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Monday, 22 September 2008

Cover track #7

There are a million Rolling Stone covers out there but most aren't worth your effort. There's something about the Stones and their catalogue that seems to encourage coverers to think that a few vocal snarls and some slide guitar will do them justice. So it's nice to remember that some artists have given them the respect and interpretation that their songs deserve, and this cover comes courtesy of one of the best artists out there.

David Bowie's Aladdin Sane album came out in 1973 and was his last album under the Ziggy Stardust name. It was also the follow up album to The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust, his first bona fide hit album. Aladdin Sane was made with all the glam rock bells and whistles on that you'd expect from an early 70s Bowie long player, and the B side featured a sublimely spot on glam cover of the Rolling Stones' 1967 single Let's Spend The Night Together.

A little about the original - its sexually suggestive lyrics caused a bit of a stink upon its release. It came out as a single with Ruby Tuesday as the B-side and part of Ruby Tuesday's fame as a track came about only because radio stations opted to play it instead of the A-side because of the risque content of Let's Spend The Night Together. Chat show host Ed Sullivan told Jagger to change the lyrics to "let's spend some time together" to secure the band's performance on his show, the old grump.

Looking at covers a lot, as I do, they actually don't feature on regular studio albums as much as you'd think, which in itself adds to that feeling of a cover being something special. So when an artist does put one on an album it's always worth taking a good look at what made it special enough for the artist to weave it in to their own original material.

So back to Bowie. Mick Ronson's clattering piano is the highlight, especially at 2 minutes 28 seconds when the track breaks down to the sound of some off-key piano plink-plonking, before Bowie shouts "Do it!" to kick off the song's last glorious fifteen second hurrah. It definitely deserves its place on Aladdin Sane (which admittedly has traditionally divided Bowie fans) and is the mark of an artist riding high in confident mood. Check it out when you can.

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