|Studio album by|
|Released||19 October 1973|
|Recorded||8 July – August 1973|
|Studio||Château d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France|
|David Bowie chronology|
|Singles from Pinups|
Pinups (also referred to as Pin Ups and Pin-Ups) is the seventh studio album by English singer-songwriter 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 Mars – Mick 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).
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.
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. This created tension between the two and Bowie. They were further aggravated when they found out Mike Garson, who played piano on Aladdin Sane, was being paid a bigger wage than the Spiders, who were being paid the same amount as they were from before Bowie's stardom. Woodmansey was subsequently contacted by Garson via telephone call that his services were no longer required. 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.
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. 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. 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).
In the album booklet, Bowie, writing in his own hand, 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. It was shot in Paris for Vogue magazine, but at Bowie's request was used for the album instead.
A version of the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat" was recorded during the sessions. 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
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|Christgau's Record Guide||B–|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Pinups was released on 19 October 1973 by RCA Records under the catalogue number RS 1003 in the UK, 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. 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." 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. 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."
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". 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. Bruce Eder of AllMusic similarly found the album to be out of place with Bowie's output up to that point. 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. 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."
|1.||"Rosalyn"||Jimmy Duncan, Bill Farley||Pretty Things||2:27|
|2.||"Here Comes the Night" (*)||Bert Berns||Them||3:09|
|3.||"I Wish You Would" (*)||Billy Boy Arnold||The Yardbirds||2:40|
|4.||"See Emily Play"||Syd Barrett||Pink Floyd||4:03|
|5.||"Everything's Alright"||Nicky Crouch, John Konrad, Simon Stavely, Stuart James, Keith Karlson||The Mojos||2:26|
|6.||"I Can't Explain"||Pete Townshend||The Who||2:07|
|1.||"Friday on My Mind"||George Young, Harry Vanda||The Easybeats||3:18|
|2.||"Sorrow" (*)||Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, Richard Gottehrer||The McCoys||2:48|
|3.||"Don't Bring Me Down"||Johnnie Dee||Pretty Things||2:01|
|4.||"Shapes of Things"||Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty, Keith Relf||The Yardbirds||2:47|
|5.||"Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere"||Roger Daltrey, Townshend||The Who||3:04|
|6.||"Where Have All the Good Times Gone"||Ray Davies||The Kinks||2:35|
|13.||"Growin' Up" (Previously unreleased; from the early Diamond Dogs sessions)||Bruce Springsteen||Bruce Springsteen||3:26|
|14.||"Port of Amsterdam" (B-side of the "Sorrow" single)||Jacques Brel, trans. Mort Shuman||Jacques Brel||3:19|
Songs marked with a * were not recorded for the first time by the acts listed, but were popularised by them.
- David Bowie – vocals, guitar, tenor and alto saxophone, harmonica, arrangements, backing vocals, Moog synthesiser
- Mick Ronson – guitar, piano, vocals, arrangements
- Trevor Bolder – bass guitar
- Aynsley Dunbar – drums
- Mike Garson – piano, organ, harpsichord, electric piano
- Ken Fordham – baritone saxophone
- G.A. MacCormack – backing vocals
- Ronnie Wood – guitar on "Growin' Up"
- 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)
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||4|
|Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)||6|
|Finnish Album Chart||1|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||8|
|UK Albums Chart||1|
|US Billboard Pop Albums||23|
|French Albums (SNEP)||191|
Certifications and sales
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||147,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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