The Times - June 12th 2004

Diamond Dogs: 30th Anniversary Edition

By Dominic Wells

David Bowie
Diamond Dogs: 30th Anniversary Edition (EMI)

David Bowie albums never manage to top the music magazine polls, only because there are so many great ones. that it splits the vote. Who could be adamant that Diamond Dogs, now rereleased in a 30th anniversary edition, was better or worse than Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Young Americans, Station to Station, Heroes, Low, Scary Monsters or Heathen?

A "concept" album that grew from a planned musical of George Orwell's 1984, and marking the transition between the rock god of Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke of Young Americans (he changed musical tack midway through the cripplingly expensive tour that prom- oted it), Diamond Dogs is a beautiful mess. It starts with a sci-fi word poem composed according to William Burroughs's cut-up technique of randomly re-arranging lines, before the bitching title track begins with a howl: "This ain't rock'n'roll! This is genocide!" Sweet Thing, Rock'n'Roll With Me and We Are the Dead are heartbreakers, Rebel Rebel (though out of place here) is the perfect pop song, while 1984, though presaging the "plastic soul" to come, should have remained in Bowie's handkerchief along with the other coke-derived nasal effluent: "Beware the savage jaw/ of 1984", indeed.

This new edition features a bonus CD with rare-ish but previously released tracks, unremarkable but for these: Dodo, which harks back to his 1960s days and was intended as a duet with Lulu; Growin' Up, a fine Bruce Springsteen cover featuring Ron Wood on guitar; and Alternative Candidate, whose downbeat melody deserves to be included in any collection.

It also comes with an informative booklet written by the Bowieologist David Buckley, and it replicates the original, undoctored gatefold sleeve, depicting Bowie as a freak with a human torso and a dog's lower half - a lower half that proved rather too anatomically realistic for the record company of 30 years ago, which brought out the airbrush. This re-release is, then, quite literally the dog's bollocks.