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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Review: David Bowie - Bowie at the Beeb: Best of BBC Radio 68-72

Around 1976 I carried a picture of David Bowie in my wallet. I also had one of Lou Reed. That’s what normal 15 year olds do. I guess. I hope. Probably not. I had become a Bowie fanatic around 1974. I coveted each album up to Scary Monsters and then with Let’s Dance I lost interest. 2003’s Reality is pretty good.

In a world where there’s twice as many Bowie compilations than original recordings there has to be a feeling of overkill. He’s not dead but they’re always picking through his bones for meat residue to sell. Bowie at the Beeb: Best of BBC Radio 68-72 is a 2-disc set that takes Bowie from his Anthony Newley days to Ziggy Stardust, his most lasting achievement.

The first sixteen tracks are only interesting because they show you Bowie didn’t start on the cutting edge. He offers folk crooning and string sections, and he’s backed by what sounds like a generic house orchestra. “Width Of A Circle” and “God Knows I’m Good” are decent. Where’s “Please Mr. Gravedigger and “The Laughing Gnome”?! Whimsical Bowie fans want to know.

The set earns its value with the 1972 sessions. Mick Ronson and the Spiders From Mars really kick arse and the famous BBC techs record everything perfectly as usual. The session includes The Supermen/Eight Line Poem/Hang Onto Yourself/Ziggy Stardust/Queen Bitch/Waiting For The Man/Five Years/White Light White Heat/Moonage Daydream/Hang Onto Yourself/Suffragette City/Ziggy Stardust/Starman/Space Oddity/Changes/Oh! You PrettyThings/Andy Warhol/Lady Stardust/Rock 'N Roll Suicide

My box set contains a third disc from a live 2000 in-studio show. It contains Wild Is The Wind/Ashes To Ashes/Seven/This Is Not America/Absolute Beginners/Always Crashing In The Same Car/Survive/Little Wonder/The Man Who Sold The World/Fame/Stay/Hallo Spaceboy/Cracked Actor/I'm Afraid Of Americans/ Let's Dance.

Disc 2 is the keeper. The box retails for $26.98 and if you’re a Ziggy Stardust fan you may have to break down for this one.


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