Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 65
Mon. April 1, 2013
With The Prodigy’s Fat of the Land ruling the charts, 1997 was the year of electronic music was king. Bowie a lover of all things electronica was fascinated by the jungle drum ‘n bass break beats coming out of London. Taking a cue from Jungle legends Goldie and Roni Size, Bowie wanted to incorporate the break net intensity of drum and bass into his classic Bowie sound.
Bowie explained to The Seattle Times how he and drummer Zac Alford came up with the jungle sounds of Earthling when he said, “We knew we wanted to produce some really dynamic, aggressive-sounding material. The arrangements and the structure of it was between Reeves and myself, but the band’s individual responses to it were interesting. With Zac for instance, unlike most drum and bass things, we didn’t just take parts from other people’s records and sample them. On the snare drum stuff, Zac went away and did his own loops and worked out all kinds of strange timings and rhythms. Then we speeded those up to your regular 160 beats per minute.” Bowie also pulled a Portishead following Geoff Barrow method of sampling as David explained when he said, “That’s very much how we treat the album. We kept all sampling in-house and created our own soundscape in a way.”
Unbeknownst to most, the lyrical jungle soundscapes of “Little Wonder” were influenced by Walt Disney’s Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs as Bowie explained in Nicholas Pegg’s The Complete Bowie, “The key was to write one line about each dwarf, or using each dwarf’s name; but I ran out of dwarves. I had Potti, Scrummy—all sorts of alternative names.” Pegg said it best when he wrote, ““Little Wonder” needn’t be taken too seriously;” true Nicholas, but that’s the reason to fall for the ridiculous rhythms of “Little Wonder.” Not like your typical 50 year old rocker, I love the fact that Bowie was incorporating the jungle sounds of the day. The drum and bass ways on “Little Wonder” not only made David sound timeless but the fearless chameleon genius we have loved for over forty years.
Inspired by The Seven Dwarves, instead of whistling while you work, why not crank up “Little Wonder” at the office and bring your Earthling doubting co-workers to the dimension of Jungle, break beats, lyrical nonsense, for a laugh, or just because The Thin White Duke knows how to craft a catchy groove. Let Bowie’s “Little Wonder” drum n’ bass your Monday blues today.