Sound: By the time of release of the David Bowie cover album, Pinups, Bowie had amassed a large global following for his outlandish characterisations that formed the basis for his two classic albums, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars and Aladin Sane.
As such this album was released largely as a means for Bowie to pay homage to the artists which he enjoyed and drew inspiration from. This results in the album containing an electic range of styles, but the genre still solidly remains very glam rock, with emphasis on the guitar based riffery and that distinctive voice which gave life to Bowie's recording career.
The guitar work remains very solid throughout the album, particularly on the brilliant Pink Floyd cover, See Emily Play, written and performed originally by Syd Barrett (RIP) as well as the Who cover, I Can't Explain and on the Yardbirds cover Shapes Of Things (which seems to have been covered by virtually everyone at some point). Violins and saxophones, as well as all manner of other instruments were used to support the covers as well as add a new dimension which distincts them from the original. Although the covers are distinctive, they still retained the basis formed in the original and Bowie tended not to stray away from familiar terriory in terms of his musical styles.
Pinups entered the UK charts on the 3rd of November, 1973, staying in it for 21 weeks and peaking at Number 1. This was largely due to Bowie's prior successes, rather than the musical appeal of the album.
Although it is one of my favourite albums, looking at it critically, I would have to say that it isn't really very groundbreaking or all that adventurous by any means and ends up leaving listeners scratching their heads, unimpressed. This was evidenced by Blender's rating of Pinups as 1/5.
Keeping in mind my personal opinions of the album as well as musical merit, I can only really justify giving this album an ... // 8
Lyrics: As these are just covers I cannot criticise Bowie on the writing of the lyrics but I will assess his choosing of songs to cover.
In general the songs are quite straightforward, although the ambiguity of some shines through (particularly on See Emily Play). Some of the songs are fantastic lyrically and Bowie's voice only lends to the soulful delivery of these (Sorrow, which was done absolutely perfectly, with a sombre violin introduction and restrained instrumental performances).
The vocal performances range in this album from melodious, to downright obscure (the chorus of See Emily Play, for example, although I do not necessarily believe this gave a negative impact to the song).
If you focus solely on vocal performance you will not be surprised, it is usual Bowie.
Standout tracks vocally are: See Emily Play, Sorrow, Rosalyn, I Can't Explain, Shapes Of Things. // 9
Overall Impression: Finally, a place where I can rate it based on what I think, rather than looking at the album critically.
I am a huge David Bowie fan and I have to be honest, I thought this album was brilliant. The covers were all of songs that fit in to my musical tastes and likes. It was business as usual, with Bowie's distinctive style and Mick Ronson's growling guitar riffs standing out.
The most impressive tracks are the same as I listed for the 'Lyrics' section above, with all the songs proving to be strong covers. In the case of See Emily Play, Shapes Of Things And I Can't Explain I do not necessarily think Bowie bettered the song, although he certainly reinterpreted the songs in a way that was both interesting and listenable.
You usually see this album here in Australia going for about $10 which is hardly anything at all so if it were lost or stolen I would not have any hesitation in re-purchasing it. Although not an album that received overly positive critical acclaim I believe it is still one of Bowie's stronger works. // 10