Pin Ups album coverWritten by: Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty, Keith Relf
Recorded: July 1973
Producers: Ken Scott, David Bowie
Engineer: Dennis MacKay

Released: 19 October 1973

Available on:
Pin Ups

Personnel

Contents

David Bowie: vocals, saxophone, Moog synthesizer
Mick Ronson: guitar
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Aynsley Dunbar: drums
Unknown: violin, viola
Geoff MacCormack: backing vocals

‘Shapes Of Things’ was originally released by the Yardbirds in 1966, and was covered by David Bowie for his 1973 album Pin Ups.

It one of two Yardbirds songs on the album, the other being their arrangement of the blues standard ‘I Wish You Would’.

The Yardbirds released ‘Shapes Of Things’ in February 1966. Combining feedback, changing tempos, an Indian-style guitar solo, and pro-environmental and anti-war lyrics, it was a landmark recording quite unlike anything heard before, and perhaps the first psychedelic rock single.

Particularly notable was Jeff Beck’s feedback-laden guitar solo, a raga-style melody which reached its apotheosis in a deluge of feedback – a key influence on other acid rock classics including the Beatles’ ‘Taxman’ and Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced.

Bowie’s 1973 cover lost much of the original’s raw power, but added some psychedelic touches in the backwards reverb on his vocals and Mick Ronson’s intricate, double-tracked lead guitar lines. Ronson had previously pilfered the Yardbirds’ juddering ending for ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’, and here repeated the trick, albeit in a rather muted fashion.

Backwards reverb on the chorus. Boosting and cutting reverb to change perspective. Just my usual bag o’ tricks.
Ken Scott, May 2015
Five Years (1969-1973) book

Lyrics

Shapes of things before my eyes
Just teach me to despise
Will time make man more wise
Here within my lonely frame
My eyes just hurt my brain
But will it seem the same

(Come tomorrow), will I be older
(Come tomorrow), maybe a soldier
(Come tomorrow), may I be bolder than today

Now the trees are almost green
But will they still be seen
When time and tide have been
Boy into your passing hands
Please don’t destroy these land
Don’t make them desert sands

(Come tomorrow), will I be older
(Come tomorrow), maybe a soldier
(Come tomorrow), may I be bolder than today

Soon I hope that I will find
A seed within my mind
That won’t disgrace my kind

Previous song: ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’
Next song: ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’