TVD Video Premiere: Spizzenergi,
“Valentine’s Day”

Save the flowers and candy hearts. The new video from Spizzenergi, a crunching cover of David Bowie’s “Valentine’s Day,” addresses much darker concerns.

The hard-charging adaptation of the rocker from Bowie’s 2013 album The Next Day gets its premiere here on The Vinyl District today with the growling vocals of the frontman and band mainstay Spizz. At 62, Spizz looks like a better aged Johnny Rotten, backed by the guitars of Luca Comencini and Phil Ross with bassist Ben Lawson and drummer Alan Galaxy.

Adding to its authenticity is the mix by longtime Bowie producer Tony Visconti, who played bass on Bowie’s original. “The reason for covering ‘Valentine’s Day’ was initially for a Bowie festival we were booked to appear at,” Spizz says. He had gotten tickets for his birthday to see Bowie’s acclaimed Lazarus at Kings Cross Theatre in 2017 and went with Comencini, and says they “were both knocked out by ‘Valentine’s Day,’ which featured prominently in the performance.”

The song may have been overlooked, Spizz says. “At the time I checked on YouTube and couldn’t recall finding any [cover] versions so that was another good reason” to do it. They added it to their roster for BowieCon and it stood out, he says. “As a performer you get a feel from an audience and when we performed it live we felt their surprise and afterwards their applause which indicated we’d made a good choice.”

Though it often gets airplay this time of year, “Valentine’s Day” is not about the romantic holiday, but rather a deadly school shooting that occurred February 14, 2008 at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb that left six dead including the shooter, and injured another 21. Bowie’s lyrics, chillingly taking the part of the killer, says Valentine’s “got something to say… it’s in his icy heart; it’s happening today.” (An even worse school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida., that killed 17 and injured 17 others, occurred exactly 10 years later, on February 14, 2018.)

While Bowie’s video showed him handling a headless Hohner G2T guitar as if a rifle; Spizzenergi’s video is punctuated with some bullet holes through glass and puddles of blood. Video director Phil Ross, who began with cell phone performance footage in Lawson’s Dungeon Studio, says the pandemic lockdown “gave me plenty of opportunity to experiment” with iMovie clips and Final Cut Pro. “I must have spent about 120 hours editing and learning on it,” Ross says, “and really enjoyed the whole process.”

The video comes amid a bit of recent activity for Spizzenergi, with their “Christmas in Denmark Street” single, protesting the Crossrail project that cut through the heart of Soho and its legendary clubs. The song entered the UK Vinyl Singles Chart at No. 13 last year. Also in 2020, the band re-released their classic track “Where’s Captain Kirk?” on “Vulcan green” vinyl and played a big show at The Garage in North London.

The re-release came 40 years after the original “Where’s Captain Kirk?” which made history when it became the first No. 1 song when the UK Indie Singles Chart was established in January 1980. It became the band’s signature tune, covered by R.E.M. in a recording for its fan club 12 years later. Spizz sang it again on Die Toten Hosen’s 2017 Learning English: Lesson 2.

The long running British punkers were once in the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of different band names it had—a new one every year for a while, including Spizzoil, Spizz 77, Athletico Spizz 80, The Spiizzles, and Spizz Orbit. When Guinness refused to list them any more, they went back to Spizzenergi.

“Valentine’s Day” was issued as a limited edition 7-inch single on translucent purple vinyl, with the flip side a live version of “Amnesia,” recorded live in Düsseldorf in 2017.

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