My entire life, David Bowie has always been there. Which is why it’s always been so easy take him for granted and just assume he’s great, without ever really finding out why. I dipped my toes into the Bowie well with Hunky Dory and discovered, that it “more than deliver[ed] on the Bowie legend.” So my first active Bowie listen was a success. But that was a year ago, and as much as I seemingly dug Bowie then, I hadn’t felt compelled to listen to anymore since. So here we go with Bowie experiment 2.0, Diamond Dogs.
I’m sure it was cool at the time, but listening to it with modern ears, the campy, spoken word Future Legend sounds like the kind of thing that would be in a sketch now, making fun of how camp 70s David Bowie could be. But it’s only a short piece of nonessential indulgence before the title track kicks in with it’s perfect 70s pop/rockery. Aaah, the 70s, a time when riffing guitars, pop vocals, rock grooves and sexy sax could all live together in perfect harmony.
It’s time for some rock musical-style bombast on Sweet Thing. And that kind of sound is made for Bowie’s voice, Bowie’s bravado, and Bowie’s overall vibe. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve heard Rebel Rebel a million times, but it stands out as a little more timeless than the rest of Diamond Dogs. Not to say the rest sounds dated in bad way. It sounds like the 70s in awesome way. But Rebel Rebel sounds like it could be played on the radio today… Probably because it is still played pretty regularly on the radio today.
Soaring and impassioned and loose and jangled, Rock ‘n Roll With Me is more raw and driving than anything any white Englishman should ever be able to produce. Which makes it the perfectly juxtaposed partner for the tragic, ballad gone bad nature of We Are the Dead. These two songs couldn’t be any more different, but they work so well as two sides of the Diamond Dogs coin.
With the back to back 1984 and Big Brother, the Orwellian connection had me expecting some real darkness. Instead, the former gave me groovy disco, while the latter sounds like some sort of space western. Like a John Ford and George Lucas collaborated in 1982. That slightly goofy sound actually works here, making for two of the most enjoyable tracks on Diamond Dogs.
Diamond Dogs didn’t hit me as hard as Hunky Dory. But I don’t thinks that’s because one album is better or worse the other. I think it’s more because I had a lot less context and less expectations with Hunky Dory. That record meant my expectations were unavoidably a lot higher for Diamond Dogs. So while it may not have had the same impact, I still think I like and respect at least just as much.