December 12, 2010


It's Space Camp week on Spy Vibe! As I busy myself with end-of-term grading and holiday plans, I thought it would be fun to look at quick and campy snapshots of some of the classic space-age moments in 1960s entertainment. It's been a David Bowie fest here at the Spy Vibe lair over the past month. As you might expect, the go-to albums were the Berlin Wall trilogy that he made in the mid-late 1970s with Brian Eno (Heroes, Low, Lodger). But I found myself really enjoying his early recordings this weekend. Bowie started out in a few modish blues bands inspired by Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. But the first recordings (see David Bowie, Deram Anthology), were pure pop cabaret. His 1967 recording Love You Till Tuesday became the title track for a 1969 TV special. The show would also see the serendipitous release performance of Space Oddity close to the Apollo 11 moon landing. This first video/mix for the song (a rather low-budget bit of space-age camp that biographer Marc Spitz rightly links to "Barbarella over Kubrick") was followed with a revised video/mix during his Ziggy era.

Bowie's space connection would continue, of course, with his Ziggy alter-ego, songs like Starman and Moonage Daydream, and his lead role-as-alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976/movie still above). Space Oddity's 'Major Tom' would re-appear in the songs Ashes to Ashes and Hallo Spaceboy. Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, has continued the family motif with his excellent feature film debut, Moon (2009). It's time to re-explore David Bowie. Suggested listening: David Bowie, *Hunky Dory, Low, Heroes, Lodger, Storytellers, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Outside. Spy Vibers can also re-mix Bowie's Space Oddity, which you can find as an app in the iTunes app store.

Recommended reading: Bowie, a Biography by music journalist, Marc Spitz. I'm reading the kindle edition now! Marc's website here. Review of the upcoming archive-book about Bowie's early years, Any Day Now, here.

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