Saturday, February 13, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: Stage

Released on September 8, 1978 by RCA Records, Stage is double-live album from David Bowie that chronicles the Isolar II tour to promote Low and “Heroes”. Produced with Tony Visconti and recorded from four concerts including two shows at the Spectrum in Philadelphia on April 28 and 29 , the Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island on May 5, and at the Boston Garden in Boston on May 6 all in the year of 1978. With a band that would include recurring collaborators in guitarist Carlos Alomar, bassist George Murray, and drummer Dennis Davis. The band would also include future King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, violinist Simon House, pianist Sean Mayes, and keyboardist Roger Powell as they would bring songs from those two records as well as previous albums into a vibrant and adventurous live setting.

The album’s first disc largely consists of material from Low and “Heroes” as it opens with the soothing instrumental Warszawa while other instrumentals such as Sense of Doubt and Speed of Life are very faithful with the latter featuring some unique guitar flourishes from Adrian Belew. Songs like Blackout, “Heroes”, Be My Wife, Beauty and the Beast, and Breaking Glass are all faithful with thanks in large part to the musician Bowie is playing while What in the World starts off slow but then goes into an upbeat track as it showcases what Bowie and the rhythm section of Alomar, Davis, and Murray are able to do with those songs. The first disc ends with a romping version of Fame as it retains its element of funk and soul with some added synthesizer textures from Sean Mayes and Roger Powell.

The second disc features five songs from The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars where Five Years, Soul Love, Star, Hang On to Yourself, and Ziggy Stardust are given slightly new arrangements with Soul Love and Five Years being quite faithful while Star features some synthesizer flourishes and Hang On to Yourself features some rollicking pianos from Sean Mayes. Ziggy Stardust is a highlight in the album as it is faithful with some added synthesizers as well as a steady rhythm from Davis and Murray. Three tracks from Station to Station in its title track, Stay, and TVC 15 showcase that sense of musician with Belew providing unique tapping on the title track and a fiery solo on Stay while TVC 15 is very playful thanks in part to the musicianship between the band.

The instrumental Art Decade is another standout with its moody synthesizers as it also includes some low-key instrumentation from Davis and Murray while a cover of the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill song Alabama Song, that was popularized by the Doors, as the song has Bowie play with structure where he goes for a very upbeat approach on the chorus and then slow things down for its verse. The album had been released in many versions as a 1991 reissue from Rykodisc featured Alabama Song as a bonus track yet it is the 2005 expanded and remastered edition from EMI that is supervised by Tony Visconti which features Be My Wife and Stay as bonus tracks along with Alabama Song as well as a new sequencing. The mix also allows a better interaction between Bowie and the audience while showing Bowie sounding better and more confident away from the influence of drugs.

Stage is a brilliant live album from David Bowie. Thanks in part to a new mix by Tony Visconti that captures the vibrant musicianship between Bowie and his live band as well as the interaction with the audience. Even as some of the experimental cuts on the album showcases Bowie’s willingness to take on new risks while giving older songs a fresher presentation. In the end, Stage is a phenomenal 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: David Live - 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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