- Audio CD (Sept. 26 2000)
- Number of Discs: 3
- Format: Box set, Import
- Label: Virgin Records Us
- ASIN: B00004Y7WV
- Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
|1. In The Heat Of The Morning|
|2. London Bye Ta Ta|
|3. Karma Man|
|4. Silly Boy Blue|
|5. Let Me Sleep Beside You|
See all 18 tracks on this disc
|1. The Supermen|
|2. Eight Line Poem|
|3. Hang On To Yourself|
|4. Ziggy Stardust|
|5. Queen Bitch|
|6. Waiting For The Man|
See all 19 tracks on this disc
|1. Wild Is The Wind|
|2. Ashes To Ashes|
|4. This Is Not America|
|5. Absolute Beginners|
|6. Always Crashing In The Same Car|
See all 15 tracks on this disc
Bowie's early stuff ( pre-Ziggy ) sounds anodyne and twee. The conversations you hear on the CD make Bowie seem genuinely nervous but pleasantly friendly. Of course he might not do one song " because to do it would be possibly over everyone's budget." You could take that as nerves if you will but this is the BBC we're talking about. Their budgets at the time were not astronomical.
I've said this before that when you see " Live At The BBC " it doesn't really mean it's really *live* if you've ever heard BBC radio presenters like John " that was quite tasty " Peel or any others you'll know that they say " and we have [musician's name] here live in the studio." It's in a studio and it will never give you a live feel for the songs. It's just BBC engineers working on Bowie's songs and in return you could I suppose think of them as session outtakes from his album. But one thing should be made clear - if you haven't got Bowie's version of Jacques Brel's Amsterdam, this is where you can get it. It's passion almost matches Le Grand Jacques in it's intensity
As the second CD moves and the classics come in you begin to think " this is more like it " and Bowie seems more at ease with everything.Read more ›
Each era has its own appeal. True fans (at least, true British fans who've listened to the BBC in the past three decades) will be familiar with the folksy acoustic sound and lyrics, replete with Cockney accent, of recordings of songs such as "Karma Man" and "Janine" on the early disks. They reflect a plethora of influences - Dylan, the Beatles, Jacques Brel, who knows what else. Some of the material is only of historical interest; and some of it is really strong - notably "Let me sleep beside you", which would fit comfortably on the recent album "Hours...". The recordings sound as you'd expect them to - polished jam sessions - interspersed with annoying dialog from various BBC hosts ("... my mum thinks this one's dirty"). And "Kooks", dedicated to the then newborn Bowie junior, is charming.
Still more appealing, though, is the third disk - a vibrant mix of songs spanning 30 years. It opens with a brilliant rendition of "Wild is the Wind" , on which Bowie's vocals come closer to the 1976 studio recording than they ever have done before. Onwards through crowd pleasers such as the Lennon joint venture "Fame" and Nirvana-influencing "Man Who Sold the World" (of which Bowie justifiably admits to being very proud), and - best of all - great rarities such as the Pat Metheny collaboration "This is not America". The eighties weren't a complete waste of time, then!
One or two of the very recent tracks do inevitably stand out as less than inspired songwriting. Still, the band, which includes long-time collaborators Mike
Garson and Earl Slick, treats every song like a long-lost family member: with respect and love, getting the sound astonishingly close to the studio originals.
Only a performer of Bowie's stature and confidence could release this eclectic a compilation. It's not the ideal introduction for the new fan (I'd rather recommend one of the singles compilations). But anyone who wants proof of how a performer can mature, grow in stature, and not become dull, should make this the centerpiece of his year 2000 collection.
The first disc kicks off with a set canvassing the silly portfolio D. Jones Esq. dished up before he went down to the crossroads - or what ever it was he did - and transformed himself from silly Anthony Newley rip-off to Global Phenomenon and Curious Living Work of Art that we all know, love and are periodically bamboozled by. Fundamentally, the "Jones" material is lousy - don't let revisionists convince you otherwise - but oddly is produced and delivered here with a lot more flourish (look mum! a string section!) than the famous material which follows it.
Of the famous stuff, there is a disappointing inverse relationship between the quality of raw material and its presentation on this particular record. The Ziggy Stardust cuts sound horrible - shrill, poorly executed and mixed badly, paling in comparison with the album versions. By and large, there are better versions of all songs to be found elsewhere: Amsterdam, for example, can't hold a match, let alone a candle to the stunning B-side to Sorrow which appeared a couple of years later (available as a bonus track on the (now deleted) Rykodisc presing of Pin Ups), and while the acoustic take of the Supermen beats the album version, there is a better demo of this arrangement available (also on Rykodisc). There are a couple of pretty tough VU covers here, though.
To cut a long story short - this double is great for completists, and Bowieheads like me will find much of fascination, but if you're a beginner, go buy The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust (preferably on Rykodisc if you can find them) and come back to this in six months when it's in the bargain bins if you still aren't satisfied.
At the Radio Theatre, 27 June 2000 (disc 3)
If this July 2000 live album were released by itself, it would be worth ten stars. It is staggering, and will please young and old alike. To my immense excitement it undermines a truism about David Bowie: viz., he is disappointing live. He has always tended to shout, and has frequently made dreadful mistakes in personnel - Peter Frampton, Thomas Dolby, for very good example - and has emphasised visual over aural impact. Er, remember Glass Spider? No? Good.
But the news is all good here - he's in fantastic voice throughout and by no means pulls his punches - kicking off the set with Wild is the Wind, for example, is not for the faint of larynx, but it sounds magnificent, and it sets the tone for the remainder of the set. The band is first rate: Station to Station (and, er, Serious Moonlight)-era guitarist Earl Slick, the pianist who MADE Aladdin Sane what it was, Mike Garson, together with a band which has everything but cold fire (ahem).
And the choice and arrangement of songs will delight all. Yes, he does Fame, Ashes to Ashes and Let's Dance for the top 40 punters, but check this out - Always Crashing In The Same Car? Hallo Spaceboy? Stay? Cracked Actor? WOW! Wheeling out such hidden gems sure warm the cockles of this old Bowie-nut's heart, especially when they sound so choice. So, A good new album (...Hours) and a great live band? What ever next? The critics will be saying David Bowie's got good again... No, don't even GO there.