Holy Holy: Live The Man Who Sold The World! – album review
Holy Holy – Live The Man Who Sold The World!
CD | DL | LP
A live recording of Tony Visconti And Woody Woodmansey’s band, Holy Holy, from O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 22 September 2014.
This Album has been diligently re-recorded live in London, at theO2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, by two of the musicians and a cast of like minded souls, gathered together in the Autumn of 2014. The original L.P. vinyl, of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ was released in 1970 in the U.S.A., and 1971 in the U.K., it was released again in 1972. Tony Visconti on bass, and Woody Woodmansey on drums. They played along with the Late Great Mick Ronson, a genius guitar player, that had been classically trained, and on vocals David Bowie an artist that went on to create the Legend of ‘ ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS ‘, with a great input and influence from his then wife. The very talented, very beautiful, Angie Bowie, she really was the Rock Goddess of Glam, very Stylish! The album ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars ‘ changed the total landscape of Music and Popular Culture. On this album we have Woody Woodmansey on the drums, the only remaining Spider left, as Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder, bass player, have sadly passed on, Tony Visconti produced the original ‘ Man Who Sold the World’ album, he also was the producer for ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’,1972, so he really is an Honorary Spider, who perfected the astonishing, bliss sound. This album comes in two discs.
The first disc is’ The Man Who Sold The World’ in its entirety. The second disc is a collection of songs celebrating works from, the 1971 album ‘Hunky Dory’, 1972 ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ and another character Bowie created called Aladdin Sane 1973, album of the same name ‘Aladdin Sane ‘. Beatles song from 1962 called ‘ Love me do’.
Talk about width of a circle, with these two Elder Statesmen of Rock Royalty, they have gone full circle. Coming together with All the Madmen, or should I say, The Supermen, and Women, of Punk / Post Punk / Electro / Pop / Rock / All of them in one way or another influenced by the lingo, looks, lyrics, fascination, fashion, mime, music, artistic ability, and creativity of one Mr. David Bowie. The songs are performed with zest and passion by very, very experienced artists at the very top of their game. The quality of the vocals and musicianship is practically note perfect. The album is performed in chronological order. This is Not, B. K.
The album starts off with Width of a Circle, which takes us on a heavy metal journey, it lasts just over 8 mins and is quite intoxicating. Glen Gregory ( Heaven 17 ) is on vocals, awe inspiring guitar by James Stevenson (Generation X), (The Cult ), (International Swingers ), drumming by Woody is fantastic and the brooding, bubbling, brilliant, bass, by Tony Visconti is very evident throughout! The next song All the Madmen is treated with dignity and respect. I can’t help but think of his great ( Heaven 17 ) song, ‘ Let me go’, Glen does a terrific version on vocals, the synth, bass and drums are particularly good. This song is allegedly about ‘Terry’ a very troubled guy who was a ‘tortured soul’,’librium’ is mentioned in the song, a drug used to treat ‘anxiety’ and ‘alcohol withdrawal’. Black Country Rock is heavily influenced by…… the Late Marc Bolan, another musical genius, the bass playing is exceptional on this, highly enjoyable. There is a Guest singer on the song called After All, the Velvet voice of Marc Almond from Electro / Post Glam / movers and shakers ( Soft Cell ) Marc really does this song justice, his vocals are tremendous, as are the backing vocals the Ronson Girls, Mick’s Daughter Lisa and Niece Hannah. Synthesizer is fabulous. There is a part in the middle of the song, for some reason reminds me of a Fairground, or Circus, then again, this is a ‘Rock n Roll Circus’ of sorts.
Running Gun Blues is the shortest song on the album at 3.12.
Vocals in my opinion are strained as also on the next Saviour Machine. Song 7) She Shook Me Cold, starts off, sounds a bit like Hendrix, the guitar playing throughout the album is of such a high standard and quality it could stand quite easily beside Mick Ronson, Jimi Hendrix, Tony lommi.
Number 8) The Man Who Sold the World, this the title track is sung beautifully by Glen Gregory, the bass and drumming are excellent. This song was a hit for the iconic Female Scottish singer called Lulu it peaked in the U.K. charts at number 3, in 1974 it was produced by Bowie and Spiders Guitarist Mick Ronson. In 1994 the Legendary Grunge Icon Kurt Cobain, performed this song on ‘MTV Unplugged in New York’, with his band Nirvana, on drums was the now Legendary Foo Fighter’s singer/ guitarist, Dave Grohl. This performance spawned a new generation of Bowie music lovers! The last song on the album is called The Supermen and is a super song to finish off with. Great backing vocals, guitaring, and amazing drumming from the wonderful Woody Woodmansey. Disc one runs at 43.54 mins.
This has 12 songs on it, most of the songs are sung with gusto by Heaven 17 frontman Glen Gregory.
First off we have Life on Mars, from the album ‘Hunky Dory’ what can I say, the song is a classic, the lyrics are awe inspiring, Great keyboards, guitar, a haunting experience. Next, Hang onto Yourself from Ziggy Stardust, this is a fast rocking song,’She’s a funky- thigh collector Layin’on ‘lectric dreams’, backing vocals superb. Number 3) Another gem, the Song Ziggy Stardust, a true classic, I love it timeless,’ Now Ziggy really sang screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo’. Saxophone on this is great, played by one of the Greatest sax players in the United Kingdom, Mr. Steve Norman of Spandau Ballet. This song was also a hit by Bauhaus in 1982, When it reached number 15 in the U.K. charts, Bauhaus a Post Punk / Goth rock band / that derived their name from a ‘ German Art Movement ‘ from 1919, did a barn storming version, with lots of frantic fuelled adrenalin, on display. Peter Murphy appeared on stage to be the long lost love child of Ziggy Stardust. Punk / indie / anarcho / band, with Steve ignorant and Penny Rimbaud called their band ‘ Crass ‘ they took it from the line in the song Ziggy Stardust. ‘ the kids were just crass ‘ Mr. Gregory does it justice. However the next song,
4) Watch that Man from the album Aladdin Sane, I found the version of this song to be a bit cheesey, the vocals poor. Incidentally Lulu did a snappy version of ‘ Watch that Man’ for the B. side of T. M.W.S.T.W.
Next 5) Cracked Actor, boring, apart from Woody on drums, lacks enthusiasm. It is also from Aladdin Sane, would drive a lad insane! It is extremely hard on those last two songs to be positive.
6) Is a breath of fresh air, the song from Ziggy Stardust, called Lady Stardust, this is sung with such grace by Lisa Ronson Daughter of Mick, and ‘the band were all together’! Very enjoyable.
Next 7) The Song that Changed the World, when Bowie / Ziggy blasted out from our Television Screens to go into orbit! Starman,a major hit for David Bowie it got to Number 10 in the U.K. charts, when it was shown on BBC1 on ‘Top of the Pops’ ( weekly chart results programme, shown on a Thursday night), in 1972, no one had seen anything like it, this ‘Androgynous Creature with Orange Flame Spiked Hair’, at the front, and flowing down the back of his neck. This sparked a Revolution in haircuts, hairstyles for boys and girls, In the days of 3 Television Channels. I think Gary Kemp gives a valiant effort on this classic, it is a tall order from him to cover this monster hit, he does an emotive fan version Gary Kemp is on vocals, guitarist from Spandau Ballet, not a natural singer but give him ten out of ten for getting into the spirit of things, his voice at time sounding a bit punky.
Number 8) Time, this is a fantastic version, vocals are good, the keyboards are great, the guitaring is absolutely awesome. This is another classic song from the ‘Aladdin Sane ‘Album. It is such a shame one of the words used is so vulgar, and crass, , because it would have been great to listen to on the radio! It is interesting to note that drummer Dylan Howe plays the drums on this song. Dylan is becoming a very established drummer playing with the ‘Blockheads'( Ian Dury’s old group ) and drummer in the ‘Wilko Johnson Band’. Dylan Howe is another artist influenced by the work of David Bowie, in fact last year Dylan brought out an album called ‘ Subterraneans ‘ the title taken from the last song on the album’ Low ‘an album with his interpretation of several Bowie instrumentals, from ‘Low’ 1977 and the album ‘Heroes’ 1977, Dylan is the son of legendary Prog rock guitarist, Steve Howe, guitarist with Yes. He is also married to one of ( ‘Louder than Words’, Festival Biographers. A Biographer of Rock / Post Punk / R n B / Zoe Howe, ) in fact Dylan Howe got the blessing from the Thin White Duke himself for performing, his interpretation in a different manner, of these classic instrumentals..
Next, 9 ) The song 5 years, a classic from the mind blowing album Ziggy Stardust, brilliant version, Woody’s drumming, Glen Gregorys’ vocals well suited to this song they blend together very well, like a well oiled machine, Steve Norman is great on saxaphone, at the end of the song Glen Gregory makes a comment regarding Woody’s drumming. He says ‘ The legend drummer, what an iconic piece of drumming that is.’
10) We have Moonage Daydream, another great song,from Ziggy Stardust, for me on this song I really like the sound of the flute played by Chris Constantinou.
11) The song White light/ White heat written by Lou Reed. This song I thought was average, shame they did not do’ Queen Bitch’ from Hunky Dory instead, they still would have been paying homage to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, and that song rocks!
12 ) To finish off we are given a medley, first Jean Genie from the Aladdin Sane Album, the album that has an iconic cover of Bowie with a lightning flash across his face. Then the Beatles debut single, a song from 1962 their debut .’ Love me do’ slips in very well to the song Jean Genie, a song incidentally that inspired Scottish singer, Jim Kerr to call his band ‘ Simple Minds ‘ after the line ‘so simple minded ‘ This is in my opinion a great album, put together by great musicians, and produced by one of the World’s Greatest Producers, if not the Best. I would give the album 7 out of 10. I think Marc Almond should have sang on more songs and Lisa Ronson. This by no means reflects on Glen Gregory or Gary Kemp just boils down to song choice. There is only one David Bowie, with a voice that is so adaptable and versatile. I am very glad that the artists involved with Holy Holy have not tried to sound like Bowie clones, and have given us their brand, and interpretation, of how an Iconic Album should sound. Also of note on this album Paul Cuddeford guitar, stirling job, Erdal Kizilcay keyboards, Erdal has worked on a number of projects with Bowie, most notable the 1986 Iggy Pop album ‘ Blah, Blah, Blah’, where upon he played nearly all the instruments. He also played on the 1987 Bowie album ‘Never Let Me Down’ the 1995 Bowie album’ Outside’ He has toured with Bowie in 1987 ‘ The Glass Spider Tour ‘ and in 1990 ‘ Sound and Vision Tour ‘ My only real complaint is with the Album Cover, I find it extremely bland, and feel that there was not a lot of thought put into it. For an album like this,. that knocks your socks off, an album cover that made you stop and think, would have been more appropriate.
Disc 2 runs at 54.16 mins.
To finish off on a good note, I do hope’ Holy Holy’ bring out a DVD, of the best, of the best, live, definitely would be worth waiting for, after all! David Bowie has given ‘Holy Holy’ his support
and backing by putting their details on his very own website!
You can get details on Holy Holy at the following link: holyholymusic.com
Twitter: @Woody’s Holy Holy
All words by Tony Earley, all photos by Melanie Smith. More writing by Tony on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive and more photos by Melanie at her website: mudkissphotography.co.uk.