Fricke's Picks: The Original Ziggy


The British singer Vince Taylor (1939-1991) was, for a spell, the most dangerous man in early rock & roll: a maniacal union of Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison in head-to-toe black leather with a shocking-for-its-time animal sexuality. A sensation in France, Taylor came closest to true immortality in 1972, when David Bowie used Taylor's transgressive electricity and flamboyant public meltdown (he went weird at a Paris club show in 1965, declaring himself the new Jesus) as raw material for the doomed glam god Ziggy Stardust.

Later, the Clash covered Taylor's runaway-rockabilly thriller "Brand New Cadillac" on London Calling. But Jet Black Leather Machine (Ace) is the original mayhem, a machine-gun spray of Taylor's U.K. singles and French EP tracks — including his original 1959 version of "Brand New Cadillac" — that sounds like a missing link between Presley's Sun sessions and the crisp, breathless R&B of the early Who. Taylor had a so-so voice but yelped and gurgled with vivid dementia and cut his own versions of U.S. hits ("My Baby Left Me," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Twenty Flight Rock") with proprietary fury. "Always acceleratin'," Taylor crowed in his 1960 racer "Jet Black Machine." Get onboard.

Alternate Take Main Next


David Fricke

Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke has more than 10,000 albums in his New York apartment. His first record review for the magazine was Frank Zappa's 'Sheik Yerbouti' (RS 290).

Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.