Townsman trolleyvox asked if we could talk about this 1969 promotional film for David Bowie, Love You Till Tuesday. Time has come today, and while we’re at it feel free to talk about a 1976 film starring Bowie, Nicholas Roeg‘s The Man Who Fell to Earth, which I finally watched all the way through.
My main thought about the promotional film is that the ’60s could not contain Bowie. He had no available space to occupy. Everything he tried to do in a ’60s vein, including whimsical gnome pop, UK pop balladry, and soft-shoe/mime routines, had already been done better by Syd Barrett, The Bee Gees, and Davey Jones (The Monkees’ Davey Jones, that is), respectively. The scenes with him playing alongside his buddies are really awkward. David did not play well with others. He had to be his own man. He had to help shape the next decade. It was a matter of survival.
Speaking of matters of survival, Bowie is really good in The Man Who Fell to Earth. I’ve mildly enjoyed him in other small acting parts, but he does fall into self-consciousness more than a real actor should. In Roeg’s film he gets to play a variation on his musical character. He’s even an alien space traveler who misses his wife and is named Thomas. (No word on whether he ranked as a Major on his home planet.) As an added bonus, I got to see way more of Candy Clark‘s acting talents than she was able to display in a movie from my childhood that did much to shape me: American Graffiti.
When I was younger Roeg’s visual-heavy style left me unsatisfied, but since seeing this movie and re-watching Walkabout a few months ago I’m willing to see him as more than a Thinking Man’s Ken Russell. Maybe I’ll revisit Performance or Don’t Look Now or even the one about Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. Jeez, I’m turning into Buskirk!
In a recent If You Can’t Say Anything Nice post Mr. Moderator submitted a video that featured aging pop fluffer Robin McNamara accompanied by two very fine back-up dancers on either side. What immediately came to mind is, this guy is literally “Hot-Dogging.” Yes, I know the term is rather sophomoric but I think it aptly describes a man inserting himself between two backup singers. This is very useful ploy to prop up a singer lacking in talent, such as Mr. McNamara; however, some of our heroes have used it to class things up a bit. Case in point is David Bowie in the following clip from Live Aid. Not only is the front line all female (singers and saxophonist), he goes for full hot-dogging at the 1:50 mark.
In my last band we had a song called “All Girl Band,” which told the story of a guy forming an all-female backup band, presumably to make him look like a ladies man. While this may seem a little sexist it has brought success to The Cramps and, errr, Tony Orlando.
Are there any other examples of hot-dogging you would like to submit? Or is their perhaps a less graphic term you would like to suggest?
This one puts me in a Cold Sweat…or…makes me wanna put your ray gun to my head. Either way you figger it, someone seriously ripped someone off here and the guilty party is either David Bowie or James Brown.
A couple of weeks ago Mr. Moderator made a west coast trip to The Back Office to discuss some Q3 RTH ventures. As part of this company retreat we attended a taping of Conan, complete with VIP tickets (true story).
The “money shot,” that big payoff moment… David Bowie provides one of rock’s all-time money shots at the 1:16 mark of “Heroes,” when he jumps up to the higher register. Even rock fans who have had issues with Bowie tend to dig “Heroes,” and I bet even the most down-to-earth, meat-and-potatoes rockers among get a little chill when his vocals leap an octave.
I believe a significant portion of 1980s music was founded on this device, surely not a device Bowie founded but one he drove into our collective conscious. Bono, in particular, has tried to work this money shot move into 75% of U2’s songs.
In future weeks we’ll examine money shot moments featuring other instruments, but today let’s focus on vocalists. What are some of rock’s other most-influential vocal money shots?
Before leaving for work this morning I watched about 45 minutes of some Scott Walker documentary, 30th Century Man. It took a lot of concentration to stick with it for as long as I did, but I was doing it for you, especially those of you who profess to like the solo recordings by Scott Walker. (You’re welcome.)
As we progress through the Semifinals round of our tournament to determine—once and for all—rock’s greatest backing band ever, the Classic Conference comes down to a battle between Crazy Horse and The Spiders From Mars. The winner of this match will face the upcoming Rebel Conference champs.
Through the long, painstaking course of this tournament adequate arguments have been made on behalf of all the semifinalists. That doesn’t mean you’re not encouraged to continue arguing for your selection in this round, but you are welcome to cast your vote now. Voting in this match will run through 11:59 pm on Thursday, February February 23, 2012.
Semifinals, Classic Conference: Crazy Horse vs The Spiders From Mars.