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The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie And The 1970s Paperback – 4 Oct 2012
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"Thrilling...takes its place next to Revolution in the Head on the short shelf of necessary reading about pop. Praise doesn't come any higher" (Observer)
"A meticulous and engaging insight into the golden years of one of pop's true innovators. For those who love Bowie - a must" (Mark Radcliffe)
"An astonishing and absorbing work that expertly unpicks this explosively creative time in Bowie's life... Ultimately, Doggett's insight and enthusiasm should send you back to the music. If you do so the book will ensure you experience something entirely new" (Sunday Times)
"Compels you to listen to Bowie's best-known songs afresh and his less obvious songs anew" (Time Out)
"This is a book, which can be dipped into as a fine song-by-song guide, but even more so, as an excellent cultural history" (Mojo)
Brilliant musical critique; biographical insight and acute cultural analysis, The Man Who Sold The World is a unique study of David Bowie and the 1970s.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
So it's a pity to have to report that this book isn't quite what I hoped for. It is largely a song by song review of Bowie's output in the 70s, interspersed with some magazine style boxed articles covering his life at the time which liven things up a bit. There is no lyrical analysis to speak of, but quite a bit of technical stuff about the musical structure of songs. If that is your thing you will probably enjoy this more than I did - but for me it was too technical to capture the magic of the music which was, and to some extent remains, the soundrack of my life.
So reasonably enjoyable in parts - but as a song by song, and album by album, review of Bowie's work not even close to the The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg.
It's a structure that can clearly work well with artists of depth and merit worthy of such examination (Goddard used the same method for his exemplary and exhaustive exploration of the Smiths musical history in `Songs that saved your life') so Bowie clearly meets the criteria.
Anyway, I am a big Bowie fan and I have read much on the man, certainly the significant texts. To be honest I wasn't really expecting too much from this book. Nicolas Pegg's Bowie bible `complete' having set an impossibly high bench mark for minutia information and detail. There is, however, much to recommend this book.
Firstly, it's well written (always a plus!), secondly there is good focus on 70s cultural influence and impact on Bowie's work, thirdly, and most importantly for me, there are some new, interesting and plausible perspectives on the songs. Doggett proposing that `Queen Bitch' may have been about Marc Bolan for example (one of many such jewels!).
So yes, a book I can highly recommend to the Bowie reader which is sadly let down by the poor quality paper on which it is printed (you know the sort that turns yellow after 6 months). These things matter to me. If you are less pedantic about page quality then add the additional star!
His research does, however, throw up some interesting nuggets - not least the influence of Bowie's half-brother, Terry, in opening up his cultural horizons, and the fear of hereditary madness that seemed to drive him to workaholism (along with other addictions). Of course, any real attempt to track down the references in Bowie's work is a bit like lepidoptery - as soon as you pin them down and stick them behind glass, they lose the very qualities you're searching for. Bowie has been accused by Nick Kent of being a plagiarist, but his genius (not using the term lightly) lay in his capacity to soak up myriad influences and re-package them into a unique vision that managed to engage the imaginations of millions while remaining inimitable. Certainly, others have taken facets of that vision and built careers on them, but they've invariably been 2-D efforts in comparison to Bowie's widescreen 3-D.Read more ›
Firstly, I freely admit that there are parts of this book that went right over my head. When the author writes about how a song uses F# to G flat and blah blah blah... well, I'm no musician and I'm lost. That I can put up with, as, although that kind of remark is used often, it doesn't dominate what the author is talking about.
Far, far worse for me was the dismissive tone of the whole book. Bowie's earliest songs are described in terms of how derivative they are - fair enough, anyone starting out in a creative field is likely to copy until the build the knowledge and skills to do something new. What is unbelievable though, is how Doggett then keeps this up for the whole of the book. Every song (according to Doggett) seems not to have roots in its inspiration from something else, but to be simply taken wholesale from it. Throughout he portrays Bowie as little more than an OK singer who had little to do with the music. Whoever his collaborators were at the time are given all the credit - Mick Ronson during the Spiders era, Eno for Berlin... He does at least admit that Bowie wrote the lyrics, but somewhat predictably is then either dismissive of the words or has a go at them for being incomprehensible.
Towards the end of the book (as it hits 1980), the author seems to let his left-wing prejudice creep in as well, interpreting lyrics as being about the 'evil' of the Thatcher years. He then immediately admits that this interpretation is ridiculous. Why put it in then? All it seems to do is promote a personal agenda that has nothing to do with the subject and make the author look foolish.
I finished this book through sheer persistence and left it with the feeling of "Why write it, considering you seem to think David Bowie is a talentless hack?", a sentiment I certainly don't agree with. Not a book I'd recommend to anyone.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pete Doggett does for Bowie in the 70s what Ian MacDonald did for the Beatles in the 60s with Revolution In The Head (and indeed this was to be penned by MacDonald before his early... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mr Duncan J Whatmore
Very well researched and written an unbiased account of documented motivations and inspirations for Bowies music from friends and collaborators of the era with each and every song... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Interesting to read, but not essential. There are loads of better books on Bowie written out there.Published 12 months ago by Pete
Comparisons with Revolution in the Head - Ian Macdonald's book about the Beatles' recordings and their times - should be taken with a big pinch of salt. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Andrew Dunn
Really disappointing Kindle book, it doesn't seem to be working correctly constantly jumping forward and back, not the narrative, but the kindle mechanism, What of the book I have... Read morePublished on 27 Oct. 2014 by Mafrench
Perhaps the definitive Bowie text - covers his golden years and a few scraps either side. Incredibly thorough and well researched with just enough opinion to keep it impartial yet... Read morePublished on 3 Dec. 2013 by F
Inferior to the peerless 'Revolution On The Head' which the book is unashamedly based on, this is nevertheless an extremely well crafted and enjoyable book. Read morePublished on 20 Aug. 2013 by Guy Haviland
My interest in David Bowie in only minimal as I'm more for his covers and who covered him.Thus my favorite cover of Life On Mars-possibly his greatest song-is by Marti Webb with... Read morePublished on 27 April 2013 by Richard
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