Diamond Dogs

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Diamond Dogs
File:Diamond dogs.jpg
Studio album by David Bowie
Released 24 May 1974[1]
Recorded October 1973 – February 1974
Studio Olympic Studios and Island Studios, London; Ludolph Studios, Nederhorst den Berg
Genre Glam rock
Length 38:25
Label RCA
Producer David Bowie
David Bowie chronology
Pin Ups
(1973)Pin Ups1973
Diamond Dogs
David Live
(1974)David Live1974
Singles from Diamond Dogs
  1. "Rebel Rebel"
    Released: 15 February 1974
  2. "Diamond Dogs"
    Released: 14 June 1974
  3. "1984"
    Released: July 1974

Diamond Dogs is a concept album, and the eighth studio album by David Bowie, originally released in 1974 on RCA Records. Thematically, it was a marriage of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and Bowie's own glam-tinged vision of a post-apocalyptic world. Bowie had wanted to make a theatrical production of Orwell's book and began writing material after completing sessions for his 1973 album Pin Ups, but the author’s estate denied the rights.[2] The songs wound up on the second half of Diamond Dogs instead where, as the titles indicated, the Nineteen Eighty-Four theme was prominent.

Production and style

Though the album was recorded and released after the 'retirement' of Ziggy Stardust in mid-1973, and featured its own lead character in Halloween Jack ("a real cool cat" who lives in the decaying "Hunger City"), Ziggy was seen to be still very much alive in Diamond Dogs, as evident from Bowie's haircut on the cover and the glam-trash style of the first single "Rebel Rebel".[2] As was the case with some songs on Aladdin Sane, the influence of the Rolling Stones was also evident, particularly in the chugging title track.[3] Elsewhere, however, Bowie had moved on from his earlier work with the epic song suite, "Sweet Thing"/"Candidate"/"Sweet Thing (Reprise)", whilst "Rock 'n' Roll with Me" and the Shaft-inspired wah-wah guitar style of "1984" provided a foretaste of Bowie's next, 'plastic soul', phase. The original vinyl album ended with a juddering refrain, recorded in the inner grove of the record, Bruh/bruh/bruh/bruh/bruh, the first syllable of "(Big) Brother", repeats incessantly.[4] On the CD the track "Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family" ends with what sounds like "Riot/Riot/Riot/Riot..". "Sweet Thing" was Bowie's first try at William S. Burroughs' cut-up style of writing, which Bowie would continue to use for the next 25 years.[5]

Although Diamond Dogs was the first Bowie album since 1969 to not feature any of the 'Spiders from Mars', the backing band made famous by Ziggy Stardust, many of the arrangements were already worked out and played on tour with Mick Ronson prior to the studio recordings, including "1984" and "Rebel Rebel". In the studio, however, Herbie Flowers played bass with drums being shared between Aynsley Dunbar and Tony Newman. In a move that surprised some commentators, Bowie himself took on the lead guitar role previously held by Mick Ronson, producing what NME critics Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray described as a "scratchy, raucous, semi-amateurish sound that gave the album much of its characteristic flavour".[6] Diamond Dogs was also a milestone in Bowie's career as it reunited him with Tony Visconti, who provided string arrangements and helped mix the album at his own studio in London. Visconti would go on to co-produce much of Bowie's work for the rest of the decade.[2]


The cover art features Bowie as a striking half-man, half-dog grotesque painted by Belgian artist Guy Peellaert. It was controversial as the full painting clearly showed the hybrid's genitalia. Very few copies of this original cover made their way into circulation at the time of the album's release. According to the record-collector publication Goldmine price guides, these albums have been among the most expensive record collectibles of all time, as high as thousands of US dollars for a single copy. The genitalia were quickly airbrushed out for the 1974 LP's gatefold sleeve, although the original artwork (and another rejected cover featuring Bowie in a sombrero cordobés holding onto a ravenous dog, an image captured by Terry O'Neill[7]) was included in subsequent Rykodisc/EMI re-issues.

Release and aftermath

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[8]
Robert Christgau C+[9]
MusicHound 4/5[10]
Rolling Stone (unfavourable)[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2.5/5 stars[12]
Select 5/5[13]
Bowie performing during Diamond Dogs Tour, 1974.

The record was Bowie's glam swansong; according to author David Buckley, "In the sort of move which would come to define his career, Bowie jumped the glam-rock ship just in time, before it drifted into a blank parody of itself".[2] At the time of its release Bowie described Diamond Dogs as "a very political album. My protest ... more me than anything I've done previously".[14] Disc magazine compared the album to The Man Who Sold the World (1970), while Rock and Sounds both described it as his "most impressive work ... since Ziggy Stardust".[14] It made No. 1 in the UK charts and No. 5 in the US (where the song "Rebel Rebel" proved popular), Bowie's highest stateside placing to that date. In Canada, it was able to repeat its British chart-topping success, hitting No. 1 on the RPM 100 national albums chart in July 1974 and holding it for two weeks.[15]

Diamond Dogs' raw guitar style and visions of urban chaos, scavenging children and nihilistic lovers ("We'll buy some drugs and watch old bands / And jump in the river holding hands") have been credited with anticipating the punk revolution that would take place in the following years.[16] Bowie himself has described the Diamond Dogs, introduced in the title song, as: "all little Johnny Rottens and Sid Viciouses really. And, in my mind, there was no means of transport, so they were all rolling around on these roller-skates with huge wheels on them, and they squeaked because they hadn't been oiled properly. So there were these gangs of squeaking, roller-skating, vicious hoods, with Bowie knives and furs on, and they were all skinny because they hadn't eaten enough, and they all had funny-coloured hair. In a way it was a precursor to the punk thing."[17]

Bowie played all of the album's songs except "We Are the Dead" on his 1974 Diamond Dogs Tour (recorded and released as David Live). "Rebel Rebel" has featured on almost every Bowie tour since, "Diamond Dogs" was performed for the 1976 Station to Station, 1995–96 Outside and 2003-04 * Reality tours, and "Big Brother/Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family" was resurrected for the 1987 Glass Spider Tour.

Track listing

All songs written by David Bowie, except where noted.[18]

Side one

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Future Legend"     1:05
2. "Diamond Dogs"     5:56
3. "Sweet Thing"     3:39
4. "Candidate"     2:40
5. "Sweet Thing (Reprise)"     2:31
6. "Rebel Rebel"     4:30

Side two

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Rock 'n' Roll with Me"   Bowie, Warren Peace (for the music) 4:00
2. "We Are the Dead"     4:58
3. "1984"     3:27
4. "Big Brother"     3:21
5. "Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family"     2:00

Compact disc releases

Diamond Dogs was first released on CD by RCA in 1985 with censored cover art. The German (for the European market) and Japanese (for the US market) masters were sourced from different tapes and are not identical for each region.

1990 Rykodisc/EMI

Dr. Toby Mountain at Northeastern Digital, Southborough, Massachusetts,[19] remastered Diamond Dogs from the original master tapes for Rykodisc in 1990 with two bonus tracks and the original, uncensored, artwork. "Future Legend" stops at 1:01 and "Diamond Dogs" has 6:04 in this version.

Bonus tracks (1990 Rykodisc/EMI)
  1. "Dodo" (Recorded 1973, previously unreleased) – 2:53
  2. "Candidate" (Demo version, very different musically and lyrically, recorded 1974, previously unreleased) – 5:09

1999 EMI/Virgin

The album was remastered by Peter Mew at Abbey Road Studios without bonus material, with the same track listing as the 1985 CD release.

2004 EMI/Virgin

The third in a series of 30th Anniversary 2CD Editions, this release included a remastered version of the first disc. The second disc contains eight tracks, some of which had been previously released on CD as bonus tracks of the 1990-92 Rykodisc/EMI reissues.

Bonus CD (2004 EMI/Virgin)

All songs written by David Bowie, except where noted.

  1. "1984/Dodo" (Recorded 1973) – 5:29
  2. "Rebel Rebel" (From "Rebel Rebel" US single A-Side, 1974) – 3:00
  3. "Dodo" (Also known as "You Didn't Hear It from Me", Recorded 1973) – 2:53
  4. "Growin' Up" (Bruce Springsteen) (Recorded 1973) – 3:25
  5. "Candidate" (Demo version, very different musically and lyrically, recorded 1974, previously unreleased) – 5:09
  6. "Diamond Dogs" (K-Tel Best of Bowie edit, 1980) – 4:41
  7. "Candidate" (Intimacy mix, 2001) – 2:58
  8. "Rebel Rebel" (2003 mix) (From Reality Bonus Disc) – 3:09



Covers and references in popular culture

  • The Serbian and former Yugoslav band Kozmetika in its initial period was named after the album, Dijamantski Psi, meaning Diamond Dogs in Serbian language.[35]
  • An organization in the video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was named after the album. Director Hideo Kojima originally wanted to open the game with the eponymous song, but his team voted against the idea.[36]
  • The songwriter John Vanderslice covered the album in its entirety, releasing his version in 2013 as Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs.[37]
  • In Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge! the performers in the eponymous cabaret are referred to as "Diamond Dogs", in reference to the album and song. The film is highly referential to popular music, including a pivotal medley that includes the song Heroes.


  1. "Diamond Dogs album is forty today". Retrieved 6 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination—David Bowie: The Definitive Story: pp. 208–17
  3. Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p. 63
  4. Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: pp.63-64
  5. Kamp, Thomas (1985). "David Bowie: The Wild-Eyed Boy 1964–1984" (1st ed.). O'Sullivan, Woodside & Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Carr & Murray 1981). Op cit: p.14
  7. Terry O'Neill (1985). Legends. Viking Adult. ISBN 978-0-670-80933-2
  8. AllMusic. Retrieved on 8 August 2011.
  9. Robert Christgau. Retrieved on 8 August 2011.
  10. Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 151. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Emerson, Ken (1 August 1974). "Rolling Stone Reviews: Diamond Dogs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 May 2013<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "David Bowie: Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on 30 May 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Griffiths, Nick (November 1990). "Diamond Jubilation". Select. p. 124.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 Nicholas Pegg (2000). Op cit: pp.289-291
  15. RPM Top Albums at Collections Canada. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  16. Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Op cit: p.64
  17. Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p.63
  18. David Bowie. Diamond Dogs (RCA Records, 1974).
  19. "Northeastern Digital home page". Archived from the original on 8 December 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 21, No. 24" (PHP). RPM. 3 August 1974. Retrieved 31 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (PHP). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 31 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Note: user must select 'David BOWIE' from drop-down.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1974" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 31 January 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "norwegiancharts.com David Bowie – Diamond Dogs" (ASP). Retrieved 31 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Swedish Charts 1972–1975/Kvällstoppen – Listresultaten vecka för vecka > Juni 1974 > 11 Juni" (PDF). hitsallertijden.nl (in Swedish). Retrieved 31 January 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>Note: Kvällstoppen combined sales for albums and singles in the one chart; Diamond Dogs peaked at the number-four on the list in the 1st week of June 1974.
  27. "David Bowie > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 31 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "allmusic ((( Diamond Dogs > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 31 August 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  31. "Les Albums (CD) de 1974 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 31 January 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. "The Official UK Charts Company : ALBUM CHART HISTORY". Archived from the original on 13 August 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "British album certifications – David Bowie – Diamond Dogs". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 31 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Enter Diamond Dogs in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  34. "American album certifications – David Bowie – Diamond Dogs". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 31 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  35. Janjatović, Petar (2007), EX YU ROCK enciklopedija 1960-2006, p. 120, ISBN 978-86-905317-1-4
  36. "スネークの復讐は,プレイヤー自身の復讐。「METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES」小島秀夫監督への単独インタビューを掲載". Retrieved 20 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Vanderslice, John. "Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs". BandCamp. Retrieved 10 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Preceded by
The Singles: 1969-1973 by The Carpenters
UK number-one album
8–29 June 1974
Succeeded by
The Singles: 1969-1973 by The Carpenters
Preceded by
Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot
Canadian RPM 100 number-one album
27 July - 3 August 1974 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
Caribou by Elton John