Pretty Holy

Crash Course for the Ravers

Before I leave the glam era in the glitter dust, time to catch up with the non-album singles and prominent alternate versions. Since I’ve listened the heck out of some of these already, this list isn’t exhaustive, but it is based on Bowie’s singles discography (a user-friendly version here) plus, of course, the necessary Hoople.

‘The Prettiest Star’ single version, March 1970

Listening to this from the perspective of four years later, what really strikes me is how little and sweet Bowie’s voice is – not yet, or at any rate not, the self-aggrandizing superstar rant. Also, of course, this was released just a couple of weeks before Bowie married its subject, Angie. Lovely.

‘Conversation Piece,’ March 1970
One of Bowie’s great little character sketches. Reminds me a bit of a rough draft for ‘Quicksand.’

‘Holy Holy,’ January 1971 etc.
Which tip jar gets your coin: the initial laid-back single, or the Ziggy-style remake? Personally I was yawnsville on the first and out on the floor with the second.

‘Moonage Daydream’ and ‘Hang On to Yourself’, May 1971; ‘Man in the Middle,’ August 1972
Ah, Arnold Corns: Ziggy Sorefoot, we might call them. No tigers or Vaseline here – it’s David Bowie as his own pub cover band, just before he got Spidered into fabulousness.

‘John, I’m Only Dancing,’ September 1972


‘Velvet Goldmine,’ recorded November 1971, though not released until 1975
The Stardust missing link is good fun even if it’s not actually about gay sex, darnit. Must make do with Ewan McGregor.

‘Round and Round,’ April 1973
Naturally I’m tickled by this one because it goes back to Bowie’s roots in the British blues/R&B boom. Or, as John Lennon so memorably said, if you had to call rock & roll by another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.

‘Port of Amsterdam’ (or just plain ‘Amsterdam’), September 1973
Remember back when Bowie wanted to be Jacques Brel? So did he, apparently.

Dude! Sweet!

and, even better,

Here’s the full playlist if you want a whip-through.

Next: Putting on the Dog.

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