Funky Friday – A Crash Course For The Ravers

“Your flashy clothes are your pride and joy ” David Bowie – The London Boys

Bowie, Bolan, Bryan Ferry, Eno (and Rod Stewart) all made the breakthough from cult undergrounders to interstellar superstars as variants on the star-spangled glitterkid theme. They may have had stars in/on their eyes, but those platform boots were firmly grounded in Mod roots. The look sharp and look ahead apprenticeship of Mod, with it’s made to measure mix of American soul and Italian style, Ivy League look meets British dandyism – and an eye for the detail and an ear for a tune, was probably why Bowie (and the other moonage mods mentioned) endured beyond the best-before date and lipstick-brickie chic of their patent leather peers.

The sixties scene was an era Bowie referenced from his earliest recordings (London Boys) and one of the motifs and influences that’s remained a constant throughout his peacock career – mentions of Lennon, Beatles and Stones on various singles. Twiggy and Jagger getting name checked on Aladdin Sane (along with a Stones cover), Pin Up’s set of swinging London standards and Young Americans (covering classics like ‘Knock On Wood’ and ‘Footstomping’ during live shows), and pitching in with ‘Pictures of Lily’ on The Who tribute album through to the slim-fit suit on ‘Reality’ being almost a homecoming to the Lord John look pictured above…

David Bowie and The Lower ThirdCan’t Help Thinking About Me

(There’s a clip of Bowie on his mod days, Steve Marriot and a 1999 version of ‘CHTAM’here)

David BowieIn The Heat Of The Morning – (BBC version)

(The Last Shadow Puppets made a healthy go of ‘INTHOTM’)

Davie Jones and the King Bees
Louie Louie Go Home

(LLGH was the B-side of Bowie’s first single “Liza Jane”)

Ziggy Stardust – The Mod Who Fell To Earth

A note on the tunes….and a Bowie Bonus

Can’t Help Thinking About Me (1965)

The first recording to feature the newly named David ‘Bowie’, and almost a blueprint of Bowieness the outsider lyrics and ambiguous angst of “my head’s bowed in shame” “blackened the family name” to the set piece template of semi-spoken verse and Bowie-bellow on the chorus, it’s a tune that wouldn’t seem out of place on any album since Scary Monsters.

In The Heat Of The Morning (1970)
For my earth pounds the BBC take of this tune is superior to the official album version, and benefits from being enhanced by the extra bounce of Alan Hawkshaw’s fantastically funky keyboard coda.

The Beatstalkers (touted as the Scottish Beatles), were under Ken Pitt’s management at the same time as Bowie (and also signed to Decca). They were offered first refusal on any unused Bowie compositions or offcuts, ‘Silver Tree Top School For Boys’ is one of these, and Bowie penned ‘Penny Lane-alike‘ from 1967.

The Beatstalkers (1967)- Silver Tree Top School For Boys

I am on something of a Bowie buzz lately (two Bo’ posts in two weeks) brought on by reading the Fantistico Dave Thompson book To Major Tom – a gem and a joy of a read if you’re into any type of music or movement from Bowie’s catchment era


17 Responses to “Funky Friday – A Crash Course For The Ravers”

  1. bitterandrew Says:

    Amazing. Simply amazing.

    Every new Funky Friday installment raises the bar, and I wonder how long it will be before I suffer an overdose of music blogging majesty.

  2. I must acknowledge dear Mond that the phrase ‘lipstick-brickie chic’ is worth a plaudit on its own. Are they putting something in the water over at yours?

  3. Great little piece. I’m no stranger to these tunes obviously; I think I’ve posted can’t help thinking about three times this year, if you include the Purple Hearts version. One of my all time favourite songs, certainly my favourite Bowie tune. Absolutely classic mod pop!

  4. Planet Mondo Says:

    Thanks all, I’m off with a touch of flu pour homme at the mo’ so your comments are a great comfort.

    This bit could have easily been three times as long with some of the nuggets I’ve dug out inspired by ‘To Major Tom’, and other Bowie books I’ve been tearing through while in my sick bed (but expect to see them at some point)..The Visconti bio’s due for delivery today, which has to be the follow on read to a Bowie book doesn’t it.

  5. The Visconti book is pretty good; I bought that for a friend of mine who is a huge Bowie fan on his birthday last year. Worth a read, if only as a companion piece to anything else on Bowie.

  6. Oh I can see that you have ‘plunged’ regarding Bowie!!!

  7. Wow! This was awesome. I loved it. I’ve always been a big fan of the mod scene. The fashion, the music, etc. were so cool. Bowie is one of my gods. I’ve loved his music since I can remember. Great tunes you posted. It’s definitely good to be on a Bowie kick. I might have to break out my Bowie albums and give them a listen this weekend. Hope you’re feeling better. Have a great weekend.

  8. Planet Mondo Says:

    Simon – I’m on real buzz for it, as sometimes the official or unofficial Bowie books (and I’ve read most of them), tend to be too reverential or sensational – sometimes it’s the offstage takes that are most revealing – a bit like 77 Sulphate Strip was to punk.

    Col, Keith – always been a big Bowie fan, but I sort of drifted off for a bit – The Major Tom book has jump started me into it again – and after a few years of not playing the classic period material – it sounds better/fresher than ever..

  9. marmiteboy Says:

    I haven’t listened to Bowie for years. For some reason he just slipped off my radar. These however are great. I love the Tony Newley like vocals. A great mod classic.

  10. rockmother Says:

    Fantastic flu-ridden writing Monsieur. I can never get enough of Bowie – I listen to him a lot. Great post Mondo. Get better soon. x

  11. smashin collection here Mondo, you really gone to town eh?

    i saw Bowie do ICHTAM when i saw him live at the astoria (prob was about the same time as that clip). I couldn’t believe that he did that song, such a great track, but until then he always seemed to dis-own his early mod\Newley stuff.

    Remember when he was doing that ‘farewell’ tour of the hits (Sound and Vision tour… 90??), he did a phone vote in each country and said he’d do the top 2o in each location. Word was that the Laughing Gnome pissed it to the top in England (largely due to a NME campaign) but needless to say it never made it. Funny enough, the set list seemed amazingly similar at just about ever gig, so i reckon the phone vote was a swiz!!

    Great post mate.


  12. Planet Mondo Says:

    MB – just mailed you a couple of extra nuggets – be firing them your way in a mo’ RM.

    There was mention of the Laughing Gnome stitch story in ‘To Major Tom’ P, but yeah ICHTAM is a scorcher and sounds so contemporary hard to believe it’s almost a 45 year old tune..I’ll be loading a few more Bowie related Cyberspace Oddities in the blog soonish…

  13. dickvandyke Says:

    Great work .. for a snotty poorly boy.


  14. Ubu Bowie & The Mod-ern Dance. Cool.

  15. the whole thing about mod being always looking for something new that nobody else had is too often lost in a desperate dash for hush puppies and that funny small faces hairdo so maybe bowie’s been a mod all along ?

  16. Planet Mondo Says:

    Thanks DVD, IB – and you’re right Ally, I think intentionally or unintentionally Bowie’s never lost his modness and has always defaulted to dandyness or sharp suits – he even covered Waterloo Sunset on his last album (watch out for that one later).

  17. Plasticsun Says:

    You are right, the BBC version of Heat of the Morning is far superior – I'd only heard the other version (& Last Shadow Puppets version too. thanks for posting it

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