Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Here's the latest batch of Bowie, which continues unabated. The biggest news is the first wide release of Welcome To The Blackout, a live album from 1978 that came out on vinyl only on Record Store Day, now available on CD and digital services. The other two are vinyl re-releases of side projects from the early '80's, making sure everything gets reissued in every conceivable way. These are so-called "bricks and mortar" releases, meaning they are only available in actual physical stores, kind of like Record Store Day all year long.

Welcome To The Blackout is from the Isolar II tour of 1978, the same tour that gave us the Stage live album. By the track list alone, you'd think it's pretty much the same, but there are quite a few differences in the performances, for a couple of reasons. The recordings for Stage were done in April and May in the U.S. leg of the tour, while this one comes from London's Earl's Court in July at the end of the tour. The band is looser, more experimental, having fun, and even Bowie is playful, adding a few vocal asides. They play a live version of the song Sound and Vision that night, the first time that Low track had been tried in concert, a rare addition for a tour that had featured identical set lists almost every night. The biggest difference is the rather rigid approach of the earlier shows, the icy stance of the synth music replaced by some pyrotechnics led by guitar whiz Adrian Belew. If you've only heard the original Stage album, you won't recognize the order of the songs here. Stage moved things around quite a bit, starting with a side of Ziggy Stardust, but here you get the songs in the same order as the original concert (plus the addition of Suffragette City, not included on the regular edition of Stage).

The soundtrack to Christiane F. has long been a favourite of Bowie fans from the late '70's era, as its basically a greatest hits of the so-called Berlin years. It includes Station to Station, Stay, TVC-15, and a unique version of "Heroes"/Helden, an edit of the original with some of the German language version cut in. The German film was pretty bleak, the story of a teenage drug addict in the Berlin underground of the late '70's, and became a cult favourite in these parts thanks to Bowie's appearance as himself in a concert scene.

Baal is an EP of the five songs performed by Bowie in the BBC play by Bertolt Brecht. The songs are translations of the originals, with mostly new music, and Bowie did studio versions with producer Tony Visconti after the performance, so he could release them as a new project. It even sold a fair amount, mostly on Bowie's name alone, as they are certainly not rock. These are from the art/cabaret school, part of the story as well, but still enjoyable on their own. Well, enjoyable if you don't mind, say, Bowie's version of Alabama Song for instance, and it certainly has a good amount of fans; It just not, say, Rebel Rebel. It's more a completist thing, but at least with these vinyl reissues, you have that choice again

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