The end of 2002 brought with it the inevitable new compilation for the coming Christmas season. It had been 1994 when the Bowie singles had last gotten a push, so there was another comp in the pipeline. “Best Of Bowie.” After all, the holders of his portfolio needed a cash boost, I’m sure. The compilation pulled form a dizzying array of 63 tracks, that were optimized for maximum commercial impact in each of the 21 territories that it was released in one or two CD versions! Phew! I’m tired just thinking about it. I will say that the single disc US edition is not much more than “Changesonebowie” albeit from the Ryko 90s. The 2xCD edition was a much better fit in my opinion, with some sweet deep cuts offsetting the more egregious single edits picked with an eye on running time, of course! Did I buy a copy? Er, no. Apart from the 7″ mix of the Moroder “Cat People” there was nothing here that I didn’t already have on a shiny silver disc, but I did get this as a gift from my thoughtful wife.
When we last got a “comprehensive” video collection on optically read media, the laserdisc was, well, if not actually king, then certainly the powerful wizard behind the throne. 25 Clips in under 2 hours. By 2002, the DVD had plowed down the LD format like tanks into Poland. The 2xDVD was packed with everything that had been on the already amazing laserdisc plus a heck of a lot more. 55 Clips including at least an hour of annoying hidden “Easter Eggs.” It’s an extremely thorough collection that plays for at least 4 hours. Why they saw fit to hide some of it through elaborate and laybrinthian means of accessing it is a question better minds should answer.
I have to admit that the cover’s notion of an illustration of Bowie made up of fragmented personae images had been percolating in my mind for over a decade, but I didn’t quite have the Photoshop® horror that Rex Ray executed in my mind’s eye. I was thinking of a more sophisticated, illustrative approach, but no one asked me. The other downsides to this feast of Bowie video? Well, the clips for “China Girl,” “Day In-Day Out” and most hurtfully, “Loving The Alien” were the censored versions. I can live without seeing a glimpse of Bowie’s rear end but the “nosebleed shot” in “Loving The Alien” was the best thing about that sugar-injected, fondant-iced layer cake of a video. I immediately lamented its exclusion.
The final problem with the video was that certain clips, were much worse looking than the laserdisc I had. Specifically, the amount of interframe delta on “Miracle Goodnight” was made before digital compression was a concern for video. Whenever each frame of video has many, many pixels moving at the same time, as this clip with its kaleidoscopic imagery does, it looks like garbage as the DVD MPEG codecs are strained to the breaking point to cope. So holding onto the laserdiscs with this video will yield the best looking version even 14 years later.
Next: …Avoiding Reality