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It's about that time....

May 19, 2013 1:05 PM

A couple of years back we had us a time with "The Velvet Underground & Nico". Last year it was "OK Computer". This year, and as a challenge say for "summer" or "fall" (more properly "autumn" but we have to make allowances for the verbal idiosyncracies of our colonial friends) rather than a single month, may I suggest....

..... David Bowie's 1972 masterpiece "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars".

c'mon, c'mon you tigers on vaseline, if you think we're gonna make it you better hang on to your hairweaves


Alternatively, and given that it's the 40th anniversary, it could be Aladdin Sane.
posted by Hoops McCann (69 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Sounds good. Are we claiming songs or drawing them from a hat?
posted by dubold at 4:00 AM on May 20, 2013


A figurative hat, of course.

I'd say Ziggy Stardust, but I just want to cover "5 years".
posted by dubold at 4:01 AM on May 20, 2013


If I had time I'd be a moonage daydream kinda guy, but this summer is gonna be crazy busy for me (and I already spectacularly failed to deliver on OK Computer last year)
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:41 PM on May 20, 2013


I'm in for both Ziggy and Aladdin, as they're basically a double album. Aladdin Sane is just "Ziggy Goes to America." We're still, sadly, finishing OK Computer, but that's because of the tendency to overdo things.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 4:02 PM on May 20, 2013


Ziggy is good, classic. Or Hunky Dory. Or Aladdin Sane.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:26 AM on May 21, 2013


I liked the random assignments on the other two cover challenges, so I vote for that again. I'm definitely in to take a stab at whatever, I freakin love Bowie.
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:37 AM on May 21, 2013


I could go for a random song from either Ziggy or Aladdin Sane. I can't stand much of Hunky Dory.
posted by Ardiril at 9:16 PM on May 21, 2013


I guess the question is, assuming a similar turnout to the OK Computer project, is it better to do one album with multiple versions of songs, or do Ziggy + Aladdin as a double album, with fewer duplicate covers but more variety?
posted by dubold at 1:25 AM on May 22, 2013


I'm in for both Ziggy and Aladdin, as they're basically a double album

Hhhmmm. Really? I think they're very different albums tonally, texturally and particularly in terms of mood. Apart from the hysterically apocalyptic "Five Years", Ziggy is pretty upbeat in tone etc. Aladdin is a very dark and slightly surreal album I think - cocaine-fuelled paranoia + Mike Garson's insane (but utterly brilliant) piano contributions. Personally, I prefer Aladdin - there's more depth to it I think. Time and the title track are absolute masterpieces.

I guess we could also include the stray singles with these albums: John, I'm Only Dancing and Rebel Rebel. All The Young Dudes could perhaps also make it at a stretch. They're all contemporaneous. There may be other non-album ones I can't recall.

As for logistics - that's one for the curreny Challenge Meister!!
posted by Hoops McCann at 1:57 AM on May 22, 2013


Rebel Rebel is off of Diamond Dogs. If you want to be pedantic. Which I know you do.
posted by Grangousier at 2:21 AM on May 22, 2013


Quite so, quite so young fellow-me-lad. I'm old enough (inserts pipe and puffs ruminatively) to vaguely remember Rebel Rebel as a stand-alone single (scratches nuts appreciatively). It may well have been on Diamond Dogs, but I think you may find - sonny - that it came out long before. My fading memory also seems to recall the The Gene Genie was similar in the sense that it came out between Ziggy and Aladdin but was shoved onto the latter as a makeweight. And what a makeweight it is!! (falls asleep)
posted by Hoops McCann at 6:06 AM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hhhmmm. Really? I think they're very different albums tonally, texturally and particularly in terms of mood.

Well, he wrote Aladdin Sane while touring the states as Ziggy (I think he may have recorded it during the tour, as well? My Bowieology is wonky today), performed most of the tracks during the tour, and it was still done under the Ziggy/Spiders personae. The disparate tones can easily be likened to discs 1 and 2. There's still a common, raw, grippingly sexual theme between them.

I tend to think of it like the first one is from outside Ziggy's perspective--the narrator is vexed by him, and wants desperately to know more, delving deeper into his world (apart from, perhaps, Star, Hang On To Yourself, and Suffragette City, which would probably be actually performed by Ziggy and the Spiders), until Rock & Roll Suicide (dibs!), where either the narrator dies from overconsumption, or he finally declares his love for Ziggy, or something like that; I haven't really come to a conclusion there.

Aladdin Sane, however, strikes me as a full album from the actual alter ego, though. Now that the narrator is fully enveloped in the Wild World of Stardust (patent pending!), perhaps they engage in an tawdry, if occasionally amorous affair, which pushes the muse for the fuller, darker, broader strokes of the album.

Unfortunately, there's no ending to the story 'cause Bowie, as we all know, played his last show ever on July 3, 1973, as Mr. D.A. Pennebaker showed us all on film. It's been a long 40 years without any more music ever from David Bowie. Whatever happened to him?
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 11:43 AM on May 22, 2013


I wouldn't really disagree with any of that LOOM. It might be that our different perspectives are age-related. I was a huge Bowie nut as a teenager (which freaked my parents out totally - fantastic) and I got these albums as they were released. I sort of feel quite privileged about that - I had the same experience with the punk explosion, although I was more directly involved in that as a musician. I can very well remember too how utterly and deliciously outrageous John, I'm Only Dancing was - hard to explain that now, but it was genuinely subversive. I mean, wrinklies and the establishment were very worried about this weird androgynous creature corrupting the yoof. But I digress. So......I don't have a retrospective "take" on Ziggy and Al and still have the feeling of them as "now". Does that make any sense at all?? Another way of putting it is that because of my experience of them I see them as linear and separate rather than as two halves of a whole. Anyway - just how boring would it be if we all took the same things from music!
posted by Hoops McCann at 12:49 PM on May 23, 2013


Oh, I get it, Major. I got the albums right around the same time, and had read about them extensively in a music-historical context, beforehand. I can't have anything but an outside perspective to it, lest somehow someone goes back in time and have me be born in the 60s on the other side of the pond.

Also, anyone in my hometown in Texas would still have the same reaction today to John, I'm Only Dancing or half his songs from that time. I'm still uncertain of the perspective of the song, 11 years or so after having first heard it. Is he a gay man with a jealous lover who's afraid he's "gone straight?" Is he defending himself from "John" from being seen as a potential cuckold? I'm pretty sure that's the point, though.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 6:44 PM on May 23, 2013


I agree, it's about that time. So... if we do assignments like we've done before, who's gonna coordinate it?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:27 AM on May 26, 2013


Maybe someone else could shoulder the logistics on this? I'm not really a huge Bowie fan (I KNOW, RIGHT?) and I feel like the wrong person to be running this.
posted by unSane at 11:06 AM on May 26, 2013


I was going to suggest we do Chic for this. Because Chic.
posted by dobie at 3:09 PM on May 26, 2013


I'd like to be in.
posted by umbú at 7:54 PM on May 26, 2013


Maybe we shouldn't go for the whole allocating tracks randomly to volunteers thang, which is perhaps a bit too akin to organised games at Scout camp (not that I ever was in the Scouts). In any case, no-one can be arsed to adminster something as time-consuming as that - I certainly can't!

What say that covering Aladdin Stardust and the Spandex from Chic is a sort of meta-challenge (heh) for summer '13, with an end date of 1st September and leave it at that? Cover whatever track(s) you like from Ziggy and Aladdin, including, as I suggested earlier, contemporaneous non-album singles (Holy Holy is another one btw). I guess if it appears towards the end that there are obvious gaps emerging, well that's a sort of sub-challenge in itself (i.e. fill 'em!).

It would be cool to hear Chic's version of some of these - I have one in mind.......

Oh, and I really, really want to hear unSane's version of the title track...if only so we get a post entitled Aladdin unSane. Splendid!

dib dib dib
posted by Hoops McCann at 12:44 PM on May 27, 2013


Too bad that May's challenge sort of died on the vine, I was looking forward to hearing what other people did with it. The "current challenge" page is still on April so I guess it just sort of got buried.
posted by chococat at 5:22 PM on May 28, 2013


So, given that at least two songs off Ziggy are in my regular set, I'm in. Which I guess means I need to practice.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:09 AM on May 31, 2013


I think I'm in.
posted by COBRA! at 5:19 AM on May 31, 2013


i'm in.
posted by dubold at 12:13 PM on May 31, 2013


So what exactly is going on here?
posted by davejay at 10:25 PM on June 3, 2013


What's going on is that Hoops has an idea but doesn't want to deal with actually dealing with it. Neither does unSane, the current Challenge runner (fair enough; this isn't his thing). Neither, apparently, does anyone else.

I'm not sure that there's any current challenge at all. The "Monthly Challenge Link" ("Updated!", ha) is stuck on April, and I'm not certain that cortex even comes around here anymore.

It might be time to revamp the entire Challenge structure.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 6:24 PM on June 5, 2013


Yes, sorry, it's my fault for not putting up a new challenge but I agree with the idea of revamping the challenge structure. Maybe a new post to discuss it?
posted by unSane at 6:30 PM on June 5, 2013


What's going on is that Hoops has an idea but doesn't want to deal with actually dealing with it. Neither does unSane, the current Challenge runner (fair enough; this isn't his thing). Neither, apparently, does anyone else.


Didn't know that was an issue. I'll organize it.
posted by dubold at 8:23 AM on June 6, 2013


I'd be in for this.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:46 AM on June 6, 2013


Yeah, I'm in, too. Speaking as the guy who organized last year's Radiohead album challenge, the organizational stuff really didn't turn out to be that difficult. Dubold, if you get cold feet and decide you don't want to organize it after all, I can probably do it again. I already have the Google Document template I used last time to keep track of everything.
posted by The World Famous at 10:30 AM on June 6, 2013


assuming a similar turnout to the OK Computer project, is it better to do one album with multiple versions of songs, or do Ziggy + Aladdin as a double album, with fewer duplicate covers but more variety?

Do the Residents Commercial Album. 40 songs on that, all one minute long.
posted by philip-random at 12:22 PM on June 6, 2013


Thanks, The World Famous - I too have started a google doc. I don't think it's going to be particularly difficult to organize (FORESHADOWING‽‽‽) but will definitely let you know if there's summat needs doing.
posted by dubold at 12:32 PM on June 6, 2013


Okay, so the Bowie Challenge is going to be a randomly assigned song from Ziggy Stardust, due by 1st Sept. If there's enough entrants, I'll include Aladdin Sane.

So far I have:

Ardiril
askmeaboutLOOM
COBRA!
dubold
flapjaxatmidnite
hoops mccann
InfidelZombie
Lutoslawski
ob1quixote
The World Famous
umbú
_____________________

If you're not on that list and want to do this, say so in this thread and I'll add you to the list. I am going to assign tracks this weekend.
posted by dubold at 12:47 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I’d love to be added to the list.
posted by bongo_x at 12:57 PM on June 6, 2013


Why so specific? Why not "any Bowie song"? It's not like there aren't enough decent artists out there to cover for future competitions.

And, why assigned tracks? Surely a lot of the creativity is when you have a brainstorm where you realize, "Hey, I could cover Space Oddity as reggae"?

There would be duplication - so much the better. And you get to make the calculus - "Do I pick a well-known song, but risk duplication - or cover a lesser-known song that might not be so interesting?"
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:02 PM on June 6, 2013


I'm in. I'm open to collaborating.

Does this pay? I'm trying to pay for a ticket back from Suffragette City.*





*I know this doesn't pay.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:03 PM on June 6, 2013


I would like to be part of this too.
posted by cincinnatus c at 1:10 PM on June 6, 2013


Heck, I'm in.
posted by cortex at 1:24 PM on June 6, 2013


I think the specificity of the cover challenge is a holdover from the first one where we did Velvet Underground+Nico. The goal was to get covers of the full album, and without assignments who's going to volunteer to do European Son?

But people have always traded assignments, or opted out of that and did a song of their own choosing. And you could cover a Bowie song anytime, no need to wait for a challenge.

I think the limitations make things a little easier for the type of person who doesn't contribute much here, as it takes a lot of the worry about what to do out of the situation and forces you down a specific path - could be part of why those challenges always get good participation.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:25 PM on June 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please add my name, this looks like something else I want to fail at.
posted by fleacircus at 1:40 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm in.
posted by frenetic at 2:02 PM on June 6, 2013


> The goal was to get covers of the full album, and without assignments who's going to volunteer to do European Son?

Me, definitely! It's my favorite song from the album, and one I've always wanted to cover.

Well, I definitely sympathize to people who want an assignment - it does make life a lot more straight-forward - so I withdraw my objections.

... I don't suppose a cover of European Son would be at all appropriate for this competition? Sigh, I thought not...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:24 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does this pay? I'm trying to pay for a ticket back from Suffragette City.*

Don't lean on me, man.
posted by The World Famous at 2:49 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could both Aladdin Sane be included and there be an option to choose which album you want to be assigned from? I'm just not a huge fan of Ziggy for some reason but I love love love Aladdin Sane.
posted by invitapriore at 3:34 PM on June 6, 2013


More challenging to do his shitty albums.
Tin Machine, anyone?
Pre-fame, Anthony Newley period?
posted by chococat at 8:41 PM on June 6, 2013


Tin Machine, anyone?

My band worked a pretty straightforward cover of "Bus Stop" into a lot our sets for a few years, and it was always pretty fun. The rest of the album, yeah, slim pickings.
posted by COBRA! at 5:34 AM on June 7, 2013


If you're not on that list and want to do this, say so in this thread

ooooohhh wham bam thank you mam/n!!
posted by Hoops McCann at 6:08 AM on June 7, 2013


Okay, anyone who's interested but hasn't said so, feel free to let me know. If we get a few more people signed up, we'll do both records, but if not, we'll just do Ziggy.
posted by dubold at 5:37 AM on June 8, 2013


Assignments have been Memailed out, except for Ardiril because they have Memail disabled. Tracks were allocated with the highly scientific randomized method of having a 4 year old hand me pieces of paper. Best of luck to you all, and I'm really looking forward to hearing the results.
posted by dubold at 2:55 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ardiril, let me know your preferred contact method - i can be reached via (my user name) @ gmail.
posted by dubold at 3:56 AM on June 10, 2013


So, who got Ziggy? I got Hang On To Yourself.
posted by bongo_x at 9:36 AM on June 10, 2013


Just spit it out here.
posted by Ardiril at 5:39 PM on June 10, 2013


Okay - you've got "Five Years".
posted by dubold at 12:44 AM on June 11, 2013


And that's all you've got.
posted by Grangousier at 3:02 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes put my name in the hat please :)
posted by greenish at 6:11 AM on June 11, 2013


Five minutes with my bari uke yesterday convinced me that if I wanted to do It Ain't Easy as a chilled out clean-blues riff on Jimi I could totally pull it off once I can convincingly play guitar and sing like Jimi.

And then this morning I decided that if I wanted to lay the guitar solo from Pepper over the track, that would work to.

In summary, land of contrasts, etc.
posted by cortex at 8:00 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I got It Ain't Easy, too, and it sounds like we might be engaged in a good old-fashioned weird-off. You're going DOWN.
posted by COBRA! at 8:03 AM on June 11, 2013


That should be fun.
posted by Ardiril at 8:47 AM on June 11, 2013


Cortex, I can do a passable Jimi on guitar if you want to collaborate.
posted by The World Famous at 11:57 AM on June 11, 2013


I could totally go for that, and then proper weird up a different version for COBRA!-charming purposes, yeah.
posted by cortex at 12:30 PM on June 11, 2013


I got Suffragette City which, quite honestly, I don't know if I can do. That is, if I can bring anything new and meaningful to. Certainly a challenge!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:02 PM on June 11, 2013


I got Suffragette City too. I put my name down for the Bowie challenge just to force myself to post something for once. I'm not even a musician. It's a tough one.
posted by cincinnatus c at 7:51 AM on June 12, 2013


The song's a dialog, kind of, so you could just record yourself and another person shouting the parts at each other...
posted by COBRA! at 8:39 AM on June 12, 2013


Count yourself lucky flapjax. I got "Star" - my least favourite and probably the only dud on the album. But.........I guess like you say... it's a challenge........ shit....
posted by Hoops McCann at 9:11 AM on June 12, 2013


That’s funny, I had tons of ideas for "Ziggy" "Suffergate" and others, but I got "Hang on to Youself" and couldn’t think of a damn thing. I really wanted to trade, but I think I’ve got an idea now.

I don’t think any of these are as easy as they appear at first.
posted by bongo_x at 9:18 AM on June 12, 2013


......and I'm on vacation right now in Sicily and......and........and.......this is just spoiling EVERYTHING ......and. ...this challenge was my fucking idea wasn't it.....so I could have been fucking asked what I wanted to cover.....What? No I don't fucking know, but that's hardly the fucking point is it......whhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"
posted by Hoops McCann at 9:36 AM on June 12, 2013


Oooh yeah. I got starman. This is going to be fun. So catchy, and so many possibilities...
posted by umbú at 9:57 AM on June 12, 2013


I got Ziggy, I'll trade anyone for it for anything other than Ziggy because that wouldn't make any sense.
posted by dobie at 10:37 AM on June 12, 2013


-dobie-

I’ll trade.
posted by bongo_x at 10:48 AM on June 12, 2013


All yours bongo_x
posted by dobie at 11:36 AM on June 12, 2013


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