Pin Ups

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Studio album by
Released19 October 1973 (1973-10-19)
Recorded8 July – August 1973[1]
StudioChâteau d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France
David Bowie chronology
Aladdin Sane
Diamond Dogs
Singles from Pinups
  1. "Sorrow"
    Released: 28 September 1973

Pinups (also referred to as Pin Ups and Pin-Ups) is the seventh studio album by English musician David Bowie, released in October 1973 by RCA Records. It is a covers album, featuring songs by bands such as the Pretty Things, the Who, the Yardbirds and Pink Floyd. Like his two previous albums, it was produced by Bowie and Ken Scott and features contributions from two members of Bowie's backing band the Spiders from MarsMick Ronson and Trevor Bolder; Mick Woodmansey was replaced by Aynsley Dunbar on drums. It was recorded in July and August 1973 at the Château d'Hérouville in Hérouville, France.

Preceded by his cover of the McCoys' song "Sorrow", Pinups peaked at No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart, bringing the total number of Bowie albums concurrently on the UK chart to six. However, since release, the album has received generally unfavorable reviews from music critics, many of whom criticised the songs as generally inferior to their original counterparts. It was remastered in 2015 as part of the box set Five Years (1969–1973).[4]


By 1973, Bowie was at his commercial peak. At the end of July, five of his six albums were in the Top 40 and three were in the Top 15, according to biographer David Buckley, an "unprecedented feat" for a solo artist. Although he had intended his next project to be an adaptation of George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, he needed to appease his record label, so Pin Ups was devised as a "stopgap" album.[5]

On the final day of the Ziggy Stardust Tour, 4 July 1973, Bowie unexpectedly announced that "this is the last show we'll ever do". Although this was later understood to mean that Bowie was retiring the Ziggy Stardust character, the announcement came as a surprise to the audience, as well as the Spiders from Mars' members Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey, who were not notified in advance of the speech.[6] This created tension between the two and Bowie.[7] They were further aggravated when they found out Mike Garson, who played piano on Aladdin Sane,[8] was being paid a bigger wage than the Spiders, who were being paid the same amount as they were from before Bowie's stardom.[9] Woodmansey was subsequently contacted by Garson via telephone call that his services were no longer required.[7] Garson and Mick Ronson were guaranteed positions on the new album, alongside Aladdin Sane players Ken Fordham and Geoffrey MacCormack. Session drummer Aynsley Dunbar replaced Woodmansey and Bolder was invited back after bassist Jack Bruce of the band Cream declined.[7]


According to co-producer Ken Scott, the LP was originally conceived as "a complete opposite of [Bowie's] other albums", consisting of all cover songs except one original composition, and mainly turned towards the US market since "he wanted to do songs that weren't known as well in the States as they were in England", yet eventually the plan was dropped.[10] Pinups was the first of two "1960s nostalgia" albums that Bowie had planned to release. The second, which was planned to be called "Bowie-ing Out," would have contained Bowie covering his favourite American artists, but was never recorded.[11] Bowie also apparently considered making a Pinups sequel: he had compiled a list of songs he wanted to cover, some of which showed up on his later releases of Heathen (2002) and Reality (2003).[12]

In the album booklet, Bowie, writing in his own hand,[13] describes Pinups as:

These songs are among my favourites from the '64–67' period of London. / Most of the groups were playing the Ricky-Tick (was it a 'y' or an 'i'?) -Scene club circuit (Marquee, eel pie island la-la). / Some are still with us. / Pretty Things, Them, Yardbirds, Syd's Pink Floyd, Mojos, Who, Easybeats, Merseys, The Kinks. / Love-on ya!

The woman on the cover with Bowie is 1960s supermodel Twiggy in a photograph taken by her then-manager Justin de Villeneuve.[14] It was shot in Paris for Vogue magazine, but at Bowie's request was used for the album instead.[14]

A version of the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat" was recorded during the sessions.[15] It was never released; Bowie donated the backing track to Mick Ronson for his 1975 album Play Don't Worry.

An insert included with the original LP includes the text "This album is called Pinups" and the title is written as one word, without a hyphen, on the LP cover and spine, although the disc label spells the title with a hyphen.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[16]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[17]
Christgau's Record GuideB–[20]
Rolling Stone(unfavourable)[21]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[22]

Pinups was released on 19 October 1973 by RCA Records under the catalogue number RS 1003 in the UK,[24] only six months after his previous album Aladdin Sane. Pinups entered the UK chart on 3 November 1973 (coincidentally the same day as Bryan Ferry's covers album These Foolish Things) and stayed there for 21 weeks, eventually peaking at No. 1. It brought the total number of Bowie albums concurrently on the UK chart to six.[25] It reentered the chart on 30 April 1983, this time for 15 weeks, peaking at No. 57. In July 1990, it again entered the chart, for one week, at No. 52. The lead single, a cover of the McCoys' "Sorrow", peaked at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart.

Since release, the album has received generally unfavorable reviews from music critics, many of whom criticised the songs as generally inferior to their original counterparts. In a review for Pinups on release, Greg Shaw of Rolling Stone gave the album an unfavorable review, writing, "Although many of the tracks are excellent, none stands up to the originals."[21] He further believed that all the tracks were underproduced and believed Bowie's vocal performance to be the album's "true failure", believing his "excessively mannered voice" was "a ridiculously weak mismatch for the material" and that they were mixed too high to give the tracks the "edge" or "punch" they need to be effective.[21] He concludes his review saying, "while Pinups may be a failure, it is also a collection of great songs, most of which are given a more than adequate, and always loving, treatment. Maybe the fairest conclusion to draw is that Bowie can’t sing any other way, did the best he could, and the result isn’t all that bad."[21]

When reviewing the album as part of the 2015 box set Five Years (1969–1973), Douglas Wolk of Pitchfork gave the album an unfavorable review, calling it a "quick-and-sloppy covers album".[19] Although he believed the album was "more interesting in theory", he found that the execution was sloppy, believing that all the original versions were "vastly" superior and Bowie added nothing interesting to any of them. He further believed that it didn't help that the Spiders from Mars were falling apart when recording it.[19] Bruce Eder of AllMusic similarly found the album to be out of place with Bowie's output up to that point.[16] He continued, "Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane had established Bowie as perhaps the most fiercely original of all England's glam rockers, so an album of covers didn't make any sense and was especially confusing for American fans," further criticising the song choices as unknown.[16] However, Eder went on to praise Bowie's cover of "Sorrow", arguing that it's a "distinct improvement" over the original. He states that although the album is dismissed by many as just another covers album, Eder views it as an artistic statement and in the context of Bowie's entire career, it represented a "swan song" for the Spiders from Mars and an "interlude" between the first and second phases of his international career, with his next album Diamond Dogs being the end of his glam rock era. He concludes his review writing, "It's not a bad bridge between the two, and it has endured across the decades."[16]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Originally byLength
1."Rosalyn"Jimmy Duncan, Bill FarleyPretty Things2:27
2."Here Comes the Night" (*)Bert BernsThem3:09
3."I Wish You Would" (*)Billy Boy ArnoldThe Yardbirds2:40
4."See Emily Play"Syd BarrettPink Floyd4:03
5."Everything's Alright"Nicky Crouch, John Konrad, Simon Stavely, Stuart James, Keith KarlsonThe Mojos2:26
6."I Can't Explain"Pete TownshendThe Who2:07
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Originally byLength
1."Friday on My Mind"George Young, Harry VandaThe Easybeats3:18
2."Sorrow" (*)Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, Richard GottehrerThe McCoys2:48
3."Don't Bring Me Down"Johnnie DeePretty Things2:01
4."Shapes of Things"Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty, Keith RelfThe Yardbirds2:47
5."Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere"Roger Daltrey, TownshendThe Who3:04
6."Where Have All the Good Times Gone"Ray DaviesThe Kinks2:35
Bonus Tracks (1990 Rykodisc/EMI)
No.TitleWriter(s)Originally byLength
13."Growin' Up" (Previously unreleased; from the early Diamond Dogs sessions)Bruce SpringsteenBruce Springsteen3:26
14."Port of Amsterdam" (B-side of the "Sorrow" single)Jacques Brel, trans. Mort ShumanJacques Brel3:19

Songs marked with a * were not recorded for the first time by the acts listed, but were popularised by them.


Album credits per the Pin Ups liner notes and biographer Nicholas Pegg.[24][7]

Production personnel
  • David Bowie – producer
  • Ken Scott – producer
  • Dennis MacKay – engineer
  • Andy Scott – engineer
  • Dr. Toby Mountain – mastering engineer (1990)
  • Jonathan Wyner – mastering assistant (1990)
  • Peter Mew – mastering engineer (1999)
  • Nigel Reeve – mastering engineer (1999)



  1. ^ Thompson 2006, p. 313.
  2. ^ Perrone, Pierre (16 August 2013). "Cover albums: The best and worst releases in the genre". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 July 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  3. ^ Lariviere, Aaron. "David Bowie Albums From Worst To Best: Pin Ups". Stereogum. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  4. ^ Five Years (1969–1973) (Box set liner notes). David Bowie. UK, Europe & US: Parlophone. 2015. DBXL 1.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  5. ^ Buckley 2005, pp. 168–169.
  6. ^ Buckley 2005, pp. 165, 167.
  7. ^ a b c d Pegg 2016, p. 638.
  8. ^ Pegg 2016, p. 948.
  9. ^ Buckley 2005, p. 167.
  10. ^ Scott, Ken (2012), Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust: Off-the-record with The Beatles, Bowie, Elton, and so much more. (1st ed.), Alfred Music Publishing Co.
  11. ^ Kamp, Thomas (1985), David Bowie: The Wild-Eyed Boy 1964–1984 (1st ed.), O'Sullivan, Woodside & Co.
  12. ^ Buskin, Richard (October 2003), "David Bowie & Tony Visconti Recording Reality", Sound on Sound, archived from the original on 6 June 2015, retrieved 30 July 2013
  13. ^ "Image". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  14. ^ a b Phillips, Sarah (16 May 2012). "Justin de Villeneuve's best photograph: David Bowie and Twiggy". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  15. ^ Pegg 2016, p. 639.
  16. ^ a b c d Eder, Bruce. "Pin Ups – David Bowie Album Review". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 5 September 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  17. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press.
  18. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 151. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. ^ a b c Wolk, Douglas (1 October 2015). "David Bowie: Five Years 1969–1973". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: B". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 22 February 2019 – via
  21. ^ a b c d Shaw, Greg (19 July 1973). "Pin Ups". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  22. ^ "David Bowie: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 30 May 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  23. ^ Griffiths, Nick (August 1990). "Stardust Memories". Select. p. 116. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  24. ^ a b Pin Ups (liner notes). David Bowie. UK: RCA Victor. 1973. RS 1003.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  25. ^ Sandford 1997, p. 115.
  26. ^ a b c "allmusic ((( Pin Ups > Credits )))". allmusic. Retrieved 15 July 2008.
  27. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
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  29. ^ " – David Bowie – Pinups". Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  30. ^ "David Bowie | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
  31. ^ "allmusic ((( Pin Ups > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic. Retrieved 15 July 2008.
  32. ^ " – David Bowie – Pinups". Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  33. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 426. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  34. ^ "Australian Gold" (PDF). Billboard. 26 October 1974. p. 78. Retrieved 20 November 2019 – via American Radio History.
  35. ^ Lesueur, InfoDisc, Daniel Lesueur, Dominic Durand. "InfoDisc : Les Meilleurs Ventes d'Albums "Tout Temps" (33 T. / Cd / Téléchargement)". Archived from the original on 1 December 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
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External links[edit]