Revisiting David Bowie’s 1973 “Pin Ups”

Bowie’s very own homage to the 1960’s British Rock

Revisiting David Bowie’s 1973 “Pin Ups”

Today tribute albums are common and there are countless, through independent labels or major labels, over the years the tribute and covers albums have in some cases became as important and relevant as an album of originals. But on October 19, 1973, David Bowie at the height of his success and popularity as Ziggy Stardust releases one of the first and best tribute albums ever, “Pin Ups”. In between “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, “Aladdin Sane” and “Diamond Dogs”, Bowie puts his own signature on reinventing several 1960’s British Rock songs from artists such as The Who, Them, Pink Floyd, The Kinks and The Yardbirds among others. The selection is fantastic, and the songs, mold perfectly into Bowie’s style, making “Pin Ups” not just another tribute or covers album, it’s actually as important as any of Bowie’s most acclaimed ones. Songs such as “Here Comes the Night”, “See Emily Play”, “I Can’t Explain”, “Sorrow”, “Shapes of Things” and “Where Have All the Good Times Gone”, suddenly gain a new and refreshing life during those early years of the 1970’s where all things 60’s seemed to have been left forgotten in an already distant past. Other songs thought to be included on the album were the Rolling Stones “Let’s Spend The Night Together”, which Bowie decided to include instead on “Aladdin Sane” and “White Light/White Heat” originally by the Velvet Underground and that Bowie end up donating (the backing track) to Mick Ronson for his 1975 album “Play Don’t Worry”. One of the motives was the fact that Bowie had decided to keep “PinUps” an album of British Rock covers (despite bands like The Easybeats covered on “Friday On My Mind” being Australian) and planned to do a sequel, to be called “Bowie-ing Out” with covers from his favorite American artists only, which never happened. Originally “Pin Ups” concept would include an original track and mainly directed to American audiences who weren’t too familiar with some of the songs or artists covered on it, but that idea was dropped. Over the years, Bowie kept the idea of doing a “PinUps” sequel, but never happened and some of the covers he did over the years end up loosely on some of his albums including “Heathen” and “Reality”. “Pin Ups” featured a hit song for David Bowie, “Sorrow”, originally by The Merseys, and his version reinvented the song so well that to this day some still think of it as a Bowie original. Always a creative musician and composer, Bowie was also a music fan, an eclectic record collector that never forgot the bands who inspired and influenced him, an album like “Pin Ups” was his way to say thank you tho those artists after his career finally took off in the early 1970’s. On the On the liner notes of the album, Bowie wrote: “These songs are among my favourites from the ’64–67′ period of London. / Most of the groups were playing the Ricky-Tick (was it a ‘y’ or an ‘i’?) -Scene club circuit (Marquee, eel pie island la-la). / Some are still with us. / Pretty Things, Them, Yardbirds, Syd’s Pink Floyd, Mojos, Who, Easybeats, Merseys, The Kinks. / Love-on ya!”



In 1990, after being reissued on CD, two bonus tracks were added to “Pin Ups”, “Growin’ Up” originally by Bruce Springsteen and “Port of Amsterdam” originally by Jacques Brel, but it’s the original 1973 release that remains perfect on it’s line up, the ultimate 1960’s mixtape performed by Bowie.

Notes on the album art

The iconic cover art of “Pin Ups”, featuring Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust persona with 1960’s British supermodel Twiggy, was taken by her then-manager Justin de Villeneuve, shot in Paris for Vogue magazine, but at Bowie’s request was used for the album instead.



Side 1
1 “Rosalyn” (Originally recorded by The Pretty Things) Jimmy Duncan, Bill Farley
2 “Here Comes the Night” (Notably recorded by Them) Bert Berns
3 “I Wish You Would” (Notably recorded by The Yardbirds) Billy Boy Arnold
4 “See Emily Play” (Originally recorded by Pink Floyd) Syd Barrett
5 “Everything’s Alright” (Originally recorded by The Mojos) Nicky Crouch, John Konrad, Simon Stavely, Stuart James, Keith Karlson
6 “I Can’t Explain” (Originally recorded by The Who) Pete Townshend

Side 2
7 “Friday on My Mind” (Originally recorded by The Easybeats) George Young, Harry Vanda
8 “Sorrow” (Notably recorded by The Merseys) Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, Richard Gottehrer
9 “Don’t Bring Me Down” (Originally recorded by The Pretty Things) Johnnie Dee
10 “Shapes of Things” (Originally recorded by The Yardbirds) Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty, Keith Relf
11 “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” (Originally recorded by The Who) Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend
12 “Where Have All the Good Times Gone” (Originally recorded by The Kinks) Ray Davies

Personnel:
David Bowie: vocals, guitar, tenor and alto saxophone, harmonica, arrangements, backing vocals, Moog synthesiser
Mick Ronson: guitar, piano, vocals, arrangements
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Aynsley Dunbar: drums

Additional personnel
Mike Garson: piano, organ, harpsichord, electric piano
Ken Fordham: baritone saxophone
G.A. MacCormack: backing vocals
Ron Wood: guitar on “Growin’ Up”

Recorded during: 8 July – August 1973 at Studio Château d’Hérouville, Hérouville, France
Produced by: Ken Scott, David Bowie
Release Date: 19 October 1973
Label: RCA

Singles:
“Sorrow” Released: 28 September 1973

Strongest tracks:

“Rosalyn”, “Here Comes the Night”, “See Emily Play”, “I Can’t Explain” , “Friday on My Mind”, “Sorrow”, “Shapes of Things”, “Where Have All the Good Times Gone”



Watch the 1973 music video “Sorrow” by David Bowie (featuring the special appearance of model, famous groupie and disco diva Amanda Lear)



Listen to “Pin Ups” on Spotify

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