Hype and David Bowie's future
Raymond Telford • Melody Maker • 28 March 1970
HYPE has been kindly defined by a wise friend as being ninety per cent hyperbole and ten per cent hypocrisy. With that clearly in mind who would ever think of giving the title to their own group?
David Bowie would and has, partly as a protest against the pretentiousness and insincerity in some quarters of the music business.
Explained David last week over the almost overwhelming din of a lunchtime ale house: “I deliberately chose the name in favour of something that sounded perhaps heavy because now no one can say they're being conned. Especially nowadays there's a lot of narrow mindedness among groups or at least behind the organisers who claim to be presenting free music for free people but I don't see how they can because they're so hypocritical in everything else. I suppose you could say I chose Hype deliberately with tongue in cheek.”
David's last record was the ultra dramatic Space Oddity, which was a good reflection of the extent to which his imagination will stretch. In some ways the conception of the song was so simple (dealing with the disastrous shortcomings of an astronaut) that you wonder why it hadn't been done before. It is more than probable five or six years ago Space Oddity would have been given an icy reception and even binned as being sick. The disc was in fact banned in the States.
“I was pleased that the record was a success but getting a hit wasn't so very important and I honestly can't see why it was so popular.”
The last statement could only be put down to modesty and David is a very modest character. He has refused to allow himself the easy way out of becoming bitter towards the business. Space Oddity at last brought him deserved recognition after several attempts at getting a hit but now the charts hold little attention for him. What then does the future hold for his new release with Hype’s Prettiest Star?
“I think a lot of people are expecting another Space Oddity,” said David, “and Prettiest Star is nothing like it. I'm sure this is why the BBC aren't plugging it. Everyone wanted another song with the same feel as Space Oddity but as I'd done it, I didn't see the point of doing it again. The song served its purpose but I hope I'm not going to be expected to write and record a whole lot of stuff that is so obvious as Space Oddity.”
I remarked that it had taken some time for Space Oddity to start making an impression on the charts, a statement that had David nodding vigorously.
“Yes,” he agreed, “It took about three or four months to catch on and the release had been held back about three months before that. The only reason I can think of is that the record company were waiting to cash in on the America's moon landing. It was banned in the States because they thought it was in bad taste and even might upset some people.”
This is something that David stoically makes no apologies for.
“All my songs are very personal and I combine this with an exaggeration so the meaning is clearly brought home to the listener. A lot of my compositions are very much fantasy tales. I like Marc Bolan's songs very much because I think he obviously feels the same way.' The conversation then swung once more to the intriguing Hype.
“I'm very happy with the band,” says David. “I have Tony Visconti who has played bass on nearly all my records, John Cambridge, who used to be with Juniors Eyes and Mick Ronson on guitar and I play 12-string guitar. Although we're all happy with the set up, I can't see it becoming a really permanent thing. I want to retain Hype and myself as two separate working units whereby we can retain our own identities.”
“The gigs we've done so far have gone better than I expected. We played the Roundhouse recently and it was great. The Roundhouse audiences seem to be something apart from the usual blasé London audiences.”
“We've had these costumes made by various girl friends which make us look like Dr. Strange or the Incredible Hulk. I was a bit apprehensive about wearing them at the Roundhouse gig because I didn't know how the audience would react. If they think it's a huge put on, the whole thing will backfire but they seemed to accept it, which was nice.
“The best audiences I know are up north where they really appreciate you. In London the audiences are very aware that they are living in the place where it's all supposed to be happening, so inevitably they have this cool attitude they'll try and sell you anything from a pair of trousers to your own car.”