Tasked with reinterpreting David Bowie’s 1973 classic ’Aladdin Sane’ for the Sound + Vision exhibition as part of the Dublin Bowie Festival we revisited another classic — Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies — a story the decadent high life of the “bright young things” bookended by the death and destruction of the two world wars. This apparently resonated with Bowie; his star being in the ascendancy; touring and exploring the highs and lows of America while Vietnam war was in full swing. The first edition cover of Vile Bodies, the dada influenced title (another Bowie fave) and the crude hand drawn footer type, bleeding into the paper is not quite right, and appropriate for the tone of the album… fractious, discordant in places, sense of impending doom amidst the glitter of the glam. The illustration feels prescient as the Ziggy persona was killed off in the summer of 73 (Aladdin is seen as an extension of this character with some calling the album Ziggy goes to America). This also echoed with ‘Always Crashing in the Same Car’ from ‘Low’ four years later.
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