Chris O’Leary: Rebel Rebel

Bowie’s back catalogue clinically examined.

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Apart from Nicholas Pegg’s The Complete David Bowie, O’Leary’s blog Pushing Ahead Of The Dame has long been the go-to source for everything there is to know about any specific Bowie song. A Revolution In The Head for Bowiephiles.

Now it appears “rewritten and improved” in book form, or at least its first half does. This hefty volume traces Bowie’s recordings day-in, day-out from 1964’s Liza Jane to Station To Station. An equally heroic sequel is promised, and desirable.

Inevitably, a cultural history emerges as we follow Bowie from supporting Gene Pitney to screening Un Chien Andalou at arena gigs.

The writing is both meticulous and colourful. At times O’Leary is almost too intense: he seems to hear only the flaws in the Young Americans album, nit-picking at some of pop’s greatest male vocals. But he does it through love. He’s written a poem in a letter./o:p


Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.