Friday, May 24, 1974

David Bowie Diamond Dogs album released

Diamond Dogs

David Bowie

Released: May 24, 1974

Peak: 5 US, 14 UK, 12 CN, 3 AU

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.1 UK, 4.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: glam rock/classic rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Future Thing [1:07]
  2. Diamond Dogs [5:56] (6/14/76, 15 CL, 8 CO, 21 UK, 55 AU)
  3. Sweet Thing [3:38]
  4. Candidate [2:40]
  5. Sweet Thing (Reprise) [2:32]
  6. Rebel Rebel [4:30] (2/15/74, 64 US, 53 CB, 72 HR, 2 CL, 5 CO, 5 UK, 28 AU)
  7. Rock ‘N’ Roll with Me [4:02] (9/74, 44 CL, 33 CO)
  8. We Are the Dead [4:54]
  9. 1984 [3:27] (8/31/74, 96 CB, CL 40, CO 24)
  10. Big Brother [3:20]
  11. Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family [2:04]

All songs written by David Bowie.

Total Running Time: 46:10

The Players:

  • David Bowie (vocals, guitars, saxophone, Moog synthesizer, Mellotron)
  • Mike Garson (keyboards)
  • Herbie Flowers (bass)
  • Aynsley Dunbar, Tony Newman (drums)
  • Alan Parker (guitar on “1984”)


3.895 out of 5.00 (average of 30 ratings)

Quotable: Bowie would “never make an album that was obviously his own again.” – C.M. Crockford,

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Bowie’s previous album, Pin-Ups, was a collection of covers which served as sort of a stopgap. For Diamond Dogs, Bowie fully separated himself from the classic Ziggy Stardust era of 1971-73 by dismissing guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder, and drummer Mick Woodmansey. He did keep pianist Mike Garson and session drummer Aynsley Dunbar who first emerged on Pin-Ups. He also brought back Tony Visconti, who’d played bass and produced on The Man Who Sold the World, to provide string arrangements and help mix the album. Bowie took on lead guitar duties himself.

Diamond Dogs would be Bowie’s last album in the glam rock genre and has even been considered proto-punk. WK Music journalist C.M. Crockford described it as “the goofy, abrasive place where punk and art-rock meet, dance a little, and depart.” WK

However, Bowie “didn’t completely leave the Ziggy Stardust persona behind. Diamond Dogs suffers precisely because of this — he doesn't know how to move forward.” AMG “Throughout the album, there are hints that he’s tired with the Ziggy formula, particularly in the disco underpinning of Candidate and his cut-and-paste lyrics. However, it’s not enough to make Diamond Dogs a step forward, and without Mick Ronson to lead the band, the rockers are too stiff to make an impact.” AMG

Bowie originally intended to create a concept album based on George Orwell’s novel 1984. However, he was denied the rights by Orwell’s widow Sonia. He had developed the song 1984 in January 1973 during the sessions for Aladdin Sane and it survived for Diamond Dogs despite having to abandon the initial concept. We Are the Dead also reflects on the novel, specifically the characters of Winston and Julia and their love for each other. WK

He opted instead to create “an urban apocalyptic scenario based on the writings of William S. Burroughs” resulting in songs such as Future Legend and the title cut. WK The former presented the idea of an apocalypse that could happen at any time. The latter introduces Bowie’s newest persona – Halloween Jack – as the ruler of the “diamond dogs,” which are, in the words of biographer Chris O’Leary, “packs of feral kids camped on high-rise roofs, tearing around on roller skates, terrorizing the corpse-strew streets they live above.” WK

The album was preceded by “the tight, sexy Rebel Rebel,” AMG which “is based around a distinctive guitar riff reminiscent of the Rolling Stones.” WK It has been called Bowie’s “farewell to the glam era.” WK The single “doesn’t have much to do with the theme, and the ones he does throw in to further the story usually fall flat.” AMG Biographer Nicholas Pegg says “Rebel Rebel” is Bowie’s most-covered track. WK

That song and Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me were originally written for a potential Ziggy Stardust musical. WK This power ballad “explores the relationship between the audience and an actor.” WK Biographer David Buckley says the song foreshadowed the plastic soul of his next album, Young Americans. WK

The suite of Sweet Thing / Candidate / Sweet Thing (Reprise) has been described as the album’s highlight. Pegg says “Sweet Thing” paints pictures of decay with sex being a “drug-like commodity” while “Candidate” shows Bowie “consumed by the fakery of his own stage creations.” WK

As far as the overall status of the album, Rolling Stone’s Ken Emerson called it “Bowie’s worst album in six years.” WK All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine says “Diamond Dogs isn’t a total waste…but it is the first record since Space Oddity where Bowie's reach exceeds his grasp.” AMG Rock Magazine called it “a strong and effective album.” WK Sounds’ Martin Kirkup said the album “has the provoking quality of a thought-out painting that draws on all the deeper colors.” WK’s C.M. Crockford said Bowie would “never make an album that was obviously his own again.” WK

Notes: The 1990 Rykodisc reissue adds the previously unreleased “Dodo” and a demo version of “Candidate.”

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First posted 2/20/2008; last updated 7/30/2021.

Wednesday, May 22, 1974

Jon Landau wrote about Bruce Springsteen: May 22, 1974

Originally posted May 22, 2012.

Jon Landau and Bruce Springsteen,
image from

38 years ago, then-writer Jon Landau wrote one of the more famous lines of rock and roll journalism: “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” The line referenced a concert he’d seen the Thursday before at the Harvard Square theatre where Springsteen opened for Bonnie Raitt. He also said of the two-hour set, “Can anyone really be this good; can anyone say this much to me; can rock ‘n’ roll still speak with this kind of power and glory?” He answers with a resounding “yes” saying, “Springsteen does it all” and later “there is no one I would rather watch on stage today.”

It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City, live on 3-3-1974

Interestingly, Springsteen isn’t really the focus of the article. Springsteen’s name doesn’t show up until after the halfway point. At the grizzled age of 27, he reminisced about jamming with friends and listening to records as a freshman in college. He noted classics like Dionne Warwick’s “Walk on By,” the Drifters’ “Up on the Roof,” Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour,” and Otis Redding’s “Respect.” He said, “Others enjoyed drugs, school, travel, adventure. I just liked music: listening to it, playing it, talking about it.”

I can relate. Other than my family (and they might complain they rank second) nothing consumes my time and attention more than music. When it comes to favorites, I cite Marillion as my favorite band and Kevin Gilbert as my favorite singer. They both have that proper “who’s that?” quality that makes me appear more in touch with music than the average person. However, when it comes to mainstream music, no one gets me as enthused as Springsteen. I became a fan in high school when Born in the U.S.A. was taking over the world. I’ve eagerly awaited every album he’s done since, lapping them up as soon as they’re released, absorbing them, and then walking away with a couple new favorites to add to The Boss’ already-ripe canon.

Kitty’s Back, live on 1-19-1974

When Landau wrote his “Growing Young with Rock and Roll” article, Springsteen had two going-nowhere albums under his belt with Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle. Columbia Records had already lost $150,000 on those records and while Springsteen had a devoted local following, there seemed to be little chance he’d become a star. However, Columbia trumpeted Landau’s endorsement in full-page ads. While the original article appeared in The Real Paper, a weekly Boston newspaper which ran from 1972 to 1981, Landau had established a significant readership, having written for Rolling Stone, lending his craft to their very first issue in 1967.

More importantly, Landau joined Springsteen’s management team before year’s end. He co-produced Springsteen’s career-making album, 1975’s Born to Run and stayed on board with Springsteen ever since. Landau currently heads the nominating committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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