John Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs

vandersliceJohn Vanderslice
John Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs
(Dead Oceans)

An album whose very existence poses questions and offers a few answers, John Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs is a full-length cover of David Bowie’s 1974 album.

Vanderslice is an indie pop artist on the Dead Oceans label, who cuts his music with soulful, literary, and experimental edges. He has eclectic influences to match (David Lynch, William Blake, Robert Lowell, Public Enemy, and Neutral Milk Hotel). This album comes as a reward to donors of a successful Kickstarter campaign for release of the artist’s latest Dead Oceans studio album, Dagger Beach. (There is apparently no official release.)

With the critical mass of cover bands strumming the life out of our favorite artists, we should ask, why a cover album from an original artist?

We must wonder too – why this album? Released in ’74, Diamond Dogs is widely considered Bowie’s swan song to glam rock. Though not lauded as Bowie’s best, the album includes some of the Brit’s best tunes, like “Rebel, Rebel” and “Diamondthunde,” both interestingly covered in a style more minimalist than Bowie, but more psychedelic and rocking than normal Vanderslice fare.

Fans of ephemera might want to scoop this album up: few were made and there has been little fanfare surrounding the release. A product of a changing industry, John Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs is as much a symbol of changes in fundraising as it is a document of an artist’s dynamic evolution.

Then again, who listens to full albums anymore?

The album can be purchased here.

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About Matthew Herzfeld

Matt Herzfeld is a freelance writer, music supervisor and musician, and serves as Music Project Manager for the French Music Office at the French Embassy in the US. He is based in New York City.
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