It’s probably best to let singer and keyboard player John Paul Strauss describe the rationale behind this album. ‘During the time we were working on the most recent Ten Jinn release, ‘Sisyphus’, came the very sad news about the passing of David Bowie. At the time (though we were very busy with working on the album and dealing with the upcoming release in 2017) I suggested to the other Ten Jinn members that as soon as ‘Sisyphus’ was completed, we should record a David Bowie tribute record before preparing for live shows or recording the next Ten Jinn record, ‘Worlds (the Four Worlds of the Hopi)’. While I was very excited about the prospect of playing live again and getting on to ‘Worlds’ (I even completed the first draft of the score) I felt very strongly about taking this detour in order to pay my respects to an artist, who was probably the single most important influence in my development as a musician in general and vocalist in particular.
I can’t be the only person who never expected an album like this from Ten Jinn. Since their second album, 1999’s ‘As On A Darkling Plain’, they have cemented a reputation as one of the most interesting progressive rock bands around, so a Bowie tribute album isn’t exactly what one would expect. There haven’t been many progressive bands who have recorded whole albums of covers (Dream Theater of course taking it to the extreme by re-recording complete albums, often very well indeed), let alone of music that us so far away from what one would expect.
What I also found interesting was the track selection, as while of course there are many hits, there are also many missing which one may expect on a collection like this, such as ‘Ashes to Ashes’, ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Suffragette City’, ‘Rebel Rebel’, ‘Young Americans’ etc. There is the feeling that here is a very personal collection, one that has a collective cohesiveness which works incredibly well. What I really enjoyed about the album is that although they have stayed close to the originals, they have also allowed themselves to put their own stamp on the songs. They have played it fairly straight, and consequently it has worked exactly as it was supposed to, namely as a tribute.
One of the real stand outs has to be ‘Dead Man Walking’, which originally featured on the 1997 album ‘Earthling’. While much focus will be on the wonderful acoustic guitars, funky percussion or superb vocals, what really makes this such an essential song is the wonderful fretless bass which adds so much class, warmth and emotion to it. Strauss’s vocals throughout are exemplary, and the whole band sound as if they have been performing Bowie songs their whole lives, such is the skill and joy they bring to this collection. This is a must for any lover of Bowie, as rarely is his material treated with such care.
About ZIGGY BLACKSTAR (A Tribute to David Bowie)
During the time we were working on the most recent Ten Jinn release, Sisyphus, came the very sad news about the passing of David Bowie. At the time (though we were very busy working on the album and dealing with the upcoming release Sisyphus in 2017) we decided that as soon as Sisyphus was completed, we would record a David Bowie tribute record before preparing for live shows or recording the next Ten Jinn Record: “Worlds (the Four Worlds of the Hopi).” While the band was very excited about the prospect of playing live again and getting on to Worlds (John even completed the first draft of the hour-long score) we felt very strongly about taking this detour in order to pay my respects to an artist, who was a very important musical influence for all of the band members in general, and the single most important influence in John’s evolution as vocalist in particular.
Choosing the songs for the record was not an easy thing (as there are so many great Bowie tunes) but one thing we decided on right away was to avoid any of the major hits from the 1980s or things we thought a lot of other people might do (since John was the one doing the lead vocals on the record, we mostly supported him in the suggestions he made). At one point we thought it would be really cool to do a version of Blackstar, but since it was from Bowie’s final album, it seemed perhaps a bit disrespectful to do so soon after his death. In the end, we decided on material mostly from the 1970s (with a couple of tunes from the late 1990s thrown in) that have very deep meaning for us.
ZIGGY BLACKSTAR (A Tribute to David Bowie) Track List
1. I’m Afraid of Americans 04:48
2. Aladdin Sane 05:48
3. Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide 03:04
4. Dead Man Walking 04:06
5. Fame 03:57
6. Future Legend 00:57
7. Diamond Dogs 05:00
8. Life On Mars 04:01
Ziggy Blackstar Album Credits:
The Band: Ten Jinn
John Paul Strauss – lead and backing vocals/keyboards.
Mark Wickliffe – drums/bass/electric guitar/backing vocals.
Ken Skoglund – electric and acoustic guitars.
Mike Matier – electric guitar.
Matt Brown – piano solo (Alladin Sane).
Joe Geiger – fretless bass (Dead Man Walking).
Helena Skoglund – backing vocals (Life on Mars/Fame/Future Legend).
J.T. Holmström – saxophone (Diamond Dogs).
Arranged by: Ten Jinn.
Produced by: John Paul Strauss, Mark Wickliffe, and Ken Skoglund.
Mix engineers: Ken Skoglund (Sound Control Sweden). John Prpich (Radd Studios, Los Angeles).
Mastering engineer: Ken Skoglund (Sound Control Sweden).
Cover Art by Nick Katona (Melodic Revolution Records). Revolution Studios, Orlando, Florida
Vocal editing by Steve Deutsch.
Other Ten Jinn Releases Sisyphus (2018) Melodic Revolution Records CD & Digital Alone (2003) Sweden Rock Records / Musea CD & Digital As On A Darkling Plan (1999) Wildman Records CD & Digital Wildman (1997) Wildman Records CD & Digital
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