#SQUADGOALS (3)

By: Gordon Dahlquist
January 18, 2017

One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars during 2017, on the subject of our favorite squads.

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From 1976 to 1980 David Bowie maintained a core band of Carlos Alomar (rhythm guitar), George Murray (bass), and Dennis Davis (drums), the most sustained tenure of any set of players behind Bowie. This is the golden period of Bowie’s work — five studio records and a double-live set, a run to rival anything else in popular music — and three largely unsung guys are firmly at its core.

Alomar was first drafted by Bowie to provide the Philly soul sound for Young Americans in 1975. The band Alomar put together included drummer Davis, with whom he’d played for jazz artist Roy Ayers. When Bowie needed a new bass player for his next record, Davis called Murray, and the D.A.M. trio was formed. From those coke-fueled sessions that produced Station to Station to the jammed-out experimentation of the Berlin records to the end-of-an-era crunch of Scary Monsters (plus Iggy Pop’s The Idiot along the way), it was these two African-Americans and one Puerto Rican laying down the soulful bones of the whitest, artiest, and most arch of art-rockers.

The D.A.M. trio’s R&B musicianship knits these records together every bit as much as Bowie’s shifting sensibility. Whatever he throws at them, whatever new influence he’s trying to wrangle, they serve it right back, sorted. Different hired-gun guitarists appeared for each record, along with different producers, but the main arrangements were shaped by Alomar, Murray, and Davis, with everything else — vocals, lead guitar, and other instruments — to be over-dubbed after. Their rapport is palpable and infectious, and possessed of the same cool audacity that marks the records themselves. The playing is both incredibly adept and incredibly game, knocking out one classic after another like it’s nothing (and nothing like the last classic they knocked out, either). They are solid-gold pros working for a really cool boss who keeps changing his mind (and his face), while continually counting on them to make the whole thing work. Which, god damn, they do.

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#SQUADGOALS: Annie Nocenti on THE WILD BUNCH | Alice Boone on PRETTY LITTLE LIARS | Gordon Dahlquist on BOWIE’S BAND | Rob Wringham on THE HOME GUARD | Jennifer Krasinski on WATERSHIP DOWN RABBITS | Annalee Newitz on ROBIN HOOD’S MERRY PALS | Adrienne Crew on THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | Mark Kingwell on THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | Adam McGovern on KAMANDI’S FAMILY | John Overholt on THE CLUB | Greg Rowland on THE VULTURE SQUADRON | Sara Ryan on BETSY, TACY & TIB | Chelsey Johnson on VI ÄR BÄST! | Brian Berger on THE JOHN FORD STOCK COMPANY | Sherri Wasserman on THE WARRIORS | Jessamyn West on FAREYNIKTE PARTIZANER ORGANIZATSYE | Josh Glenn on DADA | Matthew De Abaitua on THE TIME | Mandy Keifetz on THE FOUNDING FATHERS | William Nericcio on ZOOT SUIT PACHUCOS | Deb Chachra on FIREFLY CREW | Matthew Battles on THE ANIMAL FAMILY | Ingrid Schorr on THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS | Joe Alterio on THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS | Dan Reines on THE BREAKFAST CLUB | Rob Walker on LES TROIS INSÉPARABLES | Devin McKinney on 1975 RED SOX | Steph Burt on DAMAGE CONTROL | Anthony Miller on TBD | Luc Sante on THE BOUZINGOS | Carl Wilson on NEW YORK SCHOOL POETS | Mimi Lipson on TBD | Franklin Bruno on THE AACM | Cintra Wilson on TBD | Karinne Keithley Syers on BLACK LIPS PERFORMANCE CULT | Jacob Mikanowski on THE RATBASTARDS | Lynn Peril on THE DALY SISTERS | Katie Hennessey on BEAT POETS | TBD on TBD | Gary Panter on TBD | Barbara Bogaev on THE MOD SQUAD | Chris Spurgeon on THE ALKALI METALS | Molly Wright Steenson on TBD | Elina Shatkin on THE HOLOGRAMS | Anshuman Idamsetty on TBD | Jenny Offill on TBD | Kio Stark on TBD | Douglas Rushkoff on TBD | Colin Dickey on ACÉPHALE | Anindita Basu Sempere on TBD | David Smay on THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO | TBD on TBD.

MORE ENTHUSIASM at HILOBROW

#SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.

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Enthusiasms

What do you think?

  1. I really came to appreciate this band when they released an anniversary edition of Station to Station with a complete live concert from 1976. Unbelievably tight musicianship in service to incredible grooves and real vision. Their live version of “Stay” rocks as hard as anything Bowie did with Mick Ronson.

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