Diamond Dogs

David Bowie

RCA Records, 1974


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Diamond Dogs is a classic case of execution before preparation.

Somebody convinced David Bowie he no longer needed the Spiders from Mars, and so after the forgettable covers album Pin-Ups he fired the band. Problem is, Bowie wasn’t yet ready to move into his next phase -- he still had one more glam rock disc to get out of his system, and he decided to make it a concept album based on the novel 1984. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But without the band that produced Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane behind him, Bowie had to rely on new hired guns, and the cohesion he had with the Spiders is clearly missing from this new music. Plus, he couldn't get the rights to 1984, so the disc instead settles for an ambiguous reference to some future sci-fi paranoid vision with only elements of the Orwell classic. If this all sounds rather dull, it is.

Bowie did not play the riff to "Rebel Rebel," as it turns out, but it's one of the better riffs in his catalog, a trashy glam rock classic. The title track fares worse, opting for theatrics and noise over a killer song, but it's still not too bad once it's all said and done. Better is "1984," the main reference to the original theme and one of Bowie's better songs of this era, a terse rocker with elements of funk and some strings.

That about does it. The whole "Sweet Thing/Candidate" portion lands with a thud and "We Are the Dead" and "Rock 'n' Roll With Me" are dull. There's just not enough here to recommend, and even Bowie knew it; he would quickly become enamored with the Philly Soul sound and record Young Americans, making this one a rather failed experiment in a catalog full of successful ones.

Note: In 2004, EMI released a deluxe edition, which contained alternative versions of “Diamond Dogs,” “Candidate” and “Rebel Rebel,” as well as a Springsteen cover, a “1984/Dodo” mix and “Dodo” by itself. Other than the take on the Boss' "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City," nothing really redeems the original album, though if you love that one you may as well get the deluxe edition.

Rating: C-

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