#1059: 1976, David Bowie, Wild Is The Wind

by George_East on January 12, 2016

So on to the second song in our David Bowie tribute theme week. David Bowie’s history of cover versions is, to be honest, a bit hit and miss. His album of covers, Pin Ups, feels like what it was: the end of the road for the Ziggy Stardust era. With the exception of his great versions of Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play and the Easybeats’ Friday On the Mind, it is forgettable going through the motions stuff. Then there is that iffy cover of the BeatlesAcross the Universe on Young Americans.

Things would, of course get even worse in the nadir of his career in the mid 80s with that godawful cover of Martha and the Vandellas’ Dancing In The Street, with Mick Jagger.

But he was also capable of recording great cover versions. His cover of Bruce Springsteen’s It’s Hard To Be A Saint In the City is well worth checking out, even if it wasn’t released until the Sound and Vision greatest hits box set in 1989 (having been recorded as long ago as 1975). And there is a case for saying that China Girl is strictly speaking a cover version, even though it was co-written by him as it was originally written for Iggy Pop’s The Idiot (and let’s be honest the Iggy version is better), 6 years prior to appearing on Bowie’s Let’s Dance.

To my mind though this is the greatest cover version he ever recorded. Wild Is The Wind, popularised by Nina Simone on her extraordinary album of the same title in 1959 had originally been recorded by Johnny Mathis two years before.   Covering Nina Simone is a big ask at the best of times. But the Bowie, version from his coked out masterpiece Station To Station, manages to capture the song’s soulfulness while still having that ethereal weirdness that the Bowie of the Thin White Duke period exuded.

Haunting, strange and beautiful.

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