Dana Gillespie

Andy Warhol

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Dana Gillespie's lengthy career has seen her go through numerous different phases, from the folk and pop of her 1960s recordings to the blues with which she eventually dedicated herself to for a long period. To the general pop fan, however, she remains most known for her association with David Bowie, or to be more precise, the period in the early to mid-'70s in which they were both managed by Tony DeFries. The 14-song compilation Andy Warhol draws primarily from the two albums (1973's Weren't Born a Man and 1974's Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle) she recorded during this association. Also included are the Mick Ronson-produced Weren't Born a Man outtake "Lavender Hill" and a version of a song from Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle, "Never Knew," that's substantially different from the one actually released on that LP. The title track remains her most famous track of the era, written as it was by Bowie (and co-produced by Bowie and Ronson), Gillespie doing it capably but less campily and memorably. For all the attention she got from her Bowie association, however, it should be noted that she wrote most of the material on the albums and co-produced both of them, two Bowie-Ronson-produced tracks from Weren't Born a Man excepted. If you don't go in expecting a glam icon on the order of Bowie, you'll find that this is a pretty worthwhile compilation of a solidly talented singer/songwriter (and not an especially glam-oriented one) in her own right. Her actual forte was sultry, slightly bluesy rock, and though the title track of "Weren't Born a Man" was suspected of harboring gender-blurring intimations, her songwriting is largely sober and straightforward. In some respects it recalls the material Marianne Faithfull (roughly a peer of Gillespie's, if a far more famous one) made as she evolved from wispy folk-pop singer to gutsier serious artist, and if it's not up to the level of Faithfull's best work, it holds up fairly well. "Stardom Road, Pts. 1 & 2" is a special highlight (though one of the few tracks not penned by Gillespie), examining the dark side of fame with far more self-awareness than most acts riding the glam train did, as do to lesser degrees, some of the other songs here.

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