Today marks the day that would have been David Bowie’s 71st birthday and of course, it’s also the week that he passed away suddenly two years ago. It’s also the Dublin Bowie Festival here in Dublin until the 10th, the anniversary of his death.
‘Let’s Dance’ is one of Bowie’s most enduring songs of his career, and today an early demo of the song was released on stream and downlaod to mark the date and week.
The song was recorded with Nile Rodgers in Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland in late 1982 where Rodgers was living after the Chic man heard the songs that would make up the Let’s Dance album for the first time. The pair enlisted some local musicians to record demos of the songs and Turkish born Erdal Kizilcay, who would later work extensively with Bowie on Labyrinth, The Buddha Of Suburbia & 1.Outside, was recruited to play bass along with an unidentified drummer and second guitarist.
This version of the song was mixed 35 years later by Rodgers and Russell Graham at Nile’s Le Crib Studios in Westport, Connecticut. Rodgers remembers the excitement Bowie had for the first demo.
“I woke up on my first morning in Montreux with David peering over me. He had an acoustic guitar in his hands and exclaimed, ‘Nile, darling, I think this is a HIT!’
This recording was the first indication of what we could do together as I took his ‘folk song’ and arranged it into something that the entire world would soon be dancing to and seemingly has not stopped dancing to for the last 35 years! It became the blue print not only for Let’s Dance the song but for the entire album as well.
Rodgers doesn’t remember who played the second guitar or drums that day.
“The time we spent mixing it just before Christmas was full of tears as it felt like David was in the room with us. Happy Birthday David, I love you and we all miss you!”.
His work as NJ has always been informed by his experience, his record-collecting, his love of synths and electronic music as a culture. A debut album will arrive this year, AFAIK, but until then, Kitt has a song on a new release on Fort Romeau’s Cin Cin label (with Ali Tillett) worthy of our attention.
Cin Cin’s previous release was a split between Romeau and Bezier and features the standout track ‘Korgs’.
As featured on Thump this week, the new release is a split between New Jackson and Elliott Lion, with Jackson’s ‘Electric Blue’, itself uses David Bowie’s lyrics for the largely instrumental ‘Sound And Vision’ from 1977’s Low as a jumping off inspiration point.
It’s a track that allows itself to grow, to seep into you, as some of the best dancefloor music does.
Mother & The Repeal Project: Dance for Choice @ District 8 (10pm, €10/€15) Jenny Greene, Hidden Agenda DJs, Kelly Anne Byrne, Billy Scurry & Sally Cinnamon, Sing Along Social and spoken word with ‘Come Repeal with Us’ from the guys at Come Rhyme with me
An up-to-date selection of music documentaries on Netflix (UK and Ireland) to delve into.
David Bowie: Five Years’
In the year we lost one of the greatest rock stars and artists of our time, this 2013 BBC documentary looks at a five-specific years that were crucial to Bowie’s legacy. It begins in 1971 with his breakthrough, then onto 1975 with his Young Americans record, onto 1977 when he made Low and Heroes in Berlin then onto 1980’s Scary Monsters and 1983’s Let’s Dance, as produced by Nile Rodgers. There’s interviews, talking heads, archive footage, live footage and visual footage galore.
The Art Of Organised Noize’
The Atlanta production trio behind some of rap and R&B’s biggest hits of the ’90s. Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown along with Andre 3000, Puff Daddy, Big Boi, Future and 2Chainz talk about their influence and impact taking in music from Outkast, Goodie Mob, TLC and En Vogue.
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
It’s easy to dismiss dance DJs dunderhead like Steve Aoki right? Huge amounts of money amassed playing dumb stadium EDM shows and throwing cake. Dumb. This documentary gives some genuine insight (though it does feel at times, like Aoki commissioned it) into how a man like Aoki got to where he did. The short-hand: a lot of hard work, and a gruelling tour schedule that means 240 gigs a year or thereabouts (he played the Wright Venue just last week). Aoki started the label Dim Mak off the back off a Tuesday night club night where the likes of Bloc Party and Justice played for free. Aoki was in the right place at the right time – the start of electro-influenced indie-rock, or blog house and he went all in. It worked out pretty well for him and it’s hard to begrudge him after watching this documentary. His relationship with his distant father, a famous wrester and founder of restaurant Benihana, is explored as a main reason for all this and whether that’s true or not it does humanise Aoki as more than a cake-throwing partystarter. The tunes are still shit though.
Janis: Little Girl Blue
The tragic story of Janis Joplin, who was one of the first members of the 27 club. The raw blues singer died the same year as Jimi Hendrix in 1970 and Amy Berg’s documentary, despite the long time that has passed since her overdose, has a raw emotive quality to it. Berg talks to friends and family about her life and what might have been. There’s plenty of footage of Joplin performing and insights into her early troubled life at school in Texas (which she returns to 10 years later at her reunion with cameras). Joplin was a singer who never really found her place in the world. An existing interest in Joplin will help engage viewing. Cat Power narrates.
I Dream of Wires
A documentary exploring the modular synthesizer and its impact on music and culture – tracking its rise in the ’60s to its revival. Interview subjects include Trent Reznor, Gary Numan, Vince Clarke (Erasure), Chris Carter (Throbbing Gristle), Carl Craig and its makers and doers.
A 2015 documentary about gangs in New York with in 1970s. Not a music film per se but hip-hop was a prominent reason for the reduction of violence when gang members swapped guns for breaking and music. The soundtrack also features Run The Jewels, Bun B and Ghostface Killah.
The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir
This film is the story of Weir, the second guitarist with the Grateful Dead. It tells the story of the band and Weir’s relationship with Jerry Garcia, his eventful life and his unique guitar technique. The Grateful Dead are an American curio, not as celebrated on this side of the Atlantic, so if you want to know what the fuss is about, this is a good place to start.
Daft Punk Unchained
The enigmatic stylish French dance duo explored in style via their closest friends and collaborators including Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers, Paul Williams, Giorgio Moroder, Kanye, Michel Gondry and Todd Edwards.
Nas: Time Is Illmatic
The story of Nasir Jones’ as a rapper begins with 1994’s seminal rap album Illmatic. This richly-shot documentary is as much about the album as it American society’s ills that lead to Jones living as a black kid in New York in the Queensbridge housing project.
The Wrecking Crew
The fascinating story of a bunch of session musicians who played on records by the Beach Boys, Cher, Phil Spector, The Mamas and the Papas, Nancy Sinatra, The Byrds. Director Danny Tedesco (whose father was a prominent guitarist) looks at what made the crew so indispensable to the recording era of the ’60s in America. The Wrecking Crew were the unsung heroes in the background of pop hits.
What Happened, Miss Simone?
A documentary exploring one of the best singers of all time Nina Simone. It takes in her life on stage, her involvement in activism (she was closely allied with Martin Luther King), her troubled marriage, her volatile personality and addictions. She was a rare talent and the film leaves you with a mixture of sadness and beauty. Crucial to the documentary is her involvement in the civil movement.
Kurt & Courtney
Nick Broomfield’s documentary released in 1998 was one of the first to explore just how volatile and dangerous the Nirvana musician and the Hole singer were to each other. It takes in the conspiracy theories around Cobain’s death, that Love was involved in some way. The film includes Love’s attempts at censoring the film project with the pair ending up having a public altercation at ACLU when Broomfield gets up to ask her a question.
See also: Broomfield’s Biggie and Tupac, which is also on Netflix.
Searching For Sugarman
A fascinating origin story of a musician called Rodriguez who was unknown to most of the world with the exception of a rabid fan base in South Africa, where he was a huge cultural influence. Rumours that he had set himself on fire on stage, committed suicide or shot himself. Everyone thought he was dead. He wasn’t. This film was a rebirth for the artist who went on to tour the world after this 2012 documentary came out (including Dublin’s Vicar Street).
Shep Gordon was a manager to Alice Cooper, Blondie, Luther Vandross and more. His career began during a a chance encounter in 1968 with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, when Hendrix noting he was Jewish said he should manage. So began a life of music and business, as told in this Mike Myers documentary, which paints him as a likeable decent good guy who receives guests in his nice home and enriches the lives of those he is associated with like Michael Douglas. The film also tells how Gordon helped elevate the idea of the celebrity shef in culture.
Oscar winner Alex Gibney turns his attention to the Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti explores his life on stage and off. In his home of Nigeria he was a political antagoniser, in his music he mixes jazz, highlife and funk like no one else before or since.
Glen Campbell: Let Me Be Me
A documentary looking at what happens when a famous revered musician gets Alzheimer’s. This film accompanies the country music legend (‘Wichita Lineman’, ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’) on his farewell tour after discovering he had the disease. It’s a heartbreaking and moving look at one of the greats.
Last year’s inaugural Dublin Bowie Festival was a celebration of the great man and the festival closes the same night Bowie passed.
This year’s festival will be tinged with much more emotion and take place from Thursday 5th to Tuesday 10th January 2017.
An expanded programme of live music, movie & documentary screenings, Q&A’s, debates & discussions, literary events, fashion, fine art, merch markets, a quiz, a Festival club, illustration, karaoke, DJs and more are expected in venues like Vicar St, The George, Whelans, The Grand Social, The Workmans, The Sugar Club, The Mercantile Hotel, The Opium Rooms and The Liquor Rooms.
Here are some highlights so far:
A Q&A with Lazarus stage show co-author the Tony Award-winning playwright Enda Walsh. The talk will be preceded by a screening of The Man Who Fell To Earth on which Lazarus is based.
Saturday night sees the I *heart * Bowie crew move to The Opium Rooms to reprise their stunning tribute night that occurred in Whelans last January with a host of special guests lined up to perform hits and album classics in their own inimitable styles.
Sunday see Rebel Rebel take over Vicar St (on what would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday) for a greatest hits show par excellence while aftershow goers can continue the fun at The Workman’s Karaoke Bowie special late into the wee hours.
The first anniversary is marked with a special vigil in The Grand Social on Tuesday January 10th as the Bowie Raw crew stage an intimate acoustic show with some very special guests , while also providing a space for those who would like to express their feelings through song and spoken word.
Tomorrow, the Lazarus Cast Album is released featuring David Bowie songs from the show by Enda Walsh. Among them are the final three Bowie studio recordings “No Plan,” “Killing A Little Time,” “When I Met You”.
Adam Buxton was only here a short month ago for the Vodafone Comedy Festival but the comedian and podcast host returns on November 20th in Vicar Street for a special BUG show to celebrate the life of David Bowie.
This show will celebrate David Bowie’s music video and other on-screen appearances.
Tickets priced €28 go on sale this Thursday 15th September at 9am through Ticketmaster.ie & usual outlets nationwide.
Buxton’s recent podcast interview with Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood is a great listen:
Jaakko Eino Kalevi – Everything Nice (feat. Farao) David Bowie – Young Americans The Last Shadow Puppets – Bad Habits Hinds – Fat Calmed Kiddos Sjowgren – Seventeen Frances – Borrowed Time Porches – Be Apart I Am The Cosmos feat Girls Names – Jape I Go remix NZCA LINES – Two Hearts Kendrick Lamar – Untitled 2 Kanye West – Real Friends Toby Kaar – Snapdragon Bad Bones – Beg
Connie Constance – Stars Little Green Cars – The Song They Play Every Night Savages – Adore Grimes – World Princess part II Queen & David Bowie vs Dillon Francis & TEED) – Without Pressure David Bowie – Molta Fame (Anötherevøl Refunked Edit) Yeasayer – I Am Chemistry Steve Mason – Planet Sizes The Natural History Museum – Daga Gadol Fatima Yamaha – Sooty Shearwater, King of Migration Brian Deady – All Star Cast Wet – All the Ways Henry Green – Barcelona David Bowie – Dollar Days (cut off)
Even in death, David Bowie remained an artist. The Starman’s parting gift to the world, we wouldn’t find out for three days, was the release of his 25th album Blackstar, on Friday.
His lifelong producer partner Tony Visconti wrote today: “His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.”
A lush, rich jazz-inspired experimental rock album, it will hereafter be viewed as a poignant closing statement, which is how Bowie intended it to be. The signs were all there – on Blackstar he sings “something happened on the day he died,” On ‘Lazarus’ he sings “look up here, I’m in heaven.” The videos for the tracks point towards a final transformation, in a career defined by them.
On the album track ‘Dollar Days’, the melancholy consumes the song and Bowie hints at explicitly saying what we now know. “I’m dying to / Push their backs against the grain / And fool them all again and again.” That now reads as “I’m dying too.” Bowie was always chasing, always pushing, always seeking. “If I never see the English evergreens I’m running to / It’s nothing to me / It’s nothing to see,” he sings.
When artists release albums close to their death, the “late style” of the release adds extra resonance, as in J Dilla’s Donuts. On Blackstar, Bowie is always aware of his imminent death. He spent 18 months with cancer before he lost, yet he remained in control of his own artistic destiny. Bowie remained a music maverick, the magician who orchestrated his final departure in his art.
With last year’s list-topping To Pimp A Butterfly universally-acclaimed as one of the albums of 2015, Lamar is showing us there’s much more to come. 2016 will see a lot more live shows around the world from the Compton rapper, yet he’s already showing us he’s not content to rest. In an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night talk show last week, Lamar debuted an untitled new song.
The jazz-lead rap style from TPAB is in effect, but there’s a searing energy in Lamar’s delivery, as he weaves an unstructured freestyle rap that feels like it could go anywhere at any time and in its five minute running time he talks of his career, his fear of the police, a black woman’s life choices, desire, his inspirational time in South Africa, his money-enriched life and his community. By the time, his raspy voice is intensely bellowing “You ain’t gotta tell me that I’m the one / Yes, I am the one,”, there’s little doubt that Lamar is a rapper at the top of his craft and only improving.
Despite the rise of Spotify and streaming services, The music video continues to dominate in terms of artist marketing due to the domination of Youtube, the major label’s push of Vevo and the independent artists making cracking videos on small budgets released through Vimeo. Music videos are still hugely effective for establishing an artist’s brand. For this list, I kept that in mind, while also representing the videos for songs that either I loved or liked previously, or videos that lifted or introduced a song to me. The power of a good idea and great execution is what is celebrated here.
Kendrick Lamar performing on Late Show with Stpehen Colbert
Lamar and his band played a To Pimp A Butterfly medley (or “The Very Horny Caterpillar” as Colbert called it) on the second episode of Stephen Colbert’s tenure at Late Show filling in permanently the big boots of Dave Letterman. It was a powerhouse of a performance, featuring the tracks ‘Wesley’s Theory’, ‘Momma’, ‘King Kunta’ and ‘u’ and performed with a tight band that includes Anna Wise, Bilal and Thundercat. Proof that Kendrick pushed his music and himself as much as possible this year.
What better way for Missy to return that with a kickass dance video?
19. Sleep Thieves – ‘You Want The Night’
Directed by Mike P. Nelson
A brilliant collection of horror-mongering imagery to suit a foreboding song.
18. Major Lazer & DJ Snake – ‘Lean On’ (feat. MØ)
Video by: Tim Erem
MØ’s limber dance moves and the lads attempt at doing what the professionals do is a right laugh. More than anything though, the video and the dancing suited the song down to the ground.
17. Charli XCX – ‘Famous’
Video by: Eric Wareheim
Charli XCX’s saccharine bright pop is counteracted by Eric Wareheim’s warped mind which infects the neon space of the music video with ideas about the negativity of our reliance on our social media feeds, mobile devices and vanity.
The right BBQ playlist serves as a background moodsetter while also conjuring up a nostalgic mood that works its way between the hiss of the barbeque, friendly chatter and blue skies. I kept this one old school. Combine with m recent Summer Jams playlist and an extra dollop of ketchup.
If you’re going to make it in pop, you better have a good hairdresser. Just ask Brian May, Gene Simmons, Aretha Franklin, Busta Rhymes and Stevie Nicks. Here are ten of my favourite hair icons in music. Check out the Irish Independent’s Insider Magazine today for this week’s list of Summer Jams.