Tuesday, February 9, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: David Live

Released on October 29, 1974 by RCA Records, David Live is the first official live release from David Bowie recorded in July of 1974 at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia in the course of four days. The double-album marks a major transitional period for Bowie as it has him moving away from the world of glam rock that he popularized and venture into the world of American soul music that was being made in Philadelphia. Produced by Tony Visconti, the album is a look into Bowie as a live performer during what was a very crucial yet chaotic period in his career.

Featuring an array of musicians that would include recurring collaborators in guitarist Earl Slick and pianist/keyboardist Mike Garson. The album features Tony Newman on drums, Herbie Flowers on bass, music director Michael Kamen on keyboards/oboes/arrangements, Pablo Rosario on percussions, Gui Andrisano and Warren Peace on backing vocals, Richard Grando on baritone saxophone/flute, and future jazz icon David Sanborn on alto saxophone/flute. The album showcases Bowie not only giving some of the older material such as Moonage Daydream, Panic in Detroit, Aladdin Sane, Changes, Watch That Man, Cracked Actor, The Jean Genie, Space Oddity, The Width of a Circle, and Time some unique arrangements in the song to suit the band that he is working with but also provide the songs some new life.

Notably as some of these songs are given slower arrangements while a song like Aladdin Sane would given some Latin rhythms courtesy of its rhythm section and Pablo Rosario’s percussion while Panic in Detroit would feature solos from different members of the band during its coda. Songs like Suffragette City, The Jean Genie, Watch That Man would remain the same in their arrangements with some additional instrumentation in the brass and pianos. With Earl Slick proving that he can bring some great guitar work to those songs, the material also feature Bowie giving the songs some oomph despite the fact that many of vocals sound very strained due to his health and troubling addiction to cocaine which was evident at the time.

Material from the Diamond Dogs album like its title track, the Sweet Thing suite, Rebel Rebel, 1984, Rock N’ Roll with Me, and the Big Brother suite are faithful to the material with Slick, Garson, Grando, and Sanborn providing some great work into their own instrumentation to those songs. The album also features two covers in the album in the form of a raucous yet lively cover of Eddie Floyd’s Knock on Wood, that was released as a single for the album, and the Ohio Players’ Here Today, Gone Tomorrow where the latter is a mid-tempo piece is a real standout despite the strain that is heard in Bowie’s vocals.

When the album was released in 1974, it was rush-released by Bowie's then-management company MainMan where the result had really muddy mixes that were off as it was among the many complaints. Subsequent reissues throughout the years including a 1990 reissue from Rykodisc had tried to improve those mixes. Yet, it is the 2005 expanded version of the album from EMI that features Space Oddity and Panic in Detroit as bonus tracks that would improve the album thanks in part to producer Tony Visconti’s mixing. Notably as some of the instrumentations are given more attention to detail though it is still flawed due to Bowie’s vocals performance which has its spotty moments but also some great moments.

While it is a very flawed release, David Live is still a fantastic live album from David Bowie. It’s an album that showcases Bowie as a live performer during what was a transitional period in his career. Though it is sort of hampered by Bowie’s strained vocals in some parts of the album. It is still one that is quite exciting and filled with some great performances. In the end, David Live is an excellent live album from David Bowie.

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1967 album) - David Bowie (1969 album) - The Man Who Sold the World - Hunky Dory - The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Aladdin Sane - Pin Ups - Diamond Dogs - Young Americans - Station to Station - Low - “Heroes” - Lodger - Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) - Let’s Dance - Tonight - Never Let Me Down - Tin Machine - Tin Machine II - Black Tie White Noise - Outside - Earthling - ‘Hours…’ - Heathen - Reality - The Next Day - *

Live Releases: Stage - Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby - Bowie at the Beeb - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: Christiane F. - Labyrinth - The Buddha of Suburbia

Miscellaneous: Peter and the Wolf - Baal - Sound + Vision - (Early On (1964-1966)) - (All Saints) - Toy - (Nothing Has Changed)

© thevoid99 2016

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