the years many artists have decided it
would be a wonderful idea to collect some
of their favorite songs, cover them, and
then release them onto their fans for
consumption. Some have done this with
great success. Joan Jett's 'Hit List'
from 1990 put a great new spin on some
of her favorite tunes, and Bryan Ferry's
'These Foolish Things' gave Ferry the
perfect outlet to show off his lounge
Other times it does not work so well.
The desperate attempt by Mettalica to
get back some street credibility after
losing it with their two terrible albums
'Load' and 'Re-Load', their horrific collection
of covers called ‘Garage Days Re-visited’
(1996), which more or less went straight
from the sales racks to the second hand
stalls for those who were unfortunate
enough to have bought it.
'Pin Ups' was one of the front runners
of this vogue, and really, with the results
perhaps it should of been the last. In
between the albums 'Alladin Sane' (I973)
and the magnificent 'Diamond Dogs' (1974),
David Bowie split up his backing band,
although he used them to record this motley
collection of music. Why? I have no idea.
The talents of the ‘Spiders from
Mars’ are so far put down in the
mix, they are hardly audible. The one
thing that this record screams out for
is some fiery guitar licks from the platinum
haired ‘Spider from Mars’
Mick Ronson, instead he is so far down
in the mix, he is barely audible. The
same applies to the rest of the band.
The rhythm section that was so solid on
'Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars'
sounds as though they have had their amplifiers
stolen. Mike Garson's piano is used only
to help fill out the chorus. The only
lead instrument that blares forward at
the front of the mix on almost every song
is David Bowie’s saxophone, blowing
up a very amateurish storm. What a waste.
Maybe the biggest problem with ‘Pin
Ups’ is that these ten songs, probably
David Bowie's most favorite songs from
the early sixties, may not necessarily
suit his style? And can he pull it off?
(Don't forget, David Bowie and ‘The
Spiders from Mars’ did a marvelous
cover of the Stones classic 'Let’s
Spend the Night Together' on the band’s
previous album 'Alladin Sane') The answer
to both questions is definitely “no”.
The song selection is second to none,
but with the instruments pushed so far
down in the mix, all the songs rely upon
Bowie’s voice. In parts it works.
The re-hash of the Merseys 'Sorrow' is
a lovely little love song, which gave
David Bowie a Top Ten hit and much needed
writing royalties to the 'Merseys' songwriters
Bowie even manages to out weird Syd Barret
on Pink Floyd's 'See Emily Play'.
But these are the only two songs in the
positive column. When David Bowie tries
to sing the songs of some of Britain's
finest vocalists like Roger Daltrey of
the Who, Phil May of the Pretty Things,
and the great Van Morrison, who in the
sixties led 'Them', then there is no doubt,
Bowie just has not got the chops for it.
The two Who songs should have Bowie up
in musical court for murder. The Pretty
Things anthem ‘Don't Bring Me Down'
does bring you down in Bowie's hands.
One wonders ‘Where Have All The
Good Times Gone?’ when Bowie launches
into this Kinks classic, such is the lack
of enthusiasm of all those involved. And
this was the song left to close the set
before two wretched bonus tracks were
added for the CD release. If you are a
Bruce Springstein fan, please do not listen
to Bowie’s version of ‘Growin'
The ultimate disaster though is reserved
for the Yardbirds classic 'Shapes Of Things'.
The song sounds as though having lost
the services of Eric Clapton. The rest
of the Yardbirds decided to replace Clapton
with not Jeff Beck, but the Camp Kenneth
Williams from the Carry-On series. Has
to be heard to be believed.
The artwork for the cover says a lot,
a nice picture of David Bowie with Twiggy
on the front cover. Then inside more pictures
of the man himself mostly with the offending
saxophone or wearing the most ludicrous
pair of trousers. But - tellingly - no
mention or picture of any other musician
connected to the album. Probably they
did not want to be associated with it.
The following year Bowie came out with
the magnificent ‘Diamond Dogs’
and all was forgiven, but ‘Pin Ups’
was a positive disaster. Best to avoid
this little bump on Bowie's rise to superstardom.
Pinned up by Mott the Dog
Stretched out by Ella Crew