Monday, August 15, 2016

David Bowie Santa Monica 72

This live recording was taken from a radio broadcast during Bowie's 1972 Ziggy Stardust tour and was widely bootlegged before its "official" release in the mid-90's. This is a fantastic concert with all of the Spiders From Mars - Mick Ronson (guitar), Trevor Boulder (bass), Mick "Woody" Woodmansey (drums) and Mike Garson on piano. This is one of the few live recordings of this excellent band at their height with a terrific set list.

The record opens with the DJ's introduction and blasts into Ronson's guitar on "Hang On To Yourself" - one of their best rockers that here allows Mick to stretch out with some noisy leads. From here they move directly into the theme song of the tour, "Ziggy Stardust", again with Rono's guitar in the forefront, making it more powerful than the studio take. Garson's piano nicely leads off "Changes", adding new flourishes to the tune, Bowie's acoustic 12-string starts "The Supermen" and the band charges in powerfully, then quiets down again for "Life on Mars", which builds into the memorable mid-tempo melodramatic piece that reached an even wider audience with its inclusion in American Horror Story. Woody's instantly identifiable drum line brings us "Five Years" with its wobbly backing vocals but good piano work, David actually goofs with the audience a bit before a stripped-down version of his 12 string opus "Space Oddity", that then leads into a similarly bare approach to "Andy Warhol" and the acoustic segment finishes with the dramatic "My Death".

Rono gets his workout with "Width of a Circle" - this rocker has a long enough solo that Bowie would go backstage for a costume change while Mick showed what he could do and the different sounds that he could coax out of his Les Paul. There's a speedier, edgier "Queen Bitch", "Moonage Daydream" (where Mick seems to catch the rest of the band off guard in the intro) with a beautifully extended solo at the end, a surprise inclusion of the single, "John, I'm Only Dancing" (well, a surprise in hindsight, as it didn't get much, if any, play in America), which benefits from this rawer take (even with Rono losing his place for an instant) then they pay homage to one of David's idols in a hard rock version of the Velvets' "Waiting For the Man". There's also an homage to the classic "I'm a Man" in the rockin' "Jean Genie" followed by the raucous "Suffragette City" (where Bowie forgets the words!) and then back for the encore of the dramatic "Rock'n'Roll Suicide" with its powerful "give me your hands" ending.

A truly excellent rendering of Bowie's best band by far at one of their top shows. A must for any fan!