Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Some Great Videos - David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes"

I was only 13 when this song came out. From the album "Scary Monsters.. And Super Creeps," in the year 1980. It was the No. 1 hit at the time. I love this video. Bowie looks like a clown from outer space. And who are those behind him? One of them is Steve Strange and the other, non other than Boy George. These guys at the time were total Bowie groupies and they began a movement in England at that time called "The New Romantics" which gave birth to such bands as Visage (whom Steve Strange fronted), Duran Duran, Culture Club, Ultravox (with Midge Ure), Spandau Ballet. And I'm sure there are couple of readers that can name a slew of others. Depeche Mode and The Human League I believe were also among them, though I think they were more labeled as "Futurists."

I remember when I first saw this video. It was late night on one of those late night shows that sometimes aired videos. I remember my oldest brother was watching as well. He was chuckling at all the scenes. I myself had my mouth open and was transfixed at all the imagery that Bowie was presenting.

The song references "Major Tom." from "an early song.." Later on, a singer by the name of Pete Shilling wrote a song called "Major Tom" which was a pretty big hit.

"Ashes to Ashes" incorporated a lot of keyboards. This was a time when most rock bands treated the synthesizer as a novelty, but for such performers with imagination like Bowie, the synthesizer was a godsend. Chuck Hammer, I believe lending his hand for this track. I think Bowie also worked with Brian Eno and Philip Glass on several of his other albums.

"Ashes to Ashes" is by far my all time favorite Bowie song. Other favorites include "Golden Years", "Fashion" and off course "Space Oddity."


steve said...

Hey V, looks like we were! Fascinating info here too--I had no idea. This video scared me sooo much as a kid but now I can actually watch it and appreciate it in a whole new light. I watched his "fashion" vid the othert day and was cracking up. Funny, 'cause last weekend me and some friends went out for drinks in Dc and while waiting for the late metro train to pick us up, we started singing Bowie songs outta the blue. Amazing what an influence that guy has had.

V said...

All of a sudden, Bowie is popping up everywhere. I just saw a 15 min show on the Ovation channel and "Ashes" was the first song he sang!

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

I really wished Depeche Mode didn't veer off from that Futurist direction. It was brilliant. However, having read a few books on Depeche Mode, I gathered that Clarke or Gore didn't have an idea as to Futurism, as a movement, as an art form and so forth. Their creations were inadvertent. They were just Basildon New Town boys who utilised the tools they had. They were products of their society. Pity.

V said...

You're right it was brilliant. But I guess you have to do where the influence takes you. As far ad DM music, I still believe that "A Broken Fame" stands out as one of their inovative and sometimes strange to date. It just didn't sound so "pop" in its entirely. If you take out "The Meaning for Love" and "A Photograph of You," you have something quite unique. Songs like "Satelite", "Monument", "My Secret Garden" and "The Sun & The Rainfall" are among my favorite DM songs. They did some quite interesting instrumentals then as well. "Nothing to Fear" is brilliant.