Self-Titled

“In 1910 I was so handsome and so strong
My moustache was stiffly waxed and one foot long”

It was an inauspicious start to the day – both in terms of the run and the music that accompanied it. A month ago I had managed 10ks, so I thought why not shoot for that right at the beginning assuming I could cut it short if it got too hard.

Once I got 4ks away from home, however, it became clear that much of the aerobic prowess I exhibited a month ago had been depleted by the sedentary weeks that followed. No issue, I told myself, I’ll just cut through the… roughly linear direction from which I came?

Run - 2 Feb 2013

It hadn’t occurred to me that running four kilometers directly away from my place would require a similar journey back. My knee was beginning to hurt, and I realised I’d have to walk. Normally this would make for a pleasant walk, but for the atrocity making itself known to my eardrums. This, I understood, was why I had never heard anything from David Bowie’s self-titled album.

Beginning with the incredibly British Uncle Arthur, I wondered how the same man who would later create Ziggy Stardust could write such a cheesy, nondescript track about a “zany” uncle whose main defining feature was that he “still reads comics”.

The next track Sell Me A Coat showed a little potential – the washed out vocal harmonies channeling The Kinks in parts. Unfortunately, this track was also the highlight.

I felt concerned for the subconscious impact the album might have on my own songwriting, but also heartened. It was the realisation that an artist can go from making hackneyed dandy-pop to become one of the most influential musicians in half a century that redeemed the album in my mind. In other words, there is hope for me yet.

There are moments worth mentioning, though. We Are the Hungry Men opens with a fairly racist spoken-word introduction, and evolves into a fully fledged Malthusian cautionary tale ending in – spoiler alert – cannibalism. Silly Boy Blue had a fairly epic interlude around the three minute mark with the chant “Jimmyjimmyjimmyjimmyjimmyjimmyjimmyoo”.

Perhaps most worth listening to is the track Love You Till Tuesday, the melody of which seems to anticipate Ted Mulry’s Jump in My Car to the point that I think it would meet the substantial part and objective similarity tests that saw Men at Work successfully sued by the Larrikin Music.

Finally, capping off an otherwise uneventful further 10 or so tracks is the truly bizarre Please Mr. Gravedigger. There’s no point trying to explain it, so I’ll leave you to ponder that until the next post.

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