Somewhere in a parallel universe on a dystopian planetoid where the currency is glitter, sparkle and glam, there exists a metropolis called Suffragette City peopled by androgynous beings called Jones, guarded by their very own hounds of love, the Diamond Dogs, where every day is a Drive in Saturday. Music is played on stolen guitars using slash-back razors by cracked actors getting high on Moonage Daydreams.
There is only one TV station - Channel 2 and the favourite show is 'John, I'm Only Dancing'. Everyone is cool, beautiful and fragile, hung up on romancing, nobody wants to fall to Earth.
There, at it's very epicentre hardwired to a role-playing game called AD1973 lurks a musician in his velveteen lair with screwed down hairdo praying for inspiration to a fallen idol known to the glitterball cognoscenti as Ziggy Stardust. The disciple is called Jupiter and everything in his world is just hunky dory.
Outside through lace embroidered curtains he can see the steam pipes blow up vivid jets of grey hot air into deserted paper strewn streets, where he spies in the shadows the Man Who Sold The World, climbing fire escapes in a forlorn search for poor little greeny whilst dodging the scary monsters long ago sucked up into his mind.
Inside, sheltered from the storms of outrage visited upon the 'man who wasn't there', and back in his control room, Jupiter in Velvet has just finished a paean to his God - his new album of interplanetary cosmic rock, 'Shut Off Your Mind' and is smiling broadly with twinkly, mascared eyes. With any review of Jupiter in Velvet one could argue that first of all you have to speak about the Elephant in the room, and the fact that this is a Thin White one makes no difference.
If there had been no David Bowie, Jupiter in Velvet could, if he had been a true, original space oddity, had the daring and songwriting chops, justifiably laid claim to whole worlds of Nitzcheian stream of consciousness, glamorous sonic fantasy; spawned generations of lookalike wannabes and adoring hordes of cross gendered boys and girls in whirls. Vast electric blue sonic palettes would be his for the taking - A Starman waiting to blow our minds.
As it is, the electric blueprint has been already laid down, copied, aped, lampooned, mythologized and set in iconographic stone, and therefore we have in Jupiter in Velvet an artist who has carved his own image from the same porous rock as Popular music's European Man, and until he changes coordinates, sets his controls for the heart of some other sun, or uses different materials will be forever identified as follower, disciple, pale imitation.
This is slightly doing the guy an injustice, but not by much. There is no doubt of the integrity of his work and he can put a song together, but, and it's a big but, the moment his music starts, almost the first word out of your mouth is not wow or wonder, it's Bowie. And that's a heavy rap on your sheet.
But this doesn't have to be a bad thing. Millions of youth and the youthful, the musically and gender dispossessed, the strangers in strange lands, legions of I feel alien, long to have been part of an era that the hippest cat people in the world in the mid to late 1970s felt deliciously and subversively a part of. Sexually amorphous, bi curious shock troops with smudged lipstick and cockatoo blood red haircuts. Super excited and feeling dangerous on a teengage rampage, parents hated it, the Church tried to ban it and moral outrage was heaped upon him in spades. Absolute catnip for disaffected youth.
Jupiter in Velvet, then, has a market to be explored and exploited and so, let's look at that.
There are many, many sides and personae, of course, created by rock's greatest Chameleon and clearly, Jupiter in Velvet has planted his flag in the fertile ground of Mick Ronson-era Spiders from Mars, Ziggy / Bowie, which for many, is the most satisfying both visually and aurally. Chugging, menacing chordal axe work, distorted notes and reptilian riffing with a heavy side order of wham bam thank you ma'am aligned to a keen ear for a musical hook, and catchy chorus, are the characteristics that Jupiter in Velvet has decided to mine and apply to his own songs.
But however bouncy, dancey, kitsch-laden and glam groovy these song are, and they are the very epitome of that, they are a whiter shade of pale compared to the template that they originate from.
You can still love it, though.
The lead out single, also entitled Shut Off Your Mind, enters with a short drum burst which gives way to a growling, proto-cosmic guitar and eerie music-of-the-spheres wailing lead line - like radio signals sent into space to search for alien life forms. It's pure glam theatre with the strangulated Bowie trademark vocals of the era over a strutting, feel good beat, flavoured by a touch of sequinned T Rex here, a trace of Biba glitter there. It's got an irresistibility about it. Due to canny manipulation of social media, and relentless self promotion, the record is gaining substantial ground on the alternative and indie radio circuit and is undeniably catchy.
That said, where do we go from here? After the high of the opening, several tracks in and we hit rock bottom with a cover of Starman that is, at best, ill-advised.
For many, the sight of Bowie on the iconic British chart show, Top Of The Pops singing Starman, blue acoustic guitar slung nonchalantly over the shoulder setting off his one-piece catsuit, his other arm draped provocatively over Mick Ronson's shoulder showing off his damson nail polish to the horror and shame of many parents, but to the utter joy of fledgling Bowieites up and down the land, is often cited as one of THE seminal moments in youthful, rock and roll rebellion - the before and after fissure which set many on the road to self expression through Art, Music, Dance, Personality and Personal Freedom - yes, it was deemed that important.
To go after the song, then, in the rather plain and somehow oddly cold manner as presented on the album does nothing to enhance either the song, or by extension, Jupiter in Velvet - it's instead a kind of rock and roll suicide. It possesses neither the right warmth or reverence and instead resembles a Gary Numan's Tubeway Army version, but without the oomph.
Jupiter In Velvet wears his musical influences on his vibrantly-coloured frock coat sleeves. That is not a crime, but listening to him and his music makes you (reluctantly) play spot the lift and that is not a parlour game that's got any kind of longevity. Ultimately the feeling is, all that glisters is not gold. You want it to be great, but the film is a saddening bore, as you've seen it ten times or more.