Record of the Day: David Bowie, "Diamond Dogs"

Record of the Day: David Bowie, “Diamond Dogs”

David Bowie
Diamond Dogs (Cd EMI 724352190409)

Bowie is a diamond with many faces, pointing out just one album doesn't do justice to his multi-faceted personality.
A curious and courageous musician, he has never hesitated to alienate his established fan base to venture in different directions
always different, often disconcerting for those who had followed him previously, twirling from the glam-rock of “Ziggy Stardust” to the electronica of the Berlin period of “Low” and “Heroes”, from the plastic soul of “Young Americans” to the trash metal of “Tin Machine”.

Personally, “Diamond Dogs” has always been my favorite album of all, thanks to an always high level of composition which, from the initial howl of “Future Legend”, imposes itself with impressive energy.

Initially “Diamond Dogs” was supposed to be a rock transposition of the book “1984” by George Orwell but the writer's widow denied the rights to Bowie and the project remained unfinished; nevertheless, a heavy cloak of apocalyptic fog hovers over the entire album, where we talk about cities now destroyed, disappeared populations with a few crippled survivors who wander around on all fours chased and massacred by ferocious dogs, teenagers who commit suicide in the river after stuffing themselves of drugs, fleas the size of mice that suck the blood of mice the size of cats, presidential candidates who
they use their power to obtain sexual favors, and so on. Everything is dead or dying, the planet gives off a constant smell of putrefaction and its inhabitants, under the omnipresent eye of Big Brother, prefer to stun themselves with music, drugs and sex before annihilating themselves without any hope of future life.

The music is strongly linked to the world of rock, with homages to the Stones and T-Rex (“Diamond Dogs”, “Rebel Rebel”), dark and mysterious ballads (“Sweet Thing”, “We Are the Dead”, “Big Brother”) full of distorted and dark sounds where Bowie's estranged vocality reaches moments of great effectiveness while the elaborate arrangements, with livid and dense colors, underline the epic dimension of the songs.

“Diamond Dogs” seems to be Bowie's farewell (at least temporarily) to the world of rock that he had successfully frequented in “Pin-Ups” and “Aladdin Sane”; in the distance we can glimpse the arrival of the White Duke of “Station to Station”, whose train will take the British artist towards completely different musical shores.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.