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Spider from Mars

February 20, 2017

My Life with Bowie – Spider from Mars by Woody Woodmansey (with Joel McIver)

Book Review

The Apollo 11 astronauts felt they were missing out somehow. Because they were out of this world, they didn’t have an audience perspective. It must have felt the same for the Spiders. In the 70s, Bowie and his entourage were not part of the scene: they were the scene. Woody’s book is invaluable Earth bound account from behind the curtain. It is refreshing to have, because Bowie himself shone very few naked lights there, and now Bowie, Trevor Bolder and Mick Ronson have left the building, it was imperative for Woody Woodmansey to put things down.

The enormity of the mystique and cultural impact of Ziggy became a perfect storm, in the timing and that, previously unrevealed to the masses, a vast, highly accomplished and original back catalogue was already in place. It really was, to a youngster like me ,as if the whole package had been beamed to Earth and suddenly classic single after classic single, each one markedly, and tantalisingly, different from the last, was released, and despite the establishments reluctance to play along, the momentum increased.

The Spiders’ contribution to The Man Who Sold the World, with producer Tony Visconti, documents in fascinating detail, that although still Bowie’s vision and voice, this was very much an album by a band finding each other’s musical strengths and exploiting a wealth of talent from all involved. (And like 95% of the material on the RCA albums, it passes the test of time with honours.)

The post Ziggy sections of this book are also compelling and it is pleasing to see that Woody has, and had, a good career. I remember seeing U-Boat at the Rock Garden in 77(I think). Although not my cup of tea, this project and Woody’s determination to do what he loved, despite the crushing blow of the Bowie/Spiders split, eventually gave the man many deserved high profile sessions and classy connections such as Art Garfunkel. He is a terrific drummer with an individual flavour and part of a tremendous mythology that drove the seventies into the creative sunlight. Those who were not there will think themselves accursed.

On an incidental note, it’s interesting that Woody says that post Spiders album, Diamond Dogs reminded him a bit of the old firm, as I am not alone in thinking that, though still a great album, Diamond Dogs would have been even better with Ronno, Trev and Woody playing on it. Discuss.

Andy Coombs (Soft Cotton County) February 2017


From → music, Reviews

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