Diamond Dogs

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Diamond Dogs
Diamond dogs.jpg
Studio album by
Released24 May 1974 (1974-05-24)[1]
RecordedJanuary–February 1974
StudioOlympic Studios and Island Studios, London; Ludolph Studios, Nederhorst den Berg, Netherlands
GenreGlam rock, art rock
ProducerDavid Bowie
David Bowie chronology
Pin Ups
Diamond Dogs
David Live
Singles from Diamond Dogs
  1. "Rebel Rebel"
    Released: 15 February 1974
  2. "Diamond Dogs"
    Released: 14 June 1974
  3. "1984"
    Released: July 1974

Diamond Dogs is the eighth studio album by the English musician David Bowie, released on 24 May 1974 by RCA Records. Thematically, it was a marriage of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and Bowie's own glam-tinged vision of a post-apocalyptic world. Bowie had wanted to make a theatrical production of Orwell's book and began writing material after completing sessions for his 1973 album Pin Ups, but the author's estate denied the rights.[2] The songs wound up on the second half of Diamond Dogs instead where, as the titles indicated, the Nineteen Eighty-Four theme was prominent. The album is ranked number 995 in All-Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd. edition, 2000) [3] and number 447 in NME's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[4]

Production and style[edit]

Though the album was recorded and released after the 'retirement' of Ziggy Stardust in mid-1973, and featured its own lead character in Halloween Jack ("a real cool cat" who lives in the decaying "Hunger City"), Ziggy was seen to be still very much alive in Diamond Dogs, as evident from Bowie's haircut on the cover and the glam-trash style of the first single "Rebel Rebel".[2] As was the case with some songs on Aladdin Sane, the influence of the Rolling Stones was also evident, particularly in the chugging title-track.[5] Elsewhere, however, Bowie had moved on from his earlier work with the epic song suite, "Sweet Thing"/"Candidate"/"Sweet Thing (Reprise)", whilst "Rock 'n' Roll with Me" and the Shaft-inspired wah-wah guitar style of "1984" provided a foretaste of Bowie's next, 'plastic soul', phase. The original vinyl album ended with a juddering refrain Bruh/bruh/bruh/bruh/bruh, the first syllable of "(Big) Brother", repeats incessantly.[6] "Sweet Thing" was Bowie's first try at William S. Burroughs' cut-up style of writing, which Bowie would continue to use for the next 25 years.[7]

Although Diamond Dogs was the first Bowie album since 1969 to not feature any of the Spiders from Mars, the backing band made famous by Ziggy Stardust, many of the arrangements were already worked out and played on tour with Mick Ronson prior to the studio recordings, including "1984" and "Rebel Rebel". In the studio, however, Herbie Flowers played bass with drums being shared between Aynsley Dunbar and Tony Newman. In a move that surprised some commentators, Bowie himself took on the lead guitar role previously held by Ronson, producing what NME critics Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray described as a "scratchy, raucous, semi-amateurish sound that gave the album much of its characteristic flavour".[8] Diamond Dogs was also a milestone in Bowie's career as it reunited him with Tony Visconti, who provided string arrangements and helped mix the album at his own studio in London. Visconti would go on to co-produce much of Bowie's work for the rest of the decade.[2]


The cover artwork features Bowie as a striking half-man, half-dog grotesque painted by Belgian artist Guy Peellaert, based on photographs of Bowie by Terry O'Neill. It was controversial as the full image on the gatefold cover showed the hybrid's genitalia. The genitalia were thus airbrushed out from the 1974 LP's sleeve on most releases. Very few copies of this original cover made their way into circulation at the time of the album's release.[9] According to the record-collector publication Goldmine price guides, these albums have been among the most expensive record collectibles of all time, as high as thousands of US dollars for a single copy.[10] The original image was included on the Rykodisc/EMI rerelease of the album in 1990, and subsequent reissues have included the uncensored artwork (the 1990 packaging also resurrected a rejected inner gatefold image featuring Bowie in a sombrero cordobés holding onto a ravenous dog; like the cover, this artwork was a Guy Peellaert image based on a photograph captured by Terry O'Neill[11]).

Release and aftermath[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 stars[12]
Blender3/5 stars[13]
Chicago Tribune2/4 stars[14]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[16]
Q5/5 stars[18]
Rolling Stone2/5 stars[19]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2.5/5 stars[20]
Bowie performing during Diamond Dogs Tour, 1974

The record was Bowie's glam swan song; according to author David Buckley, "In the sort of move which would come to define his career, Bowie jumped the glam-rock ship just in time, before it drifted into a blank parody of itself".[2] At the time of its release Bowie described Diamond Dogs as "a very political album. My protest ... more me than anything I've done previously".[22] Disc magazine compared the album to The Man Who Sold the World (1970), while Rock and Sounds both described it as his "most impressive work ... since Ziggy Stardust".[22] It made No. 1 in the UK charts and No. 5 in the US (where the song "Rebel Rebel" proved popular), Bowie's highest stateside placing to that date. In Canada, it was able to repeat its British chart-topping success, hitting No. 1 on the RPM 100 national albums chart in July 1974 and holding it for two weeks.[23]

Diamond Dogs' raw guitar style and visions of urban chaos, scavenging children and nihilistic lovers ("We'll buy some drugs and watch a band / Then jump in a river holding hands") have been credited with anticipating the punk revolution that would take place in the following years.[24] Bowie himself described the Diamond Dogs, introduced in the title song, as: "all little Johnny Rottens and Sid Viciouses really. And, in my mind, there was no means of transport, so they were all rolling around on these roller-skates with huge wheels on them, and they squeaked because they hadn't been oiled properly. So there were these gangs of squeaking, roller-skating, vicious hoods, with Bowie knives and furs on, and they were all skinny because they hadn't eaten enough, and they all had funny-coloured hair. In a way it was a precursor to the punk thing."[5]

Bowie played all of the album's songs except "We Are the Dead" on his Diamond Dogs Tour, recorded and released in two albums, David Live in 1974, and Cracked Actor in 2017. "Rebel Rebel" featured on almost every Bowie tour afterward, "Diamond Dogs" was performed for the Isolar, Outside and A Reality Tours, and "Big Brother/Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family" was resurrected in 1987 for the Glass Spider Tour.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by David Bowie, except where noted[25].

Side one
1."Future Legend"0:58
2."Diamond Dogs"5:56
3."Sweet Thing"3:37
5."Sweet Thing (Reprise)"2:31
6."Rebel Rebel"4:30
Side two
1."Rock 'n' Roll with Me" (Bowie/Warren Peace)3:57
2."We Are the Dead"4:58
4."Big Brother"3:21
5."Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family"1:58
Total length:38:25
  • Sides one and two were combined as tracks 1–11 on CD reissues.

Compact disc releases[edit]

Diamond Dogs was first released on CD by RCA in 1985 with censored cover art. The German (for the European market) and Japanese (for the US market) masters were sourced from different tapes and are not identical for each region.

1990 Rykodisc/EMI[edit]

Dr. Toby Mountain at Northeastern Digital, Southborough, Massachusetts,[26] remastered Diamond Dogs from the original master tapes for Rykodisc in 1990 with two bonus tracks and the original, uncensored, artwork. "Future Legend" stops at 1:01 and "Diamond Dogs" runs 6:04 in this version.

Bonus tracks (1990 Rykodisc/EMI)
  1. "Dodo" (Recorded 1973, previously unreleased) – 2:53
  2. "Candidate" (Demo version, very different musically and lyrically, recorded 1974, previously unreleased) – 5:09

1999 EMI/Virgin[edit]

The album was remastered by Peter Mew at Abbey Road Studios, and released without bonus material.

2004 EMI/Virgin[edit]

The third in a series of 30th Anniversary 2CD Editions, this release included a remastered version of Diamond Dogs on the first disc. The second disc contains eight tracks, five of which had been previously released on the Sound + Vision box set in 1989 or as bonus tracks on the 1990–92 Rykodisc/EMI reissues.

Bonus CD (2004 EMI/Virgin)[edit]

All tracks are written by David Bowie, except where noted.

1."1984/Dodo" (Recorded 1973 for proposed "1984" musical) 5:29
2."Rebel Rebel" (From "Rebel Rebel" US single A-Side, 1974) 3:00
3."Dodo" (Also known as "You Didn't Hear It From Me", written for proposed "1984" musical, recorded 1973) 2:53
4."Growin' Up" (Recorded 1973)Bruce Springsteen3:25
5."Candidate" (Demo version, very different musically and lyrically, recorded 1974 for proposed "1984" musical) 5:09
6."Diamond Dogs" (K-tel The Best of Bowie edit, 1980) 4:41
7."Candidate" (Intimacy mix, 2001) 2:58
8."Rebel Rebel" (2003 version, from Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle soundtrack) 3:09

2016 remaster[edit]

In 2016, the album was remastered for the Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976) box set.[27] It was released in CD, vinyl, and digital formats, both as part of this compilation and separately.[28]


Adapted from the Diamond Dogs liner notes.[29]



Covers and references in popular culture[edit]

  • The Serbian and former Yugoslav band Kozmetika was originally named Dijamantski Psi, which means Diamond Dogs in Serbian.[48]
  • An organization in the video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was named after the album. Director Hideo Kojima originally wanted to open the game with the eponymous song, but his team voted against the idea,[49] with Kojima eventually choosing a cover of "The Man Who Sold the World".
  • The songwriter John Vanderslice covered the album in its entirety, releasing his version in 2013 as Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs.[50]
  • In Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge! the performers in the eponymous cabaret are referred to as "Diamond Dogs", in reference to the album and song. The film is highly referential to popular music, including a pivotal medley that includes the song "Heroes".
  • The Last Shadow Puppets mentioned a "Diamond Dog" in their single "Everything You've Come to Expect" off the album with the same name.
  • In The Venture Bros., the Diamond Dogs are a pack of robotic dog-monsters created by the Guild of Calamitous Intent. Furthermore, the Sovereign (the leader of the Guild of Calamitous Intent) is said to be a shapeshifter in the same form of the half-human, half-dog creatures on the cover.
  • In Con Air (1997), the character played by Ving Rhames holds the moniker of "Diamond Dog". He was the general in a black supremacist military group known as the Black Guerillas and was found guilty of blowing up a meeting of National Rifle Association members, claiming "they represented the basest negativity of the white race." During his incarceration he wrote a book titled "Reflections in a Diamond Eye", which was reviewed by the New York Times as "a wake-up call for the black community."
  • English gothic rock band Skeletal Family is named after the song "Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family".


  1. ^ "Diamond Dogs album is forty today". Archived from the original on 31 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination—David Bowie: The Definitive Story: pp. 208–17
  3. ^ "Rocklist". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  4. ^ "NME's The 500 Greatest Albums". Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p. 63
  6. ^ Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: pp. 63–64
  7. ^ Kamp, Thomas (1985). "David Bowie: The Wild-Eyed Boy 1964–1984" (1st ed.). O'Sullivan, Woodside & Co. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Carr & Murray 1981). Op cit: p.14
  9. ^ Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p. 63
  10. ^ Dave Thompson (2015). Goldmine Record Album Price Guide: p. 69
  11. ^ Terry O'Neill (1985). Legends. Viking Adult. ISBN 978-0-670-80933-2
  12. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Diamond Dogs – David Bowie". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  13. ^ Raihala, Ross. "David Bowie: Diamond Dogs". Blender. Archived from the original on 22 November 2005. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  14. ^ Kot, Greg (10 June 1990). "Bowie's Many Faces Are Profiled On Compact Disc". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (September 1974). "The Christgau Consumer Guide". Creem. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  16. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "David Bowie". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  17. ^ Walters, Barry (22 January 2016). "David Bowie: Diamond Dogs". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  18. ^ "David Bowie: Diamond Dogs". Q (158): 140–41. November 1999.
  19. ^ Kemp, Mark (8 July 2004). "David Bowie: Diamond Dogs: 30th Anniversary Edition". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  20. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "David Bowie". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 97–99. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  21. ^ Griffiths, Nick (November 1990). "Diamond Jubilation". Select (5): 124.
  22. ^ a b Nicholas Pegg (2000). Op cit: pp. 289–291
  23. ^ RPM Top Albums Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine at Collections Canada Archived 2 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  24. ^ Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Op cit: p.64
  25. ^ David Bowie. Diamond Dogs (RCA Records, 1974).
  26. ^ "Northeastern Digital home page". Archived from the original on 8 December 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2008.
  27. ^ Who Can I Be Now? (1974 – 1976) details Archived 11 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine at davidbowie.com
  28. ^ Bowie ‘Who Can I Be Now’ vinyl available separately and competitively priced at superdeluxeedition.com
  29. ^ Diamond Dogs (CD booklet). David Bowie. RCA Records. 1974.CS1 maint: others (link)
  30. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  31. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 21, No. 24". RPM. 3 August 1974. Archived from the original (PHP) on 24 February 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  32. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste". infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2014. Note: user must select 'David BOWIE' from drop-down.
  33. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1974" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  34. ^ "norwegiancharts.com David Bowie – Diamond Dogs" (ASP). Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  35. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  36. ^ "Swedish Charts 1972–1975/Kvällstoppen – Listresultaten vecka för vecka > Juni 1974 > 11 Juni" (PDF). hitsallertijden.nl (in Swedish). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2014.Note: Kvällstoppen combined sales for albums and singles in the one chart; Diamond Dogs peaked at the number-four on the list in the 1st week of June 1974.
  37. ^ "David Bowie > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  38. ^ "allmusic ((( Diamond Dogs > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  39. ^ "Album Search: David Bowie – Diamond Dogs" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  40. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1974". RPM. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  41. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1974 par InfoDisc" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 27 October 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  42. ^ "The Official UK Charts Company : ALBUM CHART HISTORY". Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  43. ^ "Les Meilleures Ventes de CD / Albums "Tout Temps"". Info Disc. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  44. ^ "French album certifications – David Bowie – Diamond Dogs" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  45. ^ "From the Music Captiols of the World - Stockholm". Billboard. 22 June 1974. p. 50. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  46. ^ "British album certifications – David Bowie – Diamond Dogs". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Diamond Dogs in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  47. ^ "American album certifications – David Bowie – Diamond Dogs". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  48. ^ Janjatović, Petar (2007), EX YU ROCK enciklopedija 1960–2006, p. 120, ISBN 978-86-905317-1-4
  49. ^ "スネークの復讐は,プレイヤー自身の復讐。「METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES」小島秀夫監督への単独インタビューを掲載". Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  50. ^ Vanderslice, John. "Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs". BandCamp. Retrieved 10 January 2016.

External links[edit]