David Bowie
Pin Ups
(Virgin 21903)

In which Bowie pays tribute to the swingin' London of the 60s, in the 70s. It begins a streak of pretty lousy records after the earlier thrills of Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane but before the redemption of his stuff with Brian Eno.

Pin Ups is not a bad record by any means, but it's a pretty slight one, as most all-cover albums are. The music is very much glam-era Bowie, covering an assortment of tunes by the Kinks, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Yardbirds, the Pretty Things, Them, The Mojos, The Easybeats, and The Merseys … not my favorite period of music, that's for sure.

The recent reissue sadly omits two bonus tracks that appeared on earlier editions, and which were more interesting than the actual album tracks: a cover of Springsteen's "Growin' Up" and Jacques Brel's "Port of Amsterdam."

The former is probably the best track from the Pin UP sessions, reflecting Bowie's outstanding taste in covers … too bad it's not part of the album anymore.

Some of the songs that are on the album would be tired in any version: "Here Comes the Night," "Shapes Of Things," "I Can't Explain," "Friday On My Mind," "I Wish You Would." I suppose that if I had to listen to any versions of these songs, they'd be Bowie's, but only because the originals are so lame to hear anymore.

Actually, his version of "Here Comes the Night" is rousing, bolstered by some tight glam drumming. The better tracks are the ones that are less well-known: "Sorrow," ("With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue" … obviously a favorite of George Harrison's too), "See Emily Play," which sounds like a Dukes of Stratosphear outtake (how's that for circular reasoning?), "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" (always a listenable song).

The bluesier moments ("Everything's Alright," "Don't Bring Me Down") are mostly wank-fests, so the lighter stuff on here is what counts. "Sorrow" is the only cut really worth hearing, although no track but "I Can't Explain" could be called terrible. That song is bad to begin with, this version is worse, and the Fatboy Slim version is still worse. Anyone still wishing to cover that song is expressly forbidden to do so, on my holy word.

The majority of the album is along the same lines of a Leif Garrett album, albeit more competently played and sung. Mostly, this is a Bowie album for real Bowie fans … I find myself weeded out of that group by my blank response to the record.

The cover art is terrible, too (check out Human Drama's similarly-titled album for an even worse cover), but then I can't think of a Bowie album that has a really great cover.

Review by Kermit Ash