Monday, February 3, 1997

David Bowie Earthling released


David Bowie

Released: February 3, 1997

Peak: 39 US, 6 UK, 21 CN, 45 AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.06 UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: glam rock/classic rock veteran


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

  1. Little Wonder [6:02] (1/21/97, 14 UK, 94 AU)
  2. Looking for Satellites [5:20]
  3. Battle for Britain (The Letter) [4:48]
  4. Seven Years in Tibet (Bowie/Gabrels) [6:21] (8/18/97, 61 UK)
  5. Dead Man Walking (Bowie/Gabrels) [6:50] (4/26/97, 32 UK)
  6. Telling Lies (Bowie) [4:49] (11/4/96, 76 UK)
  7. The Last Thing You Should Do [4:57]
  8. I’m Afraid of Americans (Bowie, Brian Eno) [5:00] (10/14/97, 66 US, 29 MR)
  9. Law (Earthlings on Fire) (Bowie/Gabrels) [4:48]

Songs written by Bowie/Gabrels/Plati unless indicated otherwise.

Total Running Time: 48:57

The Players:

  • David Bowie (vocals, guitar, alto sax, samples, keyboards)
  • Reeves Gabrels (programming, synthesizers, guitar, vocals)
  • Mark Plati (programming, loops, samples, keyboards)
  • Gail Ann Dorsey (bass, vocals)
  • Zack Alford (drum loops, acoustic drums, electronic percussion)
  • Mike Garson (keyboards, piano)


3.349 out of 5.00 (average of 27 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Five days after finishing his tour for 1995’s Outside, David Bowie went right back into the studio and he and collaborator Reeves Gabrels immediately started writing new songs. WK Bowie considered the process similar to Scary Monsters, describing the goal was “to produce some really dynamic, aggressive-sounding material.” WK

“Jumping on the post-grunge industrial bandwagon with Outside didn’t successfully rejuvenate David Bowie’s credibility or sales, so he switched his allegiance to techno and jungle for the follow-up, Earthling.” AMG He was influenced by electronica acts like the Prodigy and Tricky. WK The new foray isn’t as dramatic a shift as one might think. Its “electronica-influenced sound [is] partly inspired by the industrial and drum and bass culture of the 1990s.” WK

“Though he often gets the sound of jungle right, the record frequently sounds as if the beats were simply grafted on top of pre-existing songs.” AMG Bowie said, however, “unlike most drum and bass things, we didn’t just take parts from other people’s records and sample them.” WK

“Songs like Little Wonder and Seven Years in Tibet are far stronger than the bulk of Outside,” AMG but “they are fairly conventional Bowie songs with fancy production.” AMG The former was an exercise in stream of consciousness. Bowie said he “picked Snow WHite and the Seven Dwarves and made a line for each of the dwarves’ names.” WK

For Battle of Britain, he challenged pianist Mike Garson to base his playing on a piece by Stravinsky called “Ragtime for Eleven Instruments.” WK On Looking for Satellites, Bowie told Gabrels that he “only wanted him to play on one string at a time…and that made his run-up most unorthodox.” WK The guitar riff on Dead Man Walking was based on a pattern guitarist Jimmy Page played for Bowie in the 1960s. WK

Originally Bowie didn’t think he’d have more than a few new songs and intended to rework some older material. One of those was I’m Afraid of Americans. He originally recorded a version for the soundtrack to the 1995 movie Showgirls. He also redid Telling Lies, which he’d written and released via the Internet the year before as the first ever downloadable single by a major artist. WK

Other songs he intended to rework for Earthling included “Dead Against It” from the 1993 soundtrack The Buddha of Suburbia, Tin Machine’s “I Can’t Read” and “Baby Universal,” and “Bring Me the Disco King,” which he’d first attempted during the recording of 1993’s Black Tie White Noise. The latter eventually surfaced in 2003 on the Reality album. The new version of “I Can’t Read” was released on the soundtrack for The Ice Storm and “Baby Universal” was released in 2020 on the Is It Any Wonder? EP.

Notes: The 2004 Columbia Records reissue adds remixes of “Little Wonder,” “I’m Afraid of Americans,” “Dead Man Walking,” and “Telling Lies.”

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 2/20/2008; last updated 8/2/2021.

Saturday, February 1, 1997

50 years ago: Al Jolson hit #1 with Songs He Made Famous

First posted 9/29/2020.

Songs He Made Famous

Al Jolson

Released: November 1946

Charted: January 18, 1947

Recorded: 1913-1946

Peak: 125 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Genre: traditional pop


Song Title (date when original version of song charted, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. April Showers (1/28/22, 111 US)
  2. Swanee (5/8/20, 19 US, sales: 1 million)
  3. California, Here I Come (5/3/24, 16 US)
  4. Rock-A-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody (8/10/18, 18 US)
  5. You Made Me Love You (9/20/13, 17 US)
  6. Ma Blushin’ Rosie
  7. Sonny Boy (1928)
  8. My Mammy (6/9/28, 2 US)


3.650 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)


About the Album:

Songs He Made Famous was a collection of songs featured in The Jolson Story, a movie musical telling the somewhat ficitionalized story of Al Jolson. The movie tells of a young Jolson discovered at a burlesque show and how he runs off to join the act after his Jewish father forbids it. He later ends up as part of a minstrel show when the blackface entertainer passes out drunk and Jolson takes his place.

Jolson meets an up-and-coming dancer Julie Benson (modeled after Jolson’s real-life wife Ruby Keeler) and they fall in love. She is not fond of show business, however, and wants him to quit. He eventually does, refusing to sing for any reason. However, he is persuaded to sing the song his parents danced to at their wedding when he attends their anniversary party. He is then coaxed into going to a nightclub, where the crowd demands a song. He ends up taking over the show. Julie leaves, knowing he’s happier than he has been in a long time. The movie won Academy Awards for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, and Best Sound Recording.

Songs He Made Famous featured re-recordings of Jolson’s biggest hits from 1913 to 1928 and served as the soundtrack for the movie. It was initially issued as a 4-record 78 rpm set in 1946 and rereleased as a vinyl LP in 1949. With 25 weeks at #1 and 61 weeks on the Billboard album charts, it ranks in the top 10 for albums of longevity and top 50 #1 albums from 1940-1954. JW:566-7 A second collection of re-recordings from the movie was issued as Souvenir Album and spent 10 weeks atop the album chart.

The re-recorded versions of My Mammy and April Showers charted, hitting numbers 18 and 15 respectively and both selling a million copies. “The Anniversary Song” wasn’t featured on the soundtrack, but the single hit #2 and was also a million seller.

Resources and Related Links:

  • Al Jolson’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • 45
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Record Research, Inc.: Menomonee Falls, WI. Pages 233-5.
  • JW Joel Whitburn (2002). Billboard Pop Hits: Singles & Albums 1940-1954. Record Research, Inc.: Menomonee Falls, WI.
  • WK Wikipedia