The California radio station KCRW is a recognized tastemaker for new music from around the world. In addition to featuring live in-studio sessions, it airs interviews with established and emerging artists of indie and alternative rock. It is no wonder that KCRW has chosen “Golden Years” by the incomparable artist David Bowie for its newest Covers Project.
KCRW has produced nine CDs, all unique collections of live in-studio musical performances. It is a community service station of Santa Monica College, and serves as Southern California’s leading National Public Radio affiliate. To celebrate the 2010 re-issue of David Bowie’s classic Station to Station, four of KCRW’s DJs–Jeremy Sole, Anthony Valadez, Eric J. Lawrence, and Chris Douridas–each remixed the album’s lead single, “Golden Years.” These remixes are being made available to buy for the first time on this five track E.P.
The original single, “Golden Years,” was released in November 1975 from the groundbreaking and widely appreciated album Station to Station. The disc was recorded in Los Angeles, so it was fitting that some of KCRW brought four of the most innovative and talented DJs into the studio to take on the task of bringing us new conceptual visions of this track.
Each DJ created individually stunning and unique paths in deconstructing or recreating the classic song. Lawrence collaborated with Samuel Bing, front man for local indie rockers Fol Chen, and honed in on the lyrical content while bringing out the darker elements of the song. Douridas, with help from Quincy Jones’ grandson, producer Sunny Levine, focused on the groove using another Bowie track, “Fashion.” Sole worked with Victor Axelrod, aka Ticklah, the keyboardist for Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. Valadez developed a modern and at times futuristic boogie feel, complete with atmospheric sounds and a bouncing bass line, for a version that is aimed directly at the dance floor.
Personally, I was a bit skeptical of how anyone could take such a great song as “Golden Years” and “move around” the song’s various components or create new versions without destructing the original feel or treatment of the music. I am impressed by the DJs’ ability to keep the song intact while imposing onto it their personal elements and keep the music flowing. At no time did I feel that the classic rock and roll anthem was compromised of watered down, which has happened when other artist try to recreate or take a visionary artist’s music and make it their own through covering or sampling it. I found this five track EP to be not only tastefully done with respect to the original artist, but a true tribute to the musical legacy of Bowie, who still stands as a strong and innovative musical performer.