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Week 36 | Loving the Alien (The Songs of David Bowie) by Danny Michel (2004)

One day, several years ago, I was sitting in Spot Coffee and heard “Young Americans” come on over the shop’s sound system.  But it wasn’t Bowie singing.  In fact, I didn’t know who was singing.  But it was a really good rendition.  Then, “Young Americans” was followed by “Moonage Daydream.”  Then “Ashes to Ashes.”  All really, really good.  No ideas who the performer was.

It turns out the performer was Danny Michel, who had put out an album of Bowie covers.  Who is Danny Michel?  I still haven’t encountered him outside the context of this album.  According to his web site, he has several albums and is on tour.  Several of his shows are sold out.  He apparently has a following.  In any case, he also is responsible for my favorite Bowie cover album.

Michel chose an odd assortment to cover.  In addition to the aforementioned songs, he included “Always Crashing in the Same Car,” “Andy Warhol,” “D.J.,” “Big Brother,” “Red Sails,” “God Knows I’m Good,” “Sons of the Silent Age” and “Lady Stardust.” (Oddly enough, it does not include a cover of the song, “Loving the Alien”).   The only unifying theme is that they are all from the period of 1970-1980.  Nonetheless, Michel unites them with his own style, which manages to stay true to the original songs while coming off as distinct.  According to the musician’s web site, Bowie himself liked the album.

I suspect there are many performers like Danny Michel— not well know, but prolific.  Another band I came across during this project that falls into this category is Shearwater, which covered the entirety of “Lodger.”  I found out too late that Shearwater recently performed three converts, covering the entire Berlin Trilogy in New York City.  Sadly, none of these performances are captured on CDs for sale. 

Fortunately, “Loving the Alien” is for sale.  But as much as I like the album, I don’t have much more to say about it.  At the end of the day, it is a cover album.  But its a very good one. 

Note: The video is of Danny Michel singing “Space Oddity,” which is not on the album.  I’m including it because it shows video of Michel, rather than just audio of one of the songs off the album.

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