In January we teased the first notice of the upcoming Landscape ultrabox without too much to know about it, other than the general gist of it, and since then we’ve had comments on that post from band member John L. Walters; always good to hear from the actual participants! The other day we got the e-mail with the full details and the box of digital delights will be released on July 21, 2013. And the pre-order is now live in the Landscape website store. And now we have full details on the package.
DISC 1 • Landscape (1979)
Lost In the Small Ads
The Mechanical Bride
Many’s the Time
Caterpillar Tracks [Live In Norwich 1979]
The High Window [Live In Norwich 1979]
Kaptin Whorlix [Live In Norwich 1979]
The Mechanical Bride [Live In Norwich 1979]
Highly Suspicious [Live In Norwich 1979]
Stranger [Live In London 1977]
DISC 2 • From the Tea-Rooms of Mars … to the Hell-Holes of Uranus 
Shake the West Awake
Face of the 80s
Einstein a Go-Go
The Doll’s House
From the Tea-Rooms of Mars … a) Beguine
From the Tea-Rooms of Mars … b) Mambo
From the Tea-Rooms of Mars … c) Tango
When the Chips Are Down
European Man [7-inch]
Norman Bates [7-inch with narration]
Electro New Religion
European Man [12-inch]
Einstein a Go-Go [12-inch]
Norman Bates [12-inch without narration]
DISC 3 • Manhattan Boogie-Woogie 
One Rule For the Rich
The Long Way Home
It’s Not My Real Name
When You Leave Your Lover
It’s Not My Real Name [12-inch]
Back On Your Heads [7-inch B-side]
(A Case Of) Mistaken Identity
Manhattan Boogie-Woogie [instrumental mix]
The Long Way Home [instrumental mix]
Bad Times [‘Good Times’ instrumental mix]
One Rule For the Rich [instrumental mix]
DISC 4 • Before and After
U2XME1X2MUCH EP (1977) • WORKERS PLAYTIME EP (1978) • LIVE IN LONDON UNRELEASED (1977-78) • LANDSCAPE III (1983)
Don’t Gimme No Rebop
Too Many Questions (Don’t Ask Me Why)
The Camera Never Lies [Live in London ’77-’78]
Bagel Street Blues [Live in London ’77-’78]
Sleazy Feet [Live in London ’77-’78]
Eugenie [Live in London ’77-’78]
Watt is Knott [Live in London ’77-’78]
Goldilox and the Jelly Bean Shuffle [Live in London ’77-’78]
Tribute [Live in London ’77-’78]
So Good, So Pure, So Kind [7-inch]
The Fabulous Neutrinos [7-inch]
You Know How To Hurt Me [7-inch]
Feel So Right [7-inch]
(I’d Love To) Fly Away [7-inch]
DISC 5 • Excursions 2 Other Versions
Rare Mixes • LANDSCAPE III • BITS AND PIECES
Einstein a Go-Go [‘Einstein on the floor’, 2023 remix]
One Rule For the Rich [UK cassette]
It’s Not My Real Name [UK 7-inch]
Colour Code [UK cassette]
When You Leave Your Lover [UK cassette]
(A Case of) Mistaken Identity
Back On Your Heads
(I’d Love to) Fly Away [12-inch]
So Good, So Pure, So Kind [12-inch]
You Know How To Hurt Me [12-inch]
The Fabulous Neutrinos [12-inch]
Feel So Right [12-inch]
Norman Bates [short version without narration, released as 12-inch]
It’s Not My Real Name [UK cassette]
Einstein a Go-Go 7-inch [UK ‘no phones’ radio mix]
The package is five CDs in card sleeves in the clamshell box format; all designed by John Warwicker, who designed the first two Landscape albums. There will be a 52 page book of liner notes in that box; fat with info and photos. I’m most interested in hearing the band’s first two self-released EPs which were the first six tracks on disc 4. I’ve heard material from the first album, and it’s synthetic instrumental music; poppy but not quite the Technopop that were the second and third albums. But the band’s origins were said to be Jazz Fusion, so I’m wondering exactly what awaits my ears.
Looking over the track listings reveals a wealth of material including live recordings from this band who evolved into such advanced electronics that I can’t have imagined them playing live in the pre-MIDI universe of 1981-1982. There are also lots of alternate mixes, but not everything under the sun. The song “Eastern Girls” from “Manhattan Boogie-Woogie” was conspicuous in its absence. The LP and 12″ mixes were not here, although its B-side was. I have the US promo 12″ of “It’s Not My Real Name” what might be down to US RCA having a go at the title with the band’s masters at their disposal only coming from the UK side of the business. A not uncommon scenario.
But that also takes me to one of the key points here. Every track in the set was mastered from a master tape. To wit:
So every note here is mastered with integrity from the best possible source. A not inconsiderate perk in this fallen world! And how much will this set us back? A modest $47.00 for the huge job of pulling this together. And the first 500 copies sold in the band’s webstore comes with the photo print below of the band in their finery, posing with their de facto sixth member; the Roland Microcomposer MC-8; without whom their mature sound would not exist! Every member of the band will sign the free print – yow! That’s great attention to detail.
Do we want this? Of course we do! I’m looking forward to finally getting the “European Man” 12″ version on CD and truth be told, would be buying this if only for that! If this exerts a gravitational pull on your wallet too, then D.J. hit that button!
This morning I saw Steve For The Deaf’s posting on The Tornadoes iconic “Telstar” single from 1962 and immediately got pulled into its orbit. It reminded me that the conic instrumental came into my Record Cell a few years back in an unlikely cover version helmed by Peter Hook of New Order and Lindsay Reade who worked at Factory Records. All under the nom-du-disque of Ad Infinitum. But before we discuss the re-make, let’s have Steve For The Deaf wax eloquent on the many merits of the ahead-of-its-time single from 1962. Click his avatar then come back for the counterpoint.
Ad Infinitum: Telstar – UK – 7″ 
Telstar In A Piano Bar
The track began with an upward creeping synth pulse before a clattering drum machine set the foundation for that soaring melody to appear on less primitive synthesizers that still don’t have the pull of the original’s clavioline [or Univox organ if the counter rumor was true]†. But where the original let the melody prevail, the rhythm track hobbled this version from the very start. Speaking of hobbling, there were also the new lyrics written [and sung] by Ms. Reade. Songwriter Joe Meek’s publisher would not allow the new lyrics over the music, so that’s when Peter Hook was brought in to salvage the track by mixing the vocal out and upping the dancefloor factor.
† – I actually prefer the theory that Mr. Meek mixed the clavioline and the Univox together for the unique sensations that “Telstar” offered.
For Hooky’s involvement, his deep gravitational bass was nowhere to be found here with only bass sequences on synth to be found. And the melody, so similar to that which would be used in four years as the Star Trek original series theme, should have been the star here. But this remained a cover version where the details got in the way of the song’s point. Other Factory personnel aiding here were Andy McConnell then of A Certain Ratio [but not for much longer] and Tim Kellett of The Durutti Column. The seemingly incongruous trumpet solo was down to Lindsay Anderson of the Stockholm Monsters.
I have to say that the B-side, “Telstar In A Piano Bar,” was far more interesting! This was strictly a showcase for McConnell and Anderson hitting a perfect late night Jazz Club vibe on the song. Transporting it to the other side of the 1962 milieu from which it originally sprang into the world. The liberties taken by McConnell with the melody were all worth our time and the mournful trumpet from Anderson hit a smoky Chet Baker target!
I had to think that the unique holographic sticker on the sleeve of Ad Infinitum’s “Telstar” must have been a wholesale item that Tony Wilson bought in bulk to apply to the record sleeves. I can’t believe that any record would otherwise have a bleeding edge holographic image custom made for a sleeve as these images were still exotic in the 1984 environment of this record. The generic quality of the image was perhaps the most telling thing. Other than the inner groove etching on the record, which simply stated “INCLUDE ME OUT.” Still, it was worth it for the B-side.
Johnny + The Self-Abusers: Saints + Sinners – UK – 7″ 
Saints + Sinners
Johnny + The Self-Abusers was not the first name the band that would eventually become Simple Minds ever had. That would be the even weirder Biba-Rom! But Johnny + The Self-Abusers was their name at the time of the band’s very first release. For a band that was getting in on the ground-floor of UK Punk, there are a lot worse first moves that getting signed to Chiswick Records; an indie label with legitimate Punk cred perhaps second only to Stiff Records at the time.
The band contained Charlie Burchill, Brian McGee, and Jim Kerr who would go on to form Simple Minds. Allan McNeill [guitar] would run a recording studio before becoming a psychologist. Bass player Tony Donald would also briefly pivot to Simple Minds, before being replaced by Derek Forbes. And John Milarky would leave to form The Cuban Heels following the breakup of Johnny + The Self-Abusers on the very day their one single was released in November of 1977.
The binaural stereo spread of the guitar and drums in the intro of “Saints + Sinners” certainly got one’s attention quickly. The speedpunk ditty wasted no time at a taut 1:52 as it recklessly blazed through the song; pausing only for a single-bar fuzz riff in the middle eight panned hard left, right, then center. The sound was thin and cheap, but hard enough to make an impact. The one-bar solos also served as the climax to the song as it stopped on a time before anyone could ever get bored with it.
At 2:59, the B-side, “Dead Vandals,” was practically a Prog Opus compared to “Saints + Sinners.” One can strongly detect the influence of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground on the punky swagger and especially Jim Kerr’s vocals here. With a slower tempo and several bars where there was no singing, this track more strongly pointed the way forward for the Glaswegians. It was a modest single, fitting in with the times even as it sought to move in a deeper direction on the flip side.
WANT TO BUY ONE?
I got one of these almost 40 years ago for what was chump change. Discogs has the disc in the $60-80 zone currently. Anyone with an interest but a low budget, should know that Soul Jazz Records are re-issuing the 45 in a limited edition of 500 this Friday, Marsh 24th with the silk-screened outer sleeve as shown here for a cool £10.00/$12.20. If you need one of these replicated artifacts in your own, personal Rec0rd Cell, then act now while the acting’s good. The Soul Jazz store page also has playable samples that are 90 seconds long; holding very little back for buyers. Mr. DJ hit that button!
Disc one ended with a lovely take on “Under Pressure” with sparkling piano from Mike Garson in addition to Gail Ann Dorsey’s duet vocals with David Bowie being a particular calling card in this period of Bowie’s repertoire. After “retiring” so many of his hits on the “Sound + Vision” tour it added a bravura turn to highlight his contemporaneous sets reliant on less popular material. The massed backing vocals on the song’s climax were icing on the cake.
I admired Bowie referring to “Heart’s Filthy Lesson” as an “oldie but goldie” and the pull on this usually underperforming Bowie song was the berserk tone on Reeves Gabrel’s guitar tone. But what a burst of energy the title track to “Scary Monsters [And Super Creeps]” afforded the program! Hearing anything from that album was like a gift given that the tour for it was cancelled following the assassination of John Lennon in 1980. I loved the dueling bursts of guitar and synth pulse in the stripped down middle eight. Elsewhere, the kitchen sink was thrown into the pixilated mix, with crashing drum fills and Drum + Bass loops fighting with Gabrel’s insane guitar solo.
Afterward, the mood intensified with a version of “Hallo Spaceboy” that was all about the album version. The less said about the wrong-headed Pet Shop Boys remix single version the better. This song needed the brutalizing vibe of the album version to accurately embody the violence of re-entry that was at the song’s core. Every time I hear this I can imagine sitting in a tin can screaming through the atmosphere ready to shake apart by the resistance. Or maybe a most pit. I get confused. But Garson’s valiant solo was deliciously at odds with the head-banging vibe for maximum dissonance.
To follow this with the intense, but light-hearted “Little Wonder” showed good sequencing. Possibly the most endearing Bowie has even been captured when live was his spirited exhortation of “hot diggety!” before the solos in the second movement of the Drum +Bass track. That song closed out the set but the biggest thrills to comes would be found in the generous encore segment.
The always exciting “Dead Man Walking” was for me, the immediate highlight of “Earthling” and one of the best songs I’d heard from Bowie post-1980 to the time of its release. Again, the joy and power of Gail Ann Dorsey’s backing vocals were a joy to hear. The only disappointment was in the decision to play a four minute version of the six minute opus. Ending it with a fade chord instead of Mike Garson’s nimble [and surprising] samba that always hits me so wonderfully.
A fantastic new arrangement of “White Light/White Heat” followed as built on a pulsating synth loop that echoed Bowie’s panting in the intro. Gabrels’ solo was another monster here with Garson’s pummeling piano ending things on an energy peak. Bowie’s panting segued wonderfully into the biggest shocker in these sets, and the reason why I had to buy this release: the completely unexpected cover of Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman.” I remember this happening in the set we saw live and it was one of those utterly shocking concert moments where one can’t believe what one is hearing.
Ms. Dorsey carried the lead vocal here, with Bowie only joining in on the choruses. Where the minimalism of the arrangement expanded to take in carefully modulated elements of the Drum + Bass style Bowie was exploring at this time. Oscillating between the calmly spoken calls and the squelching fury of the instrumental responses. The decisions to incorporate this song into this set was a brilliant one.
Finally, the number two reason why I had to buy this edition was the ultimate song here. Bowie teased the audience “just stay…just for a minute or two” with scant recognition from the audience as the unfamiliar synth loop led them astray before Bowie let loose a “damn!” under his breath as Gabrels stuck the boot in on the distinctive riff at the heart of “Stay.” As pulsating synths spiraled upward against the funky rhythm that Zach Alford and Ms. Dorsey were putting down. The original arrangement was not taken to full embrace of Drum + Bass, but was still heavily altered to shake up the paradigm and to vigorously color outside of the song’s outlines.
What it was was every inch the showstopper that it had always been. Given the a full 7:41 to expand into an almost psychedelic version of the blistering Soul song. The guitar here was the least changed element of the song which helped to ground it against all of the pushing and pulling being done to it. With Gabrel’s final climactic solo finally cutting free of the song’s blueprint. What a thrill it was to hear this live and I’m gratified that this arrangement has been captured on disc here.
Until such time that the Bowie estate releases a 3xCD of “Night Two at The Chili Pepper,” this CD will hold a special place in my hear as at least an approximation of that utter and complete Bowie feast. The five piece band were necessarily built on a foundation of samples and loops to put across the Drum + Bass leanings of the “Earthling” material; but the level of musicianship that players like Garson, Dorsey, and Gabrels brought to the live playing ensured plenty of thrills.
And the set lists that Bowie was interested in exploring at this time were deep cut extravaganzas meant for the fans like myself who ended up sitting out the eighties and wondering if Bowie would ever rediscover his mojo. His tours of the nineties were proof that he was re-positioning himself in a more fitting place than his stadium years had evidenced. I’ll admit that I’ve not been bothered to buy all of the posthumous releases that the Bowie estate have been releasing, but I have enough of the live albums to know that they manage to supersede all of the official live releases in his canon. “Look At The Moon! [Live Phoenix Festival ’97]” remains in stock for $24.95 at the Bowie web store, but it won’t last forever. “Ouvre Le Chien [Live Dallas ’95]” is already sold out and expect all of the “Brilliant Live Adventures” series to follow suit sooner than later. I’ve got to admit, after hearing these two gems, the appearance of “Repetition” on the “Something In the Air [Live Paris ’99]” disc is whispering in my ear.
“Look At The Moon! [Live Phoenix Festival ’97]” was a snapshot of the very next tour David Bowie undertook for the “Earthling” album of 1997. The same band as the 1995 “Outside” tour were here, though Carlos Alomar, George Simms, and Peter Schwartz were trimmed from the lineup. Given that “Earthling” was Bowie’s experimentation with Drum + Bass music, there were a lot of loops and sequences on the album which were replicated with samplers and sequencers. In 1997 maybe a laptop was finally the thing, but the music here was leaning particularly hard on some form of playback to support the conceits of the current album. The caliber of the players who were live would have to make up for the lack of spontaneity to make it interesting.
David Bowie: Look At The Moon! – 2xCD 
The Man Who Sold The World
Driftin’ Blues/The Jean Genie
I’m Afraid Of Americans
Battle For Britain (The Letter)
Seven Years In Tibet
Looking For Satellites
The Hearts Filthy Lesson
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
Dead Man Walking
White Light/White Heat
As with the show we saw in Ft. Lauderdale, the set opened up with Bowie playing his “The Man Who Sold The World” deep cut “Quicksand” with himself playing an acoustic guitar for accompaniment at first. Eventually Mike Garson added string synths to fatten up the sound, as did bassist Gail Ann Dorsey’s superb backing vocal harmonies. Having the full album roar in for the final climactic chorus. It was an unexpected and fidelitous rendition of a song few expected to hear.
It was followed by the now prescient downtempo, pseudo Drum + Bass arrangement of “The Man Who Sold The World” but the song’s climax had telltale key changes form Bowie before veering off into foreign lands with a sitar solo from Reeves Gabrels making the hint of saffron on the earlier recording a full bodied vibe.
A few bars of an acoustic “Driftin’ Blues'” on guitars fed into the inevitable “The Jean Genie” given a rousing rendition that emphasized its origins while Garson injected random wave synth burbles just below the surface. The Bowie classic had an excited Bowie exhort, “Look at the moon!” thus giving this volume its title.
The grimy, aggressive “I’m Afraid Of Americans” always sounded every inch like a part of the previous album, “1:Outside,” so it was always the odd one out in the context of “Earthling.” The music bed for this one was all canned for the verses; only letting the band rip on the chorus. The jittery “Battle For Britain [The Letter]” pushed deeper into that trait of Bowie’s attempt to mate Rock and Drum + Bass and live that meant a lot of samples and sequences. With even BVs being playback where Bowie was being multiplexed in the sound. But wow, Garson was stunning me on the piano solo!
It was a real pleasure hearing Gabrels and Dorsey tearing into the re-think of “Fashion.” The minimalism of the original 1980 arrangement being swapped for something packed a lot tighter with the funkiest sort of detail. Ms. Dorsey’s vocals with Bowie here were practically a duet; making her presence in the band doubly worthwhile.
I loved the lonely, bluesier take and the clean tone of Gabrels guitar in the intro to “Seven Years In Tibet.” I’m so used to hearing his instrument roar and wail that it was a surprise to hear something that lyrical from him. But the song’s chorus showed him unleashing all of the power we expect from him. This was followed by the “Is It Any Wonder” re-think of “Fame” that never quite convinced me. Though this sounded better than other versions I’d heard. “Looking For Satellites,” based on a loop of Bowie saying non sequitur words was a faithful re-creation of the album, but given a point of interest in Gabrels’ guitar solo in the middle eight that felt like licking a 4-pack of 9-volt batteries as it spiraled ever upward into a high-energy singularity of sound.
In theory, the issue of the limited edition set of 1990s Bowie tour albums as the Brilliant Live Adventures series, was a cool and wonderful thing. The 90s were all about Bowie re-finding his mojo after the excesses and compromises of the 80s, and it was an interesting process to observe as a fan. We were pulling for Bowie to become BOWIE again. And musically, he was working out his issues admirably. But the manner in which this series of live albums being sold online came off was seen to be something of a 12-car pileup of music retailing. For starters, there were only 6000 physical CD copies of the six albums in the series, [4000 for the LP versions] and the last time I checked, David Bowie has a lot of fans.
As the drip-feed of each volume happened, the issues with online sales became worse and worse. With the last few editions selling out in hours and resulting in the crashing of the various sales platforms of the online dealers. All of which made the fans understandably irate. At the time I observed from afar; I had not been buying much music in 2020 owing to the instability of the juncture between covid-19 and my employment. So I passed on these Bowie albums at the time. That’s not to say that I was uninterested. Just that I’d decided not to worry about them too much. Especially seeing them skyrocket into the heavy three figure price in the ravenous aftermarket.
But in 2021, the Bowie estate issued mea culpas on the way the sales had been handled. To that they they decided to press up another run of the series to better meet demand and soothe fevered brows. They set up a web page to gauge interest where fans were encouraged to say which volumes they would be interested in buying a re-pressing of. Fair enough! I had seen the “1:Outside” and “Earthling” tours and they had some amazing highlights that were duly captured on two of the volumes: “Ouvrez Le Chine” and “Look At The Moon!” So I voted for those, and it was not a commitment to buy. Just a show of interest. But over a year later, the albums were back in the Bowie store late last year. And though I’m “trying to cut down,” about a month and a half ago, I bought the two live albums I was interested in. How did the performances shape up?
David Bowie: Ouvrez Le Chien – World – CD 
Look Back In Anger
The Hearts Filthy Lesson
The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)
I Have Not Been To Oxford Town
The Man Who Sold The World
We Prick You
Joe The Lion
The band assembled for this tour was the first one in five years for Bowie solo. The only thing between the 1990 “Sound + Vision” tour and this one was the Tin Machine “It’s My Life” tour of ’91-’92. The band was formed and featured three Bowie veterans as well as his new foils.
David Bowie – vocals, saxophone
Carlos Alomar – rhythm guitar, vocals
Reeves Gabrels – lead guitar, vocals
Gail Ann Dorsey – bass, vocals
Zachary Alford – drums
Peter Schwartz – keyboards, synthesizers
George Simms – vocals
Mike Garson – piano, keyboards
When I saw this tour in Atlanta, four days prior to this recording on October 13th, 1995 in Dallas, I was thrilled that I was seeing Bowie with Mike Garson back on piano and the lead guitarist who I felt saved his bacon, Reeves Gabrels. But the material sourced for this set list was a blend of the just released “1:Outside” album and impeccable pulls from Bowie’s Art Rock back catalogue. The sort of material he quarantined his more popular material via the “Sound + Vision” tour specifically to limit himself to.
A vibrant “Look Back In Anger” opened this set with the modern arrangement of the song he’d performed at the La La La Human Steps show in 1987 with Reeves Gabrels. This live version was even better than that [excellent] recording as a bonus track on the 1991 Ryko “Lodger” CD owing to the glassy shards of perpendicular piano inserted here capably by Mike Garson. I can remember paying particular attention to him in the live setting of the show we attended.
Next followed a quartet of new material. “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” was always an overwrought collision of cod-industrial with the labored and infuriating conceptual thematic conceit of the “1:Outside” album acting as a weight around the ankles of all of the songs. “The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction [As Beauty]” came off somewhat better due the blistering solo that Gabrels took for nearly the last two minutes of the song.
“I Have Not Been To Oxford Town” might be my favorite song of the album; a theatrical sea shanty with a melody that lasted for days while the title track simply meandered for four and a half minutes. Much more excitement could be found in the electric new arrangement of “Hunky Dory’s” “Andy Warhol!” The juxtaposition of Carlos Alomar on acoustic guitar and Gabrels filthy distortion was an inspired usage of each guitarist. And the random wave synth burbling underneath the surprisingly aggressive new arrangement was simply thrilling.
Not much revision came to the still amazing “Breaking Glass,” It sounded like they even used the same ARP patch for the descending synth hook! Ans in 1995, you can imagine that it was an actual ARP 2600. This band was owning this material! I’ve gone on record as to not being on board with “The Man Who Sold The World,” but this new, incredibly subtle arrangement was a real winner. Certainly the best recording of it by anyone on disc I’d ever heard. The subtle yet still dynamic arrangement had a Lalo Schifrin feel to it. With tablas, gentle synth washes, and a subdued energy. As duly noted by the subtle howls emanating from Gabrel’s guitar, at least until he cut loose with his solo! They jittery rhythms of this track segued easily into the proto “Earthling” rhythms of the subsequent “We Prick You.”
“I’m Deranged” benefited from a shocking insertion of Alomar’s scorching wah-wah rhythm guitar. But the two further cuts from the new album tended to depress the energy here. Fortunately, the show went out with a bang with four Bowie deep cuts and classics. The muscular “Joe the Lion” was a treat to hear with Fripp-adjacent guitarist Gabrels biting deep into the music with a pleasing mixture of gusto and tastelessness. The rhythm section emphasized the tune’s boogie feel while Gabrels made the song his own.
If there can be said to be one song’s inclusion in the set that clinched my purchase of this disc, it was “Nite Flights.” When I saw this tour, I was spellbound by the amazing Scott Walker cover that was the apex of “Black Tie White Noise” getting a rare airing. The cinematic synth strings in the intro coupled with doppler-shifting white noise patches calling back to “Station To Station” could only be a great Bowie touchstone. I loved hearing the foghorn-like synth hook that always gave me chills rendered on guitar with an elegant line in feedback from Gabrels.
Furthermore, the athletic walking bass line and operatic soprano backing vocals by Gail Ann Dorsey gave this extended workout on the incredible song a real soaring quality that made for Bowie’s baritone, Walker-esque crooning. Special mention must also go to the BVs of George Simms; who harmonized so tightly with Bowie that I thought he had overdubbed himself here! Hearing this live was a real gift.
Ms. Dorsey got another chance to shine even more brightly with her star turn duetting with Bowie on the unexpected Pop classic of “Under Pressure.” It was certainly the biggest hit in the program in America even at a scandalously low number 29 Top 40 placing. Ms. Dorsey effortlessly occupies the Freddie Mercury shaped hole in the song to bring it to astonishing life. Once could imagine Bowie thrilled to have a bass player who was capable for filling in this effectively for the late Mercury! The arrangement did not significantly differ from the 1981 hit, but with a song this great, that was perhaps the correct way to present it.
Finally, the concert ended with the bravura performance of the great “Scary Monsters” deep cut “Teenage Wildlife. It was a thrill to hear Gabrels take on another classic Fripp lead guitar and right out of the gate he was inserting fruity modulations of his guitar to immediately differentiate himself. With Garson adding straightforward, yet poignant piano fills. Having a band with over half of the member also singing made the backing vocals for this one a joy as well. Bowie also retreated from the Anthony Newley-esque phrasing he favored on the album version; managing to reclaim this into his mature period.
This was a joy to listen to but I have to play devil’s advocate and mention that the new songs here, while good, tended to stand in stark contrast to the unimpeachable classics that surrounded them. The band were excellent across the board. But having four tunes from “1:Outside” sitting up front as a slightly indigestible mass, tended to take this program down a peg. Which was almost a crime, because the pre-1995 material here was unimpeachably terrific. When I think of what David Bowie means to me, this may be the most enjoyable live album I’ve ever heard from his quarters! Which makes it unsurprising when visiting the davidbowie.com web store to see that this second pressing is no longer available. Making my impulse to buy it a few weeks ago absolutely correct. If you might have an interest, act fast as the aftermarket is starting to see the title skyrocket in price again with it still a two-figure disc. But maybe not for long.