It’s interesting that Bowie emerged from such run-of-the-mill ‘60s beat-pop into something so relevant and unique. For me, aside from standout singles Space Oddity and The Man Who Sold The World, he doesn’t really become interesting until Hunky Dory – and then all of a sudden he’s very interesting.
This LP – a collection of his 1966 singles recorded for the Pye label – could have been recorded by any number of London-based mod singers from the mid-‘60s. It’s not a million miles from the likes of the Kinks, except that it’s a million miles from them at the same time. You can hear that it’s Bowie – that strange, almost pained delivery of vocals is hard to miss – but the material is second-rate. Where Ray Davies made ordinary sound interesting, here Bowie makes ordinary sound, well, ordinary.
Still, it’s a nice little time-capsule of where he started, and at least it’s not as bad as The Laughing Gnome.
There must have been a bit of artistic drought in the mid-70s in provincial New Zealand. It’s the only way I can understand how an aging pianist at a resort hotel in the Bay Of Islands could have landed a record deal, with Pye Records no less.
It sounds like something out of a film. Mild-mannered Jack Roberts, sat there playing piano schmaltz to honeymooning couples on a wet Tuesday night in June, looks up to see a record company executive waiting to shake his hand. He’s there on a holiday with his estranged wife, making one last bid at saving their marriage. Mr. Bigwig introduces himself, and in an attempt to show-off to his wife, he asks the night’s entertainment what he thinks about making a record.
Or something like that.
Good on Jack though.
The thing I like the best about this record is the cover photos of the Waitangi Resort Hotel and its environs. Alongside the obligatory photos of Jack next to the piano, there are seven photos of a young couple enjoying the hotel and its facilities. It’s the same couple in each photo, which makes it feel like they’re the hotel’s only residents. Only a distant barman in one of the shots gives the impression that they’re not completely alone in this Overlook Hotel nightmare. I wonder who they are. Maybe it’s the guy from Pye records and his wife?