50 and counting 40? Brick unleashes the Bowie inside.

Posted: May 25, 2023 in Uncategorized

In 2012, the World celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones. It was almost unbelievable to most of us. 50 years, you know…

And in 2023, all albums released in 1973 (this was just yesterday!) turn 50. And all 1983 records wear 40 candles. 1983, not even yesterday.

This includes a double anniversary for the late David Bowie: his seminal ‘Aladdin Sane’ turns 50, while his gateway to his most mainstream era, ‘Let’s Dance’, blows its 40 candles.

This wouldn’t pass under the radar for Bowie-enthusiast and musician Brick Bosso, who paid a double tribute to the Thin White Duke on this special occasion: his own versions of 1973’s “Watch That Man” and 1983’s title-track “Let’s Dance”.

Double anniversary means double takes, and Brick Bosso offers us two different mixes of each song. Which makes 4 in total, should you be skillful at maths.

The versions of “Watch That Man” are rather laid-back, compared with Bowie’s. Walsh (Bosso’s main man – no pun intended, Tony Defries!) explains:

For Shakey’s mix I think I sped the tempo up a bit? I basically tried to mimic the original and then layered on different sounds like the Theremin style synth and the percolating bleeps. Then I wasn’t happy with that one so I slowed it down and did some new tracks, including electric piano and a vocal. These were originally created to try for a spot on “Forget That I’m 50–Aladdin Same Remade, Remodeled” but Gene Micofsky’s kickass version won out.  Still they were very rewarding experiences and led to me covering “Let’s Dance” which is getting popular on Bandcamp.

More surprisingly, “Let’s Dance” is flavoured by Brick Bosso’s ska trademark. Thinking of rewriting History, we wondered if Bowie hasn’t been produced by Nile Rodgers back then, would he have tried the then popular ska? Walsh has his own theory about it:

Hmmm, I wonder. As ‘Let’s Dance’  was Bowie’s first album not produced by Tony Visconti in a very long time, the producer made all the difference. On the following album Tonight Bowie has a reggae song, “Don’t Look Down.” Maybe that’s the closest he ever got to Ska. Correct me if I’m wrong!

The melodica version Walsh provides is another hint that reggae and Bowie weren’t that opposed. And it’s not a synthesizer preset, which gives the arrangement some authenticity:

Yes, it’s a Hohner 32 key melodica, a Rasta style.

The ‘Let’s dance’”’ album opened the door for Bowie to taste international stadium success, and that era is often looked down by purists. Keith Walsh seems more open-minded about those albums:

I like them all and bought them when they came out. Obviously they’re intended as slick and polished, aiming for the pop charts. There’s some great tunes there: “Let’s Dance,” “Modern Love,” “China Girl,” “Loving The Alien,” “Blue Jean,” “Zeroes,” “Never Let Me Down” and “Time Will Crawl.” But I don’t believe the producers on the latter two albums have the edge of Visconti or Rodgers, and these albums weren’t as successful, artistically or commercially, as Let’s Dance. But they’re not my favorite Bowie albums anyway.

Another common ground between Bowie and Bosso is the presence of a precious collaborator that gives the artist’s songs a wider dimension. Mick Ronson, Tony Visconti and Reeves Gabrels for Bowie, Eric Endo for Keith Walsh. Right or wrong?

Eric has already become more important to the Brick Bosso sound than Mick Ronson was to Bowie. He always comes up with amazing parts. It was actually his idea to do “Let’s Dance” in a ska style, and his bass and riddim guitar nails down the groove perfectly. He’s a genuine ska artist, among his fluidity with every style imaginable. I met him through my Ska ‘N’  Bones colleague Al Keith when I saw Eric playing live with Al’s Peace. 

So, this is clear. Will it lead to other Bowie tributes from Brick Bosso?

There are others I’ve thought about recording. These were exceptionally fun, so I’ll probably try others.

Listen to Brick Bosso’s Bowie tribute here:

Watch That Man: https://brickbosso.bandcamp.com/album/watch-that-man-50th-anniversary-tribute

Let’s Dance: https://brickbosso.bandcamp.com/album/lets-dance-40th-anniversary-tribute


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