Pin Ups

  1. Rosalyn [2.27]

  2. Here Comes The Night [3.09]

  3. I Wish You Would [2.40]

  4. See Emily Play [4.03]

  5. Everything's Alright [2.26]

  6. I Can't Explain [2.07]

  7. Friday On My Mind [3.18]

  8. Sorrow [2.48]

  9. Don't Bring Me Down [2.01]

  10. Shapes Of Things [2.47]

  11. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere [3.04]

  12. Where Have All The Good Times Gone! [2.35]

Bonus tracks on 1990 reissue:

  • Growin' Up [3.26]

  • Amsterdam [3.29]

Pin Ups

Released:

  • RCA Victor RS 1003 - October 1973

  • RCA International INTS 5236 - February 1983

  • RCA BOPIC 4 - April 1984

  • EMI EMC 3580 - July 1990

  • EMI 7243 5219030 - September 1999

  • Parlophone 0825646283385 - September 2015 (CD)

  • Parlophone DB69736 - February 2016 (LP)

Personnel:

  • David Bowie: Vocals, Guitar, Saxophone

  • Mick Ronson: Guitar, Piano, Vocals

  • Trevor Bolder: Bass

  • Aynsley Dunbar: Drums

  • Mike Garson: Piano

  • Ken Fordham: Saxophone

  • G A MacCormack: Backing Vocals

Recorded:

  • Chateau d'Hérouville Studios, Pontoise

Producers:

  • Ken Scott, David Bowie

On July 5th 1973, the day after Ziggy Stardust's wake at the Café Royal, David and Angela attended the royal premiere of the latest James Bond movie, Live And Let Die. Three days later David took the boat train for Paris en route to the Chateau d'Herouville Studios in Pontoise, where he was to begin work on his new album.

 

Formerly Chopin's house and much favoured as a recording venue since Elton John's Honky Chateau had popularised it two years earlier, the studio was recommended to David by Marc Bolan, who had just used it to record Tanx. The Bowie sessions actually took place in the George Sand Studio, located in the converted stables.

 

Although Bowie had apparently intended to keep The Spiders From Mars together for the new LP, his failure to warn Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey in advance of Ziggy's "retirement" speech had quickly led to a rift. Mike Garson received a telephone call from the MainMan office on the morning of Woodmansey's wedding (over which he was presiding as an official of the Church of Scientology), asking him to inform the bridegroom that his services would not be required on the new album. "Woody was devastated," Garson told the Gillmans. "This was his life and he thought he was going to the top with David."

 

Both Garson and Mick Ronson were assured their place on the new album alongside Aladdin Sane veteran Ken Fordham and Geoffrey MacCormack, but Trevor Bolder initially seemed to be facing the same fate as Woodmansey. Invitations were issued to ex-Cream bassist Jack Bruce and to drummer Aynsley Dunbar, whose previous employers included the Bonzo Dog Band, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix. Dunbar accepted but Bruce did not, and Trevor Bolder was wooed back after all. "Trevor also sensed that he was going to lose his gig and so he went along," Garson told Jerry Hopkins; "Mick [Ronson] felt the same insecurity. So there was tension between them and David." This doesn't quite square with Bowie's later recollection that Ronson himself had suggested Aynsley Dunbar, having entertained mixed feelings about continuing with The Spiders' rhythm section: in Moonage Daydream, Bowie reveals that he and Ronson had discussed their respective solo prospects during the latter stages of the Ziggy tour, and that Ronson had "asked me not to mention our plans to either of the others yet, as he hadn't made up his mind whether or not he would have them in his [solo] band."

 

Whatever the case, any such tension seems only to have sharpened the results, for Pin Ups exudes a technical confidence and accomplishment that often exceeds Aladdin Sane. Bowie described the Chateau d'Hérouville as "a good place for nostalgia", and hence an ideal venue for his latest project. Conceived as a stop-gap while David recharged his creative batteries (and possibly, according to Tony Zanette, as a stalling manoeuvre while MainMan resolved a royalty dispute with David's publisher Chrysalis), Pin Ups was Bowie's tribute to the bands who had inspired him in his teenage years. "These are all bands which I used to go and hear play down the Marquee between 1964 and 1967," he explained. "I've got all these records back at home." Significantly, however, home is where he left them; the songs on Pin Ups are subjected to radical Bowie/Ronson makeovers, liberally sprinkled with the avant-glam additions of Mike Garson's jazz piano and Ken Fordham's saxophone. "We just took down the basic chord structures and worked from there," David explained. "Some of them don't even need any working on - like "Rosalyn" for example. But most of the arranging I have done by myself and Mick, and Aynsley too."

 

One of David's more surprising plans was to include a re-recorded version of his 1966 B-side "The London Boys" interspersed, a verse at a time, between the main tracks. "That dates from the first Deram album," he told Rock magazine, not entirely accurately. "It's about a young boy who comes up to London, gets pilled out of his head, all those things." The idea was dropped, perhaps because "The London Boys" provided too cynical a setting for the exuberance of the cover versions themselves.

 

The sessions, which continued until July 31st, also included abandoned versions of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" and the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat". Rumours persist of an abandoned "Pin Ups II" album supposedly begun at the Chateau sessions, and leaning more heavily on American music: it may have included these aborted numbers along with rumoured versions of The Stooges' "No Fun", Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer In The City" and Roxy Music's "Ladytron". The abandoned "White Light/White Heat" backing track was later used by Mick Ronson on his 1975 solo album Play Don't Worry, while "God Only Knows" was revived in October 1973 for the Astronettes album and re-recorded many years later for Tonight.

 

Also laid down during the Pin Ups sessions were backing and vocal tracks for the Lulu covers "Watch That Man" and "The Man Who Sold The World". Lulu spent several days at the Chateau, although the tracks would not be completed until later in the year. Other studio visitors included Nico, Ava Cherry and future Young Americans vocalist Jean Millington. While in France, David and Angela posed in a series of fashion shots for the Daily Mirror based on that year's Paris collections; David gave Angela the greater prominence in the feature, as she was now attempting to launch a career as a model and actress. By the end of 1973, it was being reported that she was to play the title role in Wonder Woman and appear in Hawaii Five-0 and FBI. She never did.

 

It was during the Pin Ups sessions that another chapter in Bowie history opened when the teenage magazine Mirabelle published the first instalment of David's weekly "diary". This feature would run every week for almost two years, clocking up a total of 94 instalments until the final entry in May 1975. The tone of wide-eyed innocence, the profusion of exclamation marks and the painstaking catalogue of Angela Bowie's social engagements make for immediately suspicious reading, and in 1998 David surprised nobody by admitting that the diary was actually written by MainMan's press officer Cherry Vanilla. Today the Mirabelle diaries offer a fascinatingly skewed account of the period between the making of Pin Ups and the release of Young Americans, revealing more about Cherry Vanilla's priorities and lifestyle than about those of a star who was becoming increasingly estranged from his management. The relentless plugging of other MainMan signings, the constant enthusing about "my incredible press lady, Cherry Vanilla", and the ruthless airbrushing of any mention of David's more controversial habits during the period, make for an often hilarious distortion of events.

 

The cover photo of Pin Ups pursued the album's swinging London theme with an appearance by Twiggy, already enshrined in "Drive-In Saturday" as "Twig The Wonder Kid". Taken midway through the sessions at a Parisian photographic studio by Twiggy's then partner Justin de Villeneuve, the shot was originally intended for the cover of Vogue. "I was really quite nervous," Twiggy recalls in her autobiography In Black And White, "as I was a huge fan and as starstruck as anyone else would be...He immediately put me at ease. He was everything I could have hoped for and more, witty and funny and incredibly bright; into films, directors, literature, art." A clash in skin tones created problems for the photographer, and Aladdin Sane's make-up designer Pierre Laroche came to the rescue. "I had just come back from California and was as brown as a nut," explains Twiggy, "while Bowie looked like he'd never seen the sun. So they had this idea to whiten my face down - leaving my neck and shoulders brown and bare - and colour Bowie up. Anyway, the result was fabulous." Meanwhile, Vogue's circulation manager was having second thoughts: "'We can't have a man on the cover of Vogue,' he announced. I couldn't believe it...Bowie was as knocked out by the picture as we were. As Justin owned the copyright Bowie said 'while they're pissing about arguing' he'd like to use it for the cover of the album he was recording. In the end, Vogue never used it. Pathetic really." Promoted to the Pin Ups sleeve, the photo was assured a far larger market: "Strange to think that it's possibly the most widely distributed photograph ever taken of me," concludes Twiggy, "and yet it was done right at the end of my modelling career."

 

The rear sleeve consisted of two of Mick Rock's concert shots from the Ziggy tour and a new photo of Bowie in a double-breasted suit, cradling his saxophone in the crook of his arm. "I chose the performance photos for the back cover as they were favourite Rock shots of mine," Bowie writes in Moonage Daydream. "I also did the back cover layout with the colour combination of red writing on blue as it again hinted at Sixties psychedelia." Meanwhile, it seems that the Twiggy photo pushed out another intended sleeve: photographer Alan Motz tells Christopher Sandford that he "wanted to shoot Bowie metamorphosing into an animal" for the cover of Pin Ups. If this is true, Motz's idea would soon be recycled.

 

Sandford's biography also claims that Pin Ups was nearly the subject of an injunction by Island Records, who wanted to prevent RCA from rush-releasing it ahead of Bryan Ferry's covers album These Foolish Things; apparently, Ferry had referred to Bowie's album as "a rip-off" of his own idea. In the end, no action was taken, and both albums were hits. Indeed Pin Ups remains one of Bowie's biggest sellers, matching Aladdin Sane's record of five weeks at UK number 1. It secured his status as the best-selling album artist of 1973, clocking up a new record of 182 individual weeks on the chart in one year. With Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and the reissued Mercury albums all doing good business, at the end of the year RCA presented Bowie with a plaque to commemorate his achievement in having five albums simultaneously in the chart over a period of 19 weeks. At the end of 1973, Bowie's total UK sales stood at 1,056,400 albums and 1,024,068 singles.

 

The sleeve and marketing of Pin Ups initiated a brief phase in which David was referred to simply as "Bowie". "Pin Ups means favourites, and these are Bowie's favourite songs. It's the kind of music your parents will never let you play loud enough!" ran the American advertising campaign. Despite its huge UK success, critical response was lukewarm: Sounds declared that David "used R&B as a prop, not a springboard". In America Billboard was more accommodating, commenting that "There's humour in this music if you want to take it as a look back in musical time."

 

That's exactly the spirit in which Pin Ups should be approached: it remains perhaps glam rock's most cogent expression of its own inherent nostalgia, an affectionate reminder of the process that had led to the charts of 1973. It's unsurprising that both Bowie and Bryan Ferry hit upon the same idea for, as the cocktail-party glamour of Roxy Music and the ersatz Teddy Boy pose of chart acts like Mud and Showaddywaddy demonstrated, by the end of 1973 pop was embarking on its first great embrace of its own history. Set in this climate, Pin Ups is entirely in keeping with Bowie's penchant for what he once called "future nostalgia". Being a collection of cover versions, it will never have the compelling allure of his other 1970s work, but it remains a superb, energetic and greatly underrated throwaway, showcasing a band of musicians operating at the height of their powers.