Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bowie at the Beeb

As you might imagine from the title, this set is a collection of David Bowie performances on BBC Radio in London. Subtitled “The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 68-72”, this displays Bowie starting with his early folk days (some pre-David Bowie album tunes) through his height of popularity during his Ziggy Stardust period.

CD one is almost solely folky material, with a number of tunes from Space Oddity and The Man Who Sold the World (though these are not with Mick Ronson, for some reason, although he does appear on some other offerings). David plays a bit with the material and does not attempt to slavishly duplicate the studio recordings. He even takes a wild turn and covers Chuck Berry’s “Almost Grown” – quite a departure from everything else on this disc!

The second disc is primarily made up of Ziggy-era material, with several repeats, but also includes some from Hunky Dory as well as Lou Reed covers “I’m Waiting for the Man” and “White Light/White Heat”, both of which were concert staples at this time. Nothing else especially strange here, but all are fascinating insights into his different ideas for his songs.

The copy of this set that I have (it says that it is a limited edition) has an extra disc from the year 2000, but frankly, I find this a little boring. While I still have respect for the man as an artist, I don’t really care for a lot of his more recent releases and, of course, this disc concentrates on newer material, so it is not super interesting to me. But there is a good rendition of “The Man Who Sold the World”, a slowed-down “Fame” and an odd take on one of my favorites, “Cracked Actor”, which suffers a bit with the update.

I dig these BBC releases and this is a good collection for the first two CDs.