so), as I can recall staring endlessly into those two beautifully and strangely “un-identical” eyes and trying to figure him out. Always remaining a mystery to me.

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  3. JC says:

    loved reading the exchange of comments. Growing up, even in a city like Glasgow which is substantial in UK terms in respect of population and cultural activities, I envied those who lived in the States. I guess I thought everywhere was just like the places in the comedies and cop shows I was hooked on. I now know that life on the other side of the pond wasn’t anything like as glamorous as I imagined in my youthful days.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      JC – Echorich was in the thick of things in New York City. I was in Orlando, Florida, whose culture was entirely informed by Walt Disney World. Prior to that being built, it was a agricultural backwater-slash-retirement haven.

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