Wednesday, June 11, 2008

- Best Videos Ever #2: Ashes to Ashes - David Bowie

I've never done good things
I've never done bad things
I never did anything out of the blue

The video clip for "Ashes to Ashes" was one of the most iconic of the 1980s and with good reason. Costing £250,000, it was at the time the most expensive music video ever made, although I’d always though it’d been made on the cheap for about a tennerbefore I did my research for this post. It incorporated scenes both in solarised colour and in stark black-and-white, featuring Bowie in the gaudy Pierrot costume that became the dominant visual representation of his Scary Monsters phase. Also making an appearance were Steve Strange and other members of the London Blitz scene, including Judith Franklin and Darla Jane Gilroy, forerunners of the New Romantic movement that was heavily influenced by Bowie's music and image.

scary clown Bowie

Bowie has described the shot of himself and the Blitz Kids marching towards the camera in front of a bulldozer as symbolising "oncoming violence". Although it appears that two of the Blitz Kids bow at intervals, they were actually trying to pull their gowns away from the bulldozer in an effort to avoid them getting caught.

Scenes of the singer in a space suit - that suggested a hospital life-support system - and others showing him locked in what appeared to be a padded room, made reference to both Major Tom and to Bowie's new, rueful interpretation of him. Contrary to myth and legend, the elderly woman lecturing Bowie at the end of the clip was, sadly, not his real mum. Is this the best song ever made? Depending on my mood on a given day I’d argue that yes, it is.


Anonymous said...

I've always found this video a bit strange, because the beach scene was shot in the village where I grew up - Pett Level. The bulldozer was owned by the local river board and was used to repair the sea defences - they must have chucked the driver a tenner to follow them along the sea wall.

Steve Moon

Anonymous said...

I also thought this was done on the cheap but I do like the effect.

Who was John Peel?

The philosophy of this blog is a celebration of music in the spirit of the late John Peel. For those of you who want to learn more, click here.

Fades in Slowly RSS

Fades in Slowly