on February 23, 2004
Having heard Rebel Rebel on my rock radio station,I decided to buy this album. It really rocks.While Bowie's other releases are more piano and brass driven,Diamond Dogs has a dark,evil-sounding touch to it and at times flirts with heavy metal.lemme give u a rundown on the songs.
Future Legend:the evil, scary intro.Ten years later inspired Motley Crue's In The Beginning.
Diamond Dogs: Driven by a hard,loud beat this song is a great way to pretty much open the real album.
Sweet Thing: Not the best song on the album, but a classic nonetheless
Candidate:Probably the best song on the album. a hard rock gem .
Sweet Thing Reprise: Better than the first one.Reminds me of Candidate.
Rebel rebel: the most famous song on the album is driven by an electric rock giutar riff which makes it a rock classic.
Rockn roll with me: NOt my favorite song,but fits in with the concept.
We are the dead:really strange song.Very underrated.
1984:This song does not fit in with the rest of the album,flirting with disco and all but still good.
Big Brother: awfully good song with great catchy chorus.
Chant of the ever circling skeletal family: cool way to close the album.
on January 31, 2004
Bowie's voice distorted electronically sets the apocalyptic scene, of a civilization destroyed in the spoken "Future Legend" of mutants in Hunger City called who are waiting for the diamond dogs
After the heralding "This ain't rock and roll... this is genocide!", the title track comes on, sporting a snappy glam riff like T-Rex with some vocals sung as if done underwater, the story continues of the lavish rich having parties, but under prey of the diamond dogs.
The trio of "Sweet Thing", "Candidate", and the reprise of the former, all which segue into one another for a total 8:50, is the longest track (if taken collectively) Bowie's done since "Width Of A Circle." With an out-of-tune guitar and soft piano, a sense of loneliness and isolation permeates throughout the lyrics. Things go a bit more upbeat in "Candidate", with the and more nihilistic: "We'll buy some drugs and watch a band, then jump in the river holding hands." From "hope is a sweet thing", we get "love is a get-it-here thing." This part of the song deals with how one gets power with sex.
By far, the best song here is "Rebel Rebel", a tune with a hard-edged guitar done by Alan Parker and not by Bowie as has been formerly thought, and a Stones-like crunch. The 70's gender-ambiguity is shown in "not sure if you're a boy or a girl." This criminally flopped in the US, but reached #5 on the UK charts. Joan Jett covered this and it shows up on her Flashback compilation.
A soulful and gospel-like feel, with a piano and guitar melody features in the laid back "Rock N Roll With Me," a change from the previous theatrics.
The last three songs is all that's left of the concept album Bowie was trying to model after 1984, only to have George Orwell's widow deny him permission. There seems to be no justice, as Yes's Rick Wakeman released an album in 1981 titled 1984 with no repercussions. Anyway, "We Are The Dead" are the words Winston Smith utters to his lover Julia before they are captured by the Thought Police in Orwell's novel. Bowie's crooning over a slow melodic keyboard. Bowie half-speaks/sings the lyrics while in the background, he croons the title words.
"1984" has a bit of a funky disco beat like the Shaft song. Elements of brainwashing from the novel can be seen: "they'll split your pretty cranium and fill it full of air/and tell that you're eighty but rather you won't care." The song was later covered by Tina Turner on Private Dancer.
In "Big Brother and the Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family" Bowie seems to be praising some ubermensch-type person: "someone to blame us/someone to follow/someone to shame us/some great Apollo/someone to fool us/someone like you/we want you Big Brother." The chant part begins with a fuzzy guitar and chants of "brother" and "shake it up" before ending with a repeated tape loop.
With the dissolution of Ziggy and the Spiders, an interesting concept and a new sound, while still continuing the nihilistic apocalyptic themes of the Ziggy era.
on July 25, 2003
After laying waste to his Ziggy Stardust persona (as well as the Spiders from Mars) Bowie tried his hand at another concept album. Diamond Dogs is based on George Orwell's 1984, and having read the book I can say that Bowie succeeded in relaying the emotions of the book through his music. The atmosphere of the album is desperate and dark, with a few fun rockers thrown in to provide respite. Unfortunately, while there are some classic moments here, a lot of the album is bogged down by awkward song structures and instrumental delivery. The production (or the remastering) is shoddy, and on the first few listens this flaw is almost startling. Once you become accustomed to the sound, the album really begins to reward you with some excellent songs. Diamond Dogs could really have used a good lead guitarist however. Bowie does a respectable job and brings some interesting sounds to the table for tracks like Diamond Dogs and Sweet Thing but some songs could use an extra kick in the pants that Bowie just can't provide on guitar by himself.
The first six tracks are as good of a sequence as you can get. The segue from "Future Legend" to the outstanding "Diamond Dogs" is one of the best moments in rock history. The next three tracks - "Sweet Thing", "Candidate", and "Sweet Thing Reprise" are to be viewed as a linear piece and it makes for one of the best epics and vocal deliveries of Bowie's career. "Rebel Rebel" follows - it is one of Bowie's most popular songs driven by a godlike guitar line and danceable rhythym. Sadly, after 6 awe inspiring tracks the album begins to slide downhill. "Rock And Roll With Me" is one of the weakest Bowie songs I have ever heard, with [weak] crowd embracing lyrics and a pompous melody. The CD redeems itself after that with a string of good songs, especially "1984", but despite the great lyrics none of these songs reach the heights scaled in the first half of the record. Diamond Dogs ends on a very sour note with "Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family" which is a downright irritating "rock n' roll chant" that goes on way too long and by the time a tape glitch ends the song I'm thanking God.
While Diamond Dogs suffers in a few major areas, it's still a good Bowie album with a few classic songs. It's essential for a Bowie fan and I recommend picking it up.
on February 24, 2003
This is David Bowie's interpretation/homage to George Orwell's masterpiece, "1984". Regardless of whether or not you have read Orwell's novel, you'll surely love, or at least like, or at the very least, appreciate, Bowie's venture into the realm of the frightening and apocalyptic vision of the reign of the "Diamond Dogs." The only radio-friendly singles to be found on this album are the title track, and "Rebel Rebel," which are both magnificent songs. The best tracks on the album? Hardly. But I guess that all depends on the criteria by which you judge. If you are a die-hard Bowie fan, then you will very likely have more appreciation for the other lesser- known songs on the album, some of which are somewhat difficult to ingest, but even if you are not one of those insatiable Bowie fans (to which group I myself pertain), then you might at least acknowledge the mystery and intensity of Bowie's approach. . . Nobody in the rock business quite expresses themself in the way that Bowie does, and this album provides substantial proof for such a claim. Some of his best lyrics are to be found on this album. "Candidate" for example: "I'll make you a deal, like any other candidate/ we'll pretend we're walking home because your future's at stake/ my set was amazing and even smells like the street/ there's a bar at the end where I can meet you and your friend". . . Revolutionary, yes, this album is ever so much so. . . Bowie would have been hounded by the Mc Carthy era agents were this album to have been produced during that time! Even so, this album might be problematic for some people who do not (or are afraid to acknowledge) that the threat of "Big Brother" is always looming before us, eager to deprive us of our liberties as free-thinking individuals. This is the closest that Bowie has ever come to reflecting upon politics in an album (well, he kind of did so on "Scary Monsters", but not in such a straightforward way). . . "Because hope, boys, is a cheap thing, cheap thing" he sings. This is not a light-hearted album, and certainly not for the faint-of-heart or the close-minded. Bowie as politico: it may seem strange, but on this album, it is true. He has made allusions to figures such as Che Guevara (in "Alladin Sane") in the past, and even poked a certain amount of fun at Richard Nixon (on "Young Americans"), but this is the closest that Bowie comes to approaching the realm of politics. There is an isolated "love song" (although it is one of the cautious and jaded sort), "Rock and Roll with Me," but the rest of the oeuvre on "Diamond Dogs" is of a very different nature. . . "We are the Dead" is perhaps the counterpoint to "Rock and Roll with Me": the imminent threat of "Big Brother" overwhelms the romantic notions between lovers which would otherwise remain free and intact. . . "We're tomorrow's scrambled creatures/locked into tomorrow's double feature/ Heaven's on the pillow/ as silence competes with hell. . . Because of all we've seen/ because of all we've said/ we are the dead". . . Major Tom, Alladin Sane, and Ziggy Stardust seem to have been replaced by a very frightened (and, of course, still wonderfully androgynous; this is Bowie, after all!) and prophetic character who senses a sort of apocalypse in all of our human actions/deeds/misdeeds. This album was made in 1974, and it remains more than pertinent today, in which we are all terrified of the threat of war and destruction. . . In fact, I was listening to this album while driving around one day, and finding both pro-war and anti-war demonstrators on a street corner, and it could not have been any more appropriate. . . "The Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family" was playing as I drove by the manifestors/protestors, and that moment in time seemed almost frozen. . . I do not know how Bowie feels about what is occuring in our country in regard to the Middle East, but I do find that this album manifests many of the conflicting emotions that we are all feeling at the moment. . . The demo version of "Candidate" on this album strikes me as especially poignant, however. . . shall we "pretend that we are walking home", then?
"Diamond Dogs" is a timeless album. An outstanding album. . . an ineffable one, perhaps? Well, if it were ineffable, should I have said so much on its behalf? Why yes, for it is the creation of David Bowie, and we should at least attempt to put its beauty and power into words. . . Yet no words seem to give it true justice. Give a listen, you'll see what I mean. . . Orwell would/should certainly be proud of Bowie for having transformed his words and his ideology into such magnificent music.
And Bowie should be proud of himself for having transposed a tremendous work of literature into a tremendous work of music.
Do get this album. No words can really do it justice, but, as this is a review in language, I can only employ laudatory adjectives:
It is spectacular.
Do give it a listen.
on December 15, 2002
It should be noted that, since I have not read 1984, I am perhaps less equipped for this than others. I found some things confusing, as I couldn't know what was from the book, what was Bowie's associations and imaginings from the book, and what was plain drug fantasy.
This aside, Diamond Dogs is fabulous. "Future Legend" is an evocative voice over that sets the scene beautifully for the album to come: it's more of a prologue than an opening track. I found the title track a bit repetitive, and not very original sounding--my mother thought I was listening to the Rolling Stones *gasp!*--but not objectionable. "Sweet Thing", "Candidate", and "Sweet Thing (Reprise)" make a beautiful trio, and Bowie soars through a number of characters for these songs. His singing is in top form here. "Rebel Rebel" is just a great jam, and it's both good fun and a break from the heavy atmosphere of the album. "Rock and Roll With Me"is the only track I actally have a problem with. Now, I am fully aware of the quality of this track compared to most of the stuff out there, but come on, David! There is almost nothing to this song, just a decent melody and some weak lyrics. After the first couple of listens, I found myself skipping it. (It's worth noting that this is the only song not entirely written by Bowie, though.) That over, we're back in business. "We Are the Dead"gets back to the book (I assume) and Bowie is in character again. This is a gorgeous song, with real feeling behind it (also true of "Sweet Thing"), and as it builds to its panicked end you find yourself completely immersed in this person's situation. "1984" is one of my favorites (^ - ^) and conveys a certain ironic frenzy ("Beware the savage lure of 1984...Who could ask for more?"). "Big Brother" is a desperate plea for brainwashing:"Someone to claim us--someone to follow/Someone to shame us--some brave apollo/ Someone to fool us--someone like you/We want you Big Brother." This is the voice, not of a rebel or an outsider, but of the main population, who accept and embrace the society of 1984. *coughs apologetically for theory made up out of whole cloth* Ahem. Lastly, "Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family". This is one of those things where I had to just decide to read the book, because otherwise there is no sense involved. The lyrics are indeed a chant--a rock'n'roll chant, but whatever. (^ - ^) It repeats the same few words over and over, until a single syllable is repeated, as on a broken record (except that then this fades out). Reportedly, this was a happy accident, so I shudder to think what might have been. However, it's great as it is.
Overall, "Diamond Dogs" is one of Bowie's most cohesive albums, and it is wonderful. It's probably not the best place to start ("Ziggy Stardust" or "Aladdin Sane" is probably better--though I started with "Station to Station", so you never know), but it's an essential part of any Bowie collection.
on December 26, 2003
Featuring his last glam single, 'Rebel Rebel', and his first funky, 'Diamond Dogs' (which only shot at a UK nr. 22, sadly) this is the very End of Glam Rock. After Diamond Dogs there was nothing more to explore, nothing more to play, which wouldn't get onto a wrong track or lead to self-parody.
Diamond Dogs features some of the darkest and most raw beautiful jewels of this world, especially 'Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)' where especially Candidate stands out as terror, fear and darkness in its cleanest form. 'We Are the Dead' is the other heavy inaccesible but cruel and beautiful genius masterpiece.
'Rock'n'Roll with Me' borrows a 'Let It Be' intro, givin' you nostalgic feelings, makin you switch to the Beatles, untill you get to love Bowies song so much, it's Let It Be who makes you nostalgic.
'1984' stands as a bridge between the 'dark of night' and 'cruel madness-nightmare' of 'We Are the Dead' and 'Candidate', and the brighter 'cruelness and totalitarianism in sunlght' of Big Brother. As strange, but nonetheless wonderful musical jewel.
'Big Brother' and it's outro, 'Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family' are brighter, but just as filled with death and cruelty. Though paradisal riffs in the first track, it is still only a world of eternal night in false sunlight.
on December 7, 2002
Truly one of his most energized and conceptualized works, Diamond Dogs takes us one step further into the perceptual cogs of David's phantasmagoria. Based almost entirely on dismal futuristic images presented in the works of Orwell and Burroughs, the album is a dark, sexually-charged tour through the dilapidated Hunger City, ruled by Halloween Jack high atop Manhatten Chase. It is essentially narrated with some of David's best vocal and lyrical work to date; despite the coke that was increasingly becomming a part of life, he not only nails some excellent guitar work in the Sweet Thing suite alongside Mike Garson's masterful piano playing, but delivers a wham of a performance on Rebel Rebel (yeah, it's overplayed, but irresistible given the right volume).
The album was originally to be titled "We are the Dead", which, if you listen to this track, is understandable. It's one of his best slow-burners to date, and is a perfect bleak roundup to the engrossing narration. I understand that "1984" is a commendable piece for its apparent forward musical thinking, but I just can't say that it melodically comes close to the rest of the album.
Overall, it may not be as approachable an album as Hunky Dory or Ziggy, but once you get into the concepts/music (it took me a few listens), it is a real treat. I'd have to place this among my top four Bowie albums. Hope you enjoy!
on November 6, 2002
You know, I've had this album since it was released back in 1974 and thought, "cool album, man".
But since trying to rebuild an album collection into a cd collection of the same size (currently about 400 cd's vs 900 albums) I am always hesitant about replacing some of the albums I've had with the cd format, whether its due to money or the cd formatting (straight transfer, record company ripoffs vs. digital remastering, the only way to go).
And so it came to be with this version of 'Diamond Dogs' by the master of paranoia induced futuristic tales David Bowie.
Last week I bought the 1999 remastered edition and was taken aback by scope of this particular work. Forget what you may read by Rolling Stone or AMG, this is one Bowie's deepest works. The fact that he was rebuked by Orwell's widow is a moot point. Here Bowie is bridging the gap between the glam era of "Man who sold the World"-"Aladdin Sane" to the 'Plastic Soul' period of "Young Americans" and "Station to Station" without missing a beat. The only missed beat was with the music critics, as it always is.
Listen to the often cited song cycle of 'Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing-reprise' if you don't believe, he was already there. Not the transition album some expert critics would have you believe, the real transition album would have been "Aladdin Sane". Sure you get some bleed through of moments past but this collection isn't built upon the past but pushing forward. I fail to find any music during the 'Thin White Duke' period that has as much soul or energy put into it as the aforementioned songs set of ST/C/ST-R or "We are the Dead", any of which would have been quite at home on either "Young Americans" or "Station to Station".
There are sure fire rockers included within this set as well, with "Rebel Rebel", "Diamond Dogs" and "1984", but personaaly the most overlooked gem on this entire set would have to be the track "Big Brother". The second line of the song even tells the listeners and critics "Don't think of last years capers, give me steel...," but I think the best passage of the song is the acoustic bridge in the middle of the song wherein its almost as if David were talking to his critics and especially his fans, face to face and says:
'I know you think you're awfully square
But you've made everyone and you've been everywhere
Lord I'd think you'd overdose if you knew what's going down'
And then the song slams back into the chorus with the bass and guitar to finish the song and end the collection with the "Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family". An incredible tour through the mind of a truly under appreciated artist in his own time, but isn't that always the s.o.s, Shake it up, move it up, brother!
on May 12, 2002
Every Bowie album has a certain theme, a certain style that's kind of different from all the others. Space Oddity was his breakthrough, there was the Aiggy Stardust era, the Brian Eno period, Scary Monsters and Hours he uses to reminisce about old times, and so on. But what is Diamond Dogs? Inspired by George Orwells 1984, starring the dark hero Halloween Jack, and including the odd hit "Rebel Rebel", there are so many themes you can draw on for this album.
This album was Bowie's first after retiring Ziggy Stardust, but he still retained the famous red hair for the album, probably to help sales along..? Originally meant to be an opera to "1984" Bowie was denied the rights to the novel, and so reworked it to avoid copyright infringement. Still, this album is very operetic in style, the tracks often times flowing together. And it still retains the incredibly dark feel of the classic novel. This is definately one of Bowie's darker, if not darkest, album.
Opening with a startling Narrative, the album hurls you along a ride and doesn't really let up until "Rebel Rebel". Don't get me wrong, I love the song and it is a major hit, but it just seems so incredibly out of place with the rest of the album. "Rock and Roll with me" starts leaning back towards the feel of the album, and by "We are the Dead" you are back again. Hmm, maybe it was meant to keep you from getting to bogged down in it all. Ah well, whatever the intention, the album is just great. I listen to all my Bowie albums straight through, and this is no exception. A classic from start to finish, and not to be missed. Many claim this is a great introduction to Bowie, but I'm not sure. Here's the thing to do with any Bowie album. No matter how much of a fan I am of Bowie, the first time I hear a new album, I don't like it. Knowing this, I listen to it a second time and love it, in fact, the new album is ususally my new favorite. No matter how much you hate any Bowie album at first, listen to it again. And love it.
on April 30, 2000
The cover alone is incredible and fantastic. The background reminds me a bit of a picture of my favourite painter, the surrealist Giorgio De Chirico. The compositions and the structure of the various songs are so uncomparable to anything else that, especially on this record, it becomes very clear what kind of genius Bowie is. His unbelievable, sheer unlimited creativity is perhaps best represented by this masterpiece. It has a some kind of weird magic and a lot of strange aspects, but this makes the whole thing even more fascinating. In terms of a whole conception for an album, this is very likely his best work. This music sounds like if it is coming from a very strange, dangerous and adventurous world, full of weird creatures, but also very real ones. It is highly inspiring to listen to that and it evokes so many pictures - historical and political pictures as well as personal ones. A futuristic fairytale that is amazingly convincing by combining somehow past and future, reality and fiction, microcosmos and macrocosmos. A nightmare that you can become addicted to listen to, yet glad not to have to live inside that world. A weird, acoustic pleasure that drags you away, lifting you up on another level of listening.
More than ten years after I had discovered this extraordinary record for myself, it has not lost a bit of its fascination for me. On the contrary, it becomes in my view even more and more important, since I had the chance to listen to very different types of music and to discover a lot of wonderful artists. But there has never been an album that could fascinate me that much by its general concept. I often wonder what a double album would have sounded like, because Bowie had planned this for a while, but then dropped the idea. Well, this would surely not have been less exciting - with David Bowie at the most interesting stage of his career and at the peak of his creativity.
Summary: This album and "Station to Station" are not only Bowie's best, but the best albums ever produced...
It is a pity though that throughout all the re-issues there was not enough material (bonus tracks) left for a double-release. Does anybody know if the song "The ballad of Ira Hayes" really exists or is it just a rumour?