A BLUE plaque marks David Bowie’s long and fruitful association with Trident Studios, the Soho studio where, between 1969 and 1973, he recorded some of his finest albums: Space Oddity, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, as well as parts of The Man Who Sold The World, and Aladdin Sane.

In the dead, perennial space between Christmas and New Year of 1973, he paid a final visit to Trident, and there he thrashed out an idea that would become his most definitive anthem.

The studio’s parting gift to its most prolific alchemist was rush-released in February 1974. Rebel Rebel was the last credible flicker of glam-rock’s flame, its spiky guitar riff providing succour for the punk and post-punk generation.

It did not hint at the approach Bowie was taking on his 1974 album, Diamond Dogs, on which it was the lead-off single. It would be “a very political album”, Bowie said. “My protest.”

He had tried to turn George Orwell’s classic novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, into a musical. The author’s estate had turned him down, but the singer had reclaimed a clutch of tracks from the project while writing a further batch of songs for an aborted Diamond Dogs television film. In doing so he would deliver his most uncanny album yet.

The cover art depicted his now eminent Ziggy Stardust morphing into the hitherto unknown Halloween Jack. Its striking depiction features Bowie as a man-dog hybrid beside two ghoulish light-blue creatures, inspired by images of freak show performers from a bygone age. The artwork, by Guy Peellaert, also ushered in Bowie’s now-famous logo underscored by a lightning bolt.

Opening with a blood-chilling howl and unearthly groans, Diamond Dogs offers a noirish exploration of a nightmarish city ravaged by totalitarian control and feral gangs of nihilistic youth.

It would eventually inspire the provocative energy around sub-genres such as goth and industrial. But nothing quite managed the original flesh-creeping menace of Diamond Dogs, created by an artist who, in thrall to cocaine who would soon look morbidly close to death.

It was an album that Mike Garson would describe as “macabre”.

Now, 46 years later, Garson, Bowie’s long-serving pianist, is bringing the work to Glasgow. It will be played in its entirety by various Bowie alumni including Let’s Dance bass player Carmine Rojas, Glass Spider Tour drummer Alan Childs, guitarist and co-writer Kevin Armstrong, and Bowie’s lead guitarist, co-writer and musical director, Gerry Leonard.

Leonard, a Dubliner, who took on his diverse roles at various points between 2002 and 2013, suggests: “The subjects of that album have come around and are very topical again, especially at the moment. This dystopian world never feels far from us. These days, the new terrorism is financial and people are feeling it, trying to keep lives and families together.”

For Bowie there was unfinished business with the album, suggesting to Leonard that he wanted to revisit Diamond Dogs as far back as 2002.

“It was after we performed Low [1977] in London that he touched upon the idea of revisiting both Lodger [1979] and Diamond Dogs, playing them in their entirety.

“Both tThose albums had a special place in his heart, and his return to Low had been successful. More people are revisiting earlier albums and playing the whole record, but back then it was a new idea.”

To the chagrin of many Bowie fans, the original groundbreaking tour didn’t reach UK shores, and no complete film appears to exist. The highlight of the set, Sweet Thing/Candidate, was reserved for American audiences in 1974, who were witness to Bowie’s soaring falsetto and deep register vocal gymnastics.

Some consolation was to be had on the recorded versions available on official albums David Live (1974), Cracked Actor (2017) and the BBC’s Cracked Actor (1975) documentary.

“We’ll do the entire record.” says Leonard. “People in the UK seem to appreciate us getting more into those deeper cuts. We played Sweet Thing/Candidate at some dates last year and it felt like there was a lot of room for improvisation while playing the classic lines of the original recording. In this case, there is a lot of David as he played guitar on that record, he had a primal, instinctive way of playing that was also very strong.

“Rebel Rebel is a classic guitar riff but it’s something a guitar player might not have come up with because it’s very straightforward in one sense. I try and get into the mindset of the original player but also bring my version, because if I just go out and play verbatim what someone else has done, it falls a little flat, even if it’s just an expressive or tonal reinterpretation of the parts.”

Bowie’s musicianship underpins every part of Diamond Dogs. As well as playing guitar, sax, Moog synth and Mellotron, he also produced the work. The haunting We Are The Dead, among the tracks on the album most redolent of the derailed Orwell musical, was never played live. This fact gives it fresh impetus for the forthcoming performances.

“I look forward to creating an atmosphere on stage with those more ethereal tracks that give everything a more cinematic quality,” says Leonard. “It’s going to be interesting to see how that comes across.

“Having played with David for so long, the band always feel like he is in the room when we are coming up with how to perform those songs.

“You want to feel like he approves, because David always set the bar high. If I come up with something that feels a little naff, I can feel him on my shoulder and imagine the look I’d get. I wouldn’t even go there.”

Leonard recalls summoning the parts recorded by Edinburgh-born guitarist Ricky Gardiner for Low, when he himself was performing the exploratory album at the Bowie-curated Meltdown festival in 2002.

“It was a great experience. My job was to copy the lines by Ricky Gardiner or keyboard parts by Brian Eno — we all love the original recordings, but also find the spirit of the original parts.

“You had to bring things to life and imbue the work with something dynamic when presenting it live because it’s not a cover band.

“I remember playing the guitar solo for Always Crashing The Same Car with David stood right in front of me with this big smile. He said: “It’s just like it was in the studio, Gerry.”

The 2013 V&A retrospective (David Bowie Is) featured Bowie’s original storyboards and sketches for Diamond Dogs. The grim forecast for 2020 included emaciated people queuing for food at ration tables akin to food banks.

The year 2013 also began with the announcement of Bowie’s penultimate album, The Next Day, on his 66th birthday – January 8. That same

day the album’s first single, Where

Are We Now?, was also released.

Leonard was involved with the work from an early stage. “That was a real trip, from the first email I got from him,” he recalls. “It was titled ‘Keep schtum’ and was David asking if I wanted to work on some demos’.

“He was excited to be back playing songs, and that continued throughout the process. We recorded quickly and without fuss.

“When I arrived at the studio for 10am he would be there already at the piano. We were averaging two or three songs a day and recorded a lot more than what ended up on the record.”

Even in the age of information overload, Bowie was still capable of creating a remarkable cultural moment, but as Leonard suggests, it took some effort.

“One time we bumped into the

crew from the Reality tour [Bowie’s 2003-2004 world tour] on the street,

I had to pretend I was catching up

with our drummer Zack [Alford] knowing that David and Tony

[Visconti, producer] would soon be coming out the studio door behind us.

It was like a bad play or something but he managed it.

“David was often hiding in plain sight. We’d be having a coffee and the guy behind the counter would take a picture but we got him to erase it.” Leonard’s last meeting with Bowie was at a birthday party for Tony Visconti, Bowie’s recurring producer since 1969.

“It was right before he recorded Blackstar [Bowie’s final album]. He said: ‘Gerry, I’m going to be working on something, but don’t worry’. It was his way of saying that he had another project coming up that was something quite different.”

Before the guitarist disappears into the city where Bowie felt most settled domestically and creatively for a notable percentage of his output post-Diamond Dogs, he asserts what was significant about the many “New York moments” he shared with the singer.

“Being around David was like a transmission of things. To be around [David] playing music, seeing how he worked and his sensibilities, you just couldn’t get that from anyone else.

“He changed my approach and I’m a much better musician for having worked with him. He taught me what not to do as much as what to do.

“David always really brought it to the stage and he would encourage you to do the same in taking everything to another level. He’d say ‘they were a tough crowd tonight…but we got them in the end’.”

A Bowie Celebration: The David Bowie Alumni Diamond Dogs Tour 2020 is at the O2 Academy Glasgow on January 22,

at 7.30pm