Popular opinion would have you believe ‘Young Americans’ was a calculated attempt by Bowie to attract the attention of, a so far, apathetic American audience by dropping the glam rags and reinventing himelf as a seventies soul boy. Realistically it was more of a revert to type. Ziggy only lasted 18 months, and snappily suited dance fan rather than outsider-outfits has been Bowie’s default career setting (Mod, Young Americans, The Thin White Duke, Lets Dance, Tin Machine…).
Dig a little deeper and you’ll also find he’d started dabbling with Disco a year earlier – alongside pet projects and helping hands for Lou Reed, Iggy and The Stooges, Mott The Hoople during 1973, Bowie had also found time to write and produce one full album ‘People From Good Homes‘ (recognise that line from a later song) for his backing vocalists The Astronettes which was dressed in a disco trim…
During the Young Americans sessions, Luthor Vandross (in pink above and blue below) had become an almost honorary member of the Astronettes – joining them at recording sessions, and for an appearance on the Dick Cavett show
During his Dick Cavett set, Bowie also covered The Flares ‘Footstompin’, which had been given a seventies style re-riffing by Carlos Alomar. A riff, which one month later became worked up into ‘Fame’ by Bowie and Lennon (with Alomar getting a composer credit for his contribution).
Bowie – Foot Stompin
As well as having a magpie’s eye for bright ideas and what’s hot – Bowie also clonked out some cracking compositions of his own – an unreleased original being…
I will get the Bowie-handbrake on soon, it’s just that I’ve been ploughing through the Tony Visconti biog‘ this week, and have just hit the ‘Young Americans’ chapter you see.
However, if you fancy more Bowie business an excellent companion to his mid-seventies period is the excellent Golden Years website