Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – The Thin White Duke Looks Sharp!

Cam Profile Pic

Before we rewind to a couple of record reviews in the New Music Magazine circa 1978/9, something a little more modern. By this time next week many of us will be knee-deep in the 33rd annual Canadian Music Week. From its start as the David Farrell run “Record Conference” the Neill Dixon show is a massive multi-format event which touches all aspects of the industry, but, more importantly, is a huge social gathering of old friends from around the world.

CMW

Clubs will rock late into the morning, new bands will be discovered, Music Nova Scotia will host its legendary Tiki Party and, as always, the lobby bar will be the epicentre of what was once known as the record industry. New bar this year, The Sheraton on Queen, but the faces will all be familiar. Good times await.

BellwoodsOne of the bands we manage, Bellwoods, will be performing at The Horseshoe Tavern on Saturday May 9th at 9 PM. The boys just got back from their Western Canadian tour riding high on the success of their hit single “Live It Up” and are putting the final touches on their debut album which will be released by Neighbourhood Records, the new pop label from the folks that brought you Open Road Recordings, later this year.

A quick ten minute walk from the Sheraton will take you to the Analogue Gallery (673 Queen Street West) where my old friend (and New Music Magazine photographer) Patrick Harbron will be featured in the “Women In Rock” shows which will be in the gallery until June 14th. You can check out some of the incredible work, and learn more about the gallery HERE.

This review featured one of Patrick’s great David Bowie shots when first published in The New Music Magazine back in December of 1978.

David Bowie “Stage” – An Image Becomes A Reality

Bowie Stage

I’m glad that someone had the ingenuity to record Bowie’s last tour. Stage, if history dares to repeat itself, will represent another turning point in Bowie’s career. Bowie should change again. Whenever he changes he manages to create a new character more vital and refreshing than the one before. If Bowie’s last tour and the Stage album are any indication of the direction in which he is going, I think you can expect to hear David Bowie as David Bowie.

ZiggyWhen you listen to this album you get a feeling that you know who David Bowie is. No longer is he the image carved in greasepaint and on vinyl; he is a person. Bowie too has realised this and the result is a live album that is full of life and a treat to any Bowie fan; the fan who stills craves Ziggy Stardust, the disco-ers who fell in love with Fame, and the new fans of the Heroes era. There is something for everybody.

Side One, Record One goes back to the Ziggy Stardust days, and it’s about time! Seventy-five per cent of Bowie’s fans still want to hear this stuff. Most of them got turned on to him by that album.

On the first side you hear exciting renditions of Hang On To Yourself, Ziggy Stardust, Five Years, Soul Love and Star.

Side Two, Record One, is a compromise. Bowie plays material such as Station to Station, Fame and TVC 15, and this seems to be out of both need and want. He knows that these songs are favourites that fans want to hear, yet at the same time they are new enough that Bowie can still feel comfortable playing them. A fair compromise.

Record Two belongs to Bowie. It was evident on the last tour that Bowie was happiest when he was playing material from the Low and Heroes albums. Whether you like it or not that is where the man is at today. Many will neglect these two sides while the Ziggy side will be completely worn out, but a real Bowie fan will try to appreciate what he is doing now. After a while it will become clear that these two sides are musically superior to the rest of the album.

Side One, Record Two contains Warszawa, Speed of Life, Art Decade, Sense of Doubt, and Breaking Glass. The second side of Record Two features Heroes, What In The World, Blackout and Beauty And The Beast.

Where will Bowie go next? Does Stage signify an end of an era? David Live showed a new Bowie on stage and his next album Young Americans was a different Bowie again. Stage can do the same thing.

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Joe Jackson Look Sharp! – As Sharp As They Come

look sharp

I have this gut feeling that Joe Jackson and his debut album Look Sharp! are going to be shuffled off as a couple of Elvis Costello imitators. It is true some of the stuff on Look Sharp! sounds Costello-ish, but to pass it off as a cheap copy would be a gross injustice to Jackson.

Both Costello and Jackson have created/re-created a sound, lined it, and defined it, but in Costello’s case he has also refined it. Jackson, on the other hand, just goes right ahead and plays his music and doesn’t seem to worry about refinement.

jackson is she reallyOne of the major reasons for the raw sound on Look Sharp! lies in the fact that none if the instruments were over-dubbed. This means that the raging guitar you hear on songs like One More Time and Throw It Away are coming straight from the guitarist’s hands and not some studio engineer.

Jackson have covered the whole spectrum of the sound wave on Look Sharp!; you know, pop’n’roll? There are good pop-rockers like Baby Stick Around and Got The Time, the reggae-ish sounds of Look Sharp! and Fools In Love, and the straight pop of Pretty Girls and Is She Really Going Out With Him?

This is a brilliant debut album. Now you can become the hippest person on your block if you race out right now and pick up Look Sharp! Then at your next party slip it on the turntable and stand back. You’ll look sharp too.

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I am hoping some of my out of town friends will drop by The Kensington Lodge next Wednesday night. I will pour them a beer and spin them a tune. Come on by before or after a show at The Supermarket or any other of the fine clubs in the Kensington area.

=CC=

Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, and New Canadian Music.

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