Thursday, January 27, 2011

Boys Keep Swinging / Absolute Beginners

hey everyone

well, if for me any old Bowie release is a must-buy, then a Bowie related release for a very good cause was always going to end up in my collection.

whereas Mr Bowie is notoriously protective of his impressive catalogue of songs, he is equally open in his support of the charity trust War Child. he then had no hesitation in giving his blessing and writing off any legal costs or concerns for the production of the album We Were So Turned On, a double album of covers with all funds going to War Child.

as a taster for the album, a limited edition 7" single was produced. and when i say limited, i mean the original run was 1000 copies worldwide. by some good fortune, i am one of the 1000 whose attempts to order it was successful.

now then, charity records have a bit of a hit and miss affair - sometimes, no matter how noble or worthwhile the cause, the records released for them in some instances hover around "average" at best. i am delighted to report that, for giving money to War Child, you get two exceptional, amazing songs.

the "A" side of the single is given to well known Bowie worshippers Duran Duran, who present for your pleasure a cover of Boys Keep Swinging.

considering their underwhelming previous attempt at a Bowie song, Fame, i was wary of this one. no need for fear, however, as this is a brilliant yet bonkers cover.

although produced by the band themselves, it's clear that the influence of their recent experimental work with Mark Ronson lingers in their minds. the sound is very much "hey, let's pretend we are in the 70s, but have all this new equipment and try and imagine what sound we would make then trying to imagine how it would sound now". a very "futuristic nostalgia" sound, if you will, with either John Taylor or possibly Nick Rhodes on a synth banging the absolute hell out of a button called "Mr Bass".

on the "B" side there's Carla Bruni with a cover of Absolute Beginners. those of you familiar with the press coverage of this, hold on, will address that just now.

Absolute Beginners comes from Bowie's "difficult" mid-80s period, where for the life of him he seemed unable to produce a quality album, yet released some amazing songs (like this one) for film soundtracks.

let me put it as bluntly as i can - this stripped down, piano and vocals only version of Absolute Beginners is one of the best songs i have ever heard. and i have heard a lot of songs. it is an interpretation that sits on your mind for a very long time after hearing it and, at least for me and my good lady wife, you do wish to hear it often. there's a casual innocence to the vocals - perfect for the lyrics - which is as haunting as it is beautiful.

some of you may have read or heard the criticism of this particular version, which you can read about by clicking here if you must. i find myself, oddly, disgusted with the comments being made. if these are genuine critical responses, then they are from music critics who clearly don't know their a**e from their elbow and are not ashamed of it. most likely, however, is that a number of these reviews are, for obvious reasons, loaded with an ill-advised attempt at some sort of political comment. if it's that intelligent, perhaps they are just written on those horrid keyboards of malice, jealousy and spite. ignore the rubbish being written, give this recording a try.

now then, making my one of one thousand copies of this single all the more special is that, by sheer luck alone, i am the proud owner of one of the three hundred copies to be pressed on a marble pink vinyl!

wow! needless to say, this is the number one record in my collection at the moment!

whereas i doubt you will get the pretty pink version i have, the magnificent online store Record Store has got some stock of a "2011 re-press" of the single. they ship worldwide, and all proceeds go to War Child. here is the link to order your copy.

failing that, and i know many of you can't play 7" singles any more, clicking here will take you to the place to purchase the We Were So Turned On 2 CD set, featuring these two songs and many, many more. there are downloads of the album to buy too, but please make sure you use reliable sites.

and finally, if you have no interest at all in these or any other Bowie covers, please at the least visit the War Child site and see the many ways in which you can help and support them.
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