The eighth studio album by legend David Bowie, Diamond Dogs was released in 1974 during the artist’s peak creative years.
The cover features Bowie as a half-man, half-dog hybrid. During its initial release, the animal’s genitalia could clearly be seen before they were airbrushed out during subsequent printings.
Described as one of his bleakest albums until Blackstar, the album received mixed reviews. His first album not to feature any of the Spiders From Mars, it would also be his last ‘glam’ record. At the time Bowie described the album as his most political one yet, calling it a protest.
Background & themes
After Ziggy was killed off in 1973, Bowie would find a new alter ego for Diamond Dogs, ‘Halloween Jack’ would take the lead on this record. Whereas Ziggy is the saviour of humanity on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, Halloween Jack is just another inhabitant of Hunger City who is looking for easy sex in the world’s dying days. Bleak.
Initially Bowie wanted to create a TV musical adaption of Orwell’s 1984, however failed to secure the rights from the author’s family. So the record became a fusion of Bowie’s and Orwell’s making, it tells the story of a dystopian Manhattan (known as Hunger City on the record).
A change of direction for Bowie
Diamond Dogs would be the last glam rock album for Bowie. Not for the first time in his career would he uncannnily predict the trends of popular music, as glam rock would fade in the mid-70s to give way to punk rock.
After five years of collaboration, the frontman parted way with his backing band The Spiders from Mars. Bowie would play lead guitar, vocals, saxophone, drums and synthesizers. An audacious move that earned mixed feelings, with NME poorly rating his performance on guitar at the time.
Despite having received mixed reviews during its release, the record has aged well and is regarded as one of Bowie’s classics. It’s raw and unique sound has also been credited as paving the way for the punk onslaught of the late 1970s. Personally, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Ziggy’s record but I love ‘Rebel Rebel’ as much as anyone else 🙂