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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ava Cherry - "The Astronettes Sessions" (David Bowie)

Ava Cherry - The Astronettes Sessions
CD, Album, Remastered, Reissue, UK, 2009
Black Barbarella Records

In the middle of the cocaine haze, David Bowie made a secret masterpiece of a recording.  The Astronettes Sessions are a bit of a mystery to me.  Was it ever meant to be an official release of any sort?   I have seen this under the heading of an Astronettes recording, and now under Ava Cherry, who was Bowie’s backup singer in the Young Americans era.   But it is not really an Ava Cherry album, due that she doesn’t sing lead in all the songs.   For instance Bowie sings “I am Devine.”   Some of the vocals are taken care of by long-term Bowie pal Geoff MacComack as well as by Cherry.

Nevertheless this is a fantastic Bowie album.  Whatever they are demos for other singers or Bowie hiding his identity in front of The Astronettes, this is really the little sister album to Young Americans.  Bowie’s cover choices are interesting, everything from Roy Harper to Frank Zappa (great choice by the way), and Bruce Springsteen.  On one level there is something very Broadway about it all.  But without a doubt it has traces of the Young Americans vibe running through the album.  The standout tracks are “I am Devine,” Zappa’s “How Could I Be Such A Fool,” and the great “I am a Laser.”   Also it is interesting that there is a version of “God Only Knows” which he did later for his “Tonight” album.  It seems that Bowie doesn’t throw out his ideas, but uses it later when he sees fit to do so.   Like his Toy this is another lost Bowie album, and I think its fantastic.