No-one should ever cover David Bowie’s songs. Remember Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman’s version of ‘Heroes’? Remember The Script’s version of ‘Heroes’? Remember Kasabian’s cover of ‘Heroes’? The X Factor finalists’ version of ‘Heroes’?
OK, maybe that should have read ‘no-one should cover ‘Heroes’, but still, to cover an entire David Bowie album from start to finish could be seen as foolhardy. To cover the critical and artistic high water mark of 1977’s ‘Low’ is practically suicidal.
But, somehow, on ‘Low: Live In Chicago’, acclaimed US post-punk krautrockers Disappears have done it absolutely perfectly, achieving the ideal balance between reverential homage and furthering the avant-garde explorations of the original.
The album was recorded in the band’s home city in November 2014, as part of the launch celebrations for the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and later mastered by Spacemen 3 legend Sonic Boom.
Songs such as ‘Sound And Vision’ and ‘Breaking Glass’ (the video for which you can see above) sound at once familiar, but alien, with an added urgency and fuzz. The mainly instrumental second side of the album – which saw Bowie collaborate with Brian Eno – is something else entirely: huge, looming soundscapes of guitars replace the analogue synths of the original to incredible effect.
“We chose the most difficult one,” jokes Disappears’ singer/guitarist Brian Case when asked why they decided to go for ‘Low’. “It’s the album we’d want to see covered by someone else; Berlin-period Bowie is his most original and forward thinking era.”
And, if the tables were turned, what Disappears album would they want the Thin White Duke to turn his hand to? “I’d like to see him tackle ‘Irreal’ [the band’s fifth studio album, which was released earlier this year], with Eno if possible.”
‘Low: Live In Chicago’ is released via Sonic Cathedral on November 20.
The full tracklisting for the album is:
Speed Of Life
What In The World
Sound And Vision
Always Crashing In The Same Car
Be My Wife
A New Career In A New Town
Disappears play the following UK shows in November as part of their European tour:
London 100 Club (November 23)
Manchester Soup Kitchen (24)