Thursday, January 24, 2008

Track 2: Nightclubbing

I didn't like this song when I first heard it. But then I got my act together.

No other song captures going out late at night quite so well.

"1.. 2.. 1.. 2"

Let's talk about the sounds! Obviously we've got some really processed drums, they give a feeling of claustrophobia. The kick is tuned pretty high and the delay gives a small-sounding ambiance. Notice also the synthesized sound that pans from left to right at each snare hit, that is most likely Bowie playing his Roland Drum machine? If you're listening on headphones you can hear some strange balance problem at 1:21. The vocals lurch to the right. I also hear a mystery "blip" at 1:41, it doesn't sound like this this is a late mute but rather something else.

The unprocessed piano with the synth really combines well to create doomed cabaret sound. Possibly the most overt sound is the loud, reverbed synth siren sound. This sound coupled with the "nuclear bomb" reference makes me think of the cold war or even going nightclubbing in some post-apocalyptic scene. Bowie and Iggy both had some flirtations with Nazi / fascist elements, more on that later.

I love the last chorus where three vocal parts come together. The foreground voices are monotonic while the background one is singing a melody. Overall, Iggy's singing compliments the mood with his drags and decays at the ends of words.

I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that this track was the rhythm section of Michel Santageli and Laurent Thibault. But that's something we hope to discover for sure later on. Phil Palmer (nephew of Kinks' frontman, Ray Davies) was the guitarist who played on this track and according to "Open up and Bleed" he used a telecaster. He was given the instruction to play what he would have heard walking in the streets outside nightclubs.

We'll see this all over this album, but Bowie's production on the guitar sounds are always incredible, always different and always appropriate. Guitar sounds is a definite Bowie strength, and can be heard all over his albums as well.

This track is the most covered song from the album, there's even a YouTube out there with Johnny Depp playing with Iggy.
Johnny and Iggy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On the subject of Nightclubbing's drums, I've always thought that they were from a drum machine. There's an anecdote I've read about them using a drum machine to provide a temp rhythm track for the musicians, and Bowie and Iggy deciding to leave the electronic beat in the final version, not rerecord it with a human drummer as originally planned.