Tuesday, 28 August 2018

David Bowie - David Live (1974)

We're gonna put in a few extras tonight, some silly ones....


Released October 1974

Recorded live in Philadelphia

In 1973, “the kids had killed the man” and Bowie broke up the band and then after a short hiatus, reconvened Stateside with a new band, an elaborate new stage set, a powder blue suit and a foppy new hairdo. Some funky sounds were added to the larger new band’s repertoire, some wailing saxophone too, together with lots of backing vocals. Classic rock songs like The Jean Genie, Suffragette City and Watch That Man were either slowed down or “funked up” with layers of congas and wah-wah guitar. Many fans did not know what to make of it. Not quite used to the changeling Bowie as yet, some turned their back on him after hearing this album. Even now, there are still precious Bowie aficionados who condemn this album as “rubbish” and “unlistenable”. This is a shame. I actually loved it upon release and I still do. When 1984 starts the show, I still get excited hearing it, and the versions of Aladdin Sane and the extra-riffy Diamond Dogs are pretty definitive. Mike Garson is superb on piano and Earl Slick plays some seriously hot lead guitar throughout the album.

Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (reprise) is performed superbly, virtually note-for-note to the studio original and is absolutely crammed full of atmosphere. Although one can't see Bowie's performance, it can definitely be felt as you listen to this - "...my set is amazing, it even smells like a street...". You really get that vibe.

It takes a bit of getting used to hearing the saxed-up grooves of Changes and Cracked Actor but I have always found them invigorating and enjoyable, right back to when I first listened to them in 1974. Bowie's gift to Mott The Hoople - All The Young Dudes, is given a slowed-down almost gospelly soulful makeover, while the hit single from the album, a cover of Eddie Floyd's Atlantic Soul classic Knock On Wood is chunkily powerful and nowhere near as bad as a few critics, including Mick Jagger, said it was at the time.


1. 1984
2. Rebel Rebel
3. Moonage Daydream
4. Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)
5. Changes
6. Suffragette City
7. Aladdin Sane
8. All The Young Dudes
9. Cracked Actor
10. Rock 'n' Roll With Me
11. Watch That Man
12. Knock On Wood
13. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
14. Space Oddity
15. Diamond Dogs
16. Panic In Detroit
17. Big Brother
18. Time
19. The Width Of A Circle
20. The Jean Genie
21. Rock 'n' Roll Suicide                        

This impressive Tony Visconti remaster brings what was an already impressive 2005 remastering to even more life. He remasters his original 2005 remaster! Check out 1984  and Moonage Daydream  in particular. Almost like listening to a new album. 

There are sounds in there I genuinely had not heard before (and I bought it upon release in 1974). The track listing is the full show as well. The definitive version. Time, Panic In Detroit and Space Oddity are particularly welcome additions from the original album's track listing. Bowie's gratuitous, lascivious enunciation of "wanking" on Time is a delight to listen to.

Funnily enough, though, I was still so used to the original track listing that it still sounds a bit odd when Panic And Detroit and Time come along. 

Much as I have always loved this album, though, maybe the last word about it should be left to Bowie himself, he subsequently commented that -

"....."David Live" was the final death of Ziggy…and that photo on the cover. My God, it looks like I've just stepped out of the grave. That's actually how I felt. That record should have been called 'David Bowie Is Alive and Well and Living Only in Theory’....”

So, there you have it. It still means a lot to me, whatever its perceived shortcomings. 


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