Tim Worthington on Holy Holy

Nov 17, 2020, 08:39 AM

"Clangers" expert and Tin Machine timelord Tim Worthington meets me to talk about the oft-overlooked but deeply significant 1971 single Holy Holy

Tim Worthington - writer, podcaster and cultural archaeologist - is someone who digs deep and delights in obscure details. So, it follows that in this episode of Albumtoalbum, he chose to eschew the album format and instead, picked an intriguing slice of Bowie history - the 1971 single 'Holy Holy', originally recorded in the weird dead period just after the recording of The Man Who Sold The World in 1970, after a disillusioned Mick Ronson had returned to Hull to work as a municipal gardener, marking out rugby pitches on council playing fields instead of living it up with the Bowie gang at Haddon Hall. David recorded the single for his record label Phillips, with guitarist Alan Parker and bassist Herbie Flowers and despite its very voguish cocktail of sex, black magic and religious torment, nothing much happened. But a year later, when a reinvigorated Ronson and the Spiders were cutting tracks for the
Ziggy album, they recorded a new, spikier more glam version for the LP, but for some reason, Bowie dropped it from the running order at the last minute, relegating it to the B-side of Diamond Dogs in 1974. 

In this episode, Tim teases out numerous lines of enquiry leading from Holy Holy and looks at its importance as a pivotal moment in Bowie's fledgling career. As a summation of intent, an assault on the charts, a fabulous slice of black occult glam it succeeds in significance where it failed commercially (as did most Bowie releases at the time. It also suffered an ignominious afterlife, a remake, being shunted onto b-sides and bonus discs. 

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