09/17/07
Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

This week, let's hear it for the Bowie …  David, that is! We're spinning a trifecta of recent multi-media arrivals that reassert David Bowie's status as a visionary of sight and sound. We'll take them chronologically, commencing with the remastered and expanded edition of Bowie's foray into Philly-style blue-eyed soul.


David Bowie -- Young Americans - Special Edition CD+DVD (Virgin/EMI)

After considerable success under his 'glam rock' façade, David Bowie all but abandoned that persona, searching instead for intelligent life in rock 'n' roll under his own recognizance. What surfaced was the artist's deep abiding love and respect for good ol' American soul music. To mark the 33&1/3 revolutions of the earth around the sun since the project began, the entire effort has been given a well-deserved overhaul.

Almost a year in the creation, Bowie's hard work paid off as the LP leapt into the Top Ten, yielding a pair of hits, including the project's title tune "Young Americans" and the number one single "Fame," with backing vocals and rhythm guitar by John Lennon.  The former Beatle also donated his talents to a stunning update of "Across The Universe". Lennon's contributions are among those that come to life on the larger-than-life 5.1 created by the project's original producer extraordinaire Tony Visconti.

Speaking of which, the Young Americans Special Edition houses an upgraded stereo, as well as the aforementioned Dolby Digital and DTS Surround Sound mixes. Plus, non-LP audio extras of "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)," "Who Can I Be Now?," and a take of "It's Gonna Be Me" that is parenthetically denoted "With Strings". In addition to the hi-fi audio, the DVD contains video highlights from a rare Bowie TV chat circa February '75 with Dick Cavett, where he and his band unleash wicked versions of two then-unreleased songs "1984" and "Young Americans".

David Bowie -- Glass Spider (DVD/CD Edition)

After Bowie killed off characters such as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke, he never abandoned his penchant for creating a spectacle. Along with his oft visual collaborator David Mallet and choreographer Toni ("Hey Mickey") Basil, the artist supported his Never Let Me Down (1987) long player with one of the most extravagant tours to be staged for a mere rock concert. The Glass Spider Tour was a perpetually sold-out event of epic proportions. All told, it was a feast for the eyes and ears, lasting over eight months and travelling across several continents with a 50-foot spider in tow.

The project has never looked or sounded better as the DVD provides a bright and clean transfer of the original 105 minute Glass Spider (1988) home video. There is likewise a choice of a 2.0 stereo, Dolby Digital or DTS up-mixed 5.1 Surround Sound option.

The grandiose production unfurls with Bowie ascending from 'on high' bringing to life "Up The Hill Backwards," and the  Never Let Me Down related sides "Glass Spider," "Day-In, Day-Out" and "Bang Bang." Before diving headlong into selections from his vintage '70s songbook, the artist examines other recent entries such as "Absolute Beginners," "Loving The Alien" and "China Girl". He also peppers a few additional newer selections in-between high energy takes of "Rebel, Rebel," "Fashion," "Heroes," "Young Americans," "The Jean Genie," "Time," "Fame," as well as covers of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat".

Hard-core Bowie-heads might recall the contents of the bonus double-CD set from being broadcast on the syndicated King Biscuit Flower Hour radio program. Since then, it has also shown up on a number of over-priced, low fidelity and usually incomplete bootlegs. Finally, every note of the August 30th, 1987 concert at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec is being offered up as an extra in this 'limited edition' box set. While the core performance remains the same, among the goodies not repeated on the DVD are "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)", "All The Mad Men," Big Brother," "'87 And Cry," "Time Will Crawl," and "Beat Of Your Drum".

David Bowie -- The Best of David Bowie: 1980-1987 (Virgin/EMI)

After being included as part of the triple-disc Platinum Collection some two years ago, The Best Of David Bowie 1980/1987 is now available a la carte. Better still, for those of us who waited so patiently, this new configuration is being retrofitted as a Sight and Sound set, containing a 15-track DVD that boasts a pair of ultra rare music videos.

The 1980s were a period of renewed acclaim for David Bowie from both critics and fans alike. In fact, he scored more hits during the decade than he had before or has since. This Best Of … will prove to be worthwhile to collectors or casual listeners as it houses hard-to-find single edits of "Let's Dance," "Ashes To Ashes," "Fashion," "Modern Love," "China Girl," "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)," "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)," "Absolute Beginners," "Day-In Day-Out" and "Underground."

The accompanying DVD is the icing on the cake with two clips that have eluded collectors and up until now, were not available on any of the artists retail video compilations. "The Drowned Girl" is from the BBC 1 TV broadcast of David Bowie in Bertolt Brecht's Baal (1982), while "When The Wind Blows" hails from the 1986 UK animated feature film of the same name. Otherwise, the visual companions to "Ashes To Ashes," "Fashion," "Under Pressure" with Queen, "Let's Dance," "China Girl," "Modern Love," "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)," "Blue Jean," "Loving The Alien," "Absolute Beginners," "Underground," "Day-In Day-Out" and "Time Will Crawl" are all present and accounted for.


Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist based out of the Piedmont of North Carolina. He's a  frequent contributor to All Music Guide, All Movie Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and the Gaston Gazette.
All comments and questions are encouraged and can be sent to <asthediscspins@earthlink.net>.


 

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