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David Live is David Bowie’s first official live album, originally released by RCA Records in 1974. Recorded on the initial leg of Bowie’s US tour supporting Diamond Dogs in July of that year (the second leg, a more soul-oriented affair following recording sessions for the bulk of Young Americans, would be renamed 'Phillymarker Dogs'), it is generally held by critics, fans, and Bowie himself alike to be a commercial stopgap lacking in energy.

The album catches Bowie in transition from the Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane glam-rock era of his career to the 'plastic soul' of Young Americans. While the cover featured a picture Bowie in his latest soul threads - baggy trouser suit complete with shoulder pads and suspenders from November 1974 - the music was recorded in July of that year when he was showcasing his two most recent studio albums of original material, Diamond Dogs and Aladdin Sane, as well as selected favourites from Ziggy Stardust and earlier.

The tour was Bowie’s most ambitious to date, featuring a giant set designed to evoke "Hunger City", the post-apocalyptic setting for Diamond Dogs, and his largest band, led by Michael Kamen. For "Space Oddity" (recorded at the time but not released until the album’s 2005 reissue) Bowie sang using a radio microphone disguised as a telephone whilst being raised and lowered above the stage by a cherry picker crane. The tour was documented in Alan Yentob’s Cracked Actor (1975).

Although various issues of the album date the recordings, at the Tower Theatermarker in Philadelphiamarker (actually Upper Darbymarker), from 11-12 July or 12-15 July, 1974, a more recent estimate suggests they took place over 8-12 July. Capturing the music on tape was itself problematic; most of the backing vocals, as well as the saxophone, needed to be overdubbed in the studio later (a fact noted on the original album sleeve as well as the reissue) due to the fact that the performers were often off-mike. Perhaps more saliently, the Tower Theater concerts gave rise to a backstage revolt by Bowie's touring band. Having been informed on short notice that the concerts would be professionally recorded for official release, and that Bowie's management intended to pay them only the standard union fee required for a live recording (a mere $70), the band confronted Bowie an hour before the first show and refused to take the stage unless they received a more reasonable $5,000 fee per member. Though Bowie acceded to their demands, several members of the band (including Mike Garson and Herbie Flowers) have since remarked that the tension of this confrontation was audible in the stilted performances found on the live album.

The finished album has been criticised for Bowie’s "obsessive" rearrangements of the songs and for the strained quality of his vocals. Opinion of the playing is also divided, despite the presence of such acclaimed guests as Michael Kamen, Earl Slick and David Sanborn, as well as Flowers, Mike Garson and Tony Newman from the Diamond Dogs sessions. However some of the interpretations earned praise, such as the upbeat jazz-Latin version of "Aladdin Sane" and the atmospheric instrumental additions to "The Width of a Circle" from The Man Who Sold the World. The record is also notable for including Bowie’s first release of "All the Young Dudes," a song originally given to the band Mott the Hoople for their 1972 album of the same name.

Bowie later commented that "David Live was the final death of Ziggy… And that photo on the cover. My God, it looks like I’ve just stepped out of the grave. That’s actually how I felt. That record should have been called 'David Bowie Is Alive and Well and Living Only in Theory'" (a reference to Jacques Brel, some of whose songs Bowie had covered, and his revue Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris).

David Live made #2 on the UK charts (the tour had only visited North America) and #8 in the US. "Knock on Wood" was released as a single, reaching #10 in the UK. A reissue of the album in 2005 finally included a complete song list from the original concerts plus a new mix by Tony Visconti, said to be an improvement over the fidelity of previous releases.

Track listing

All songs written by David Bowie except as noted.

LP: RCA / APL2-0771 (UK)

Side one

  1. "1984" – 3:20
  2. "Rebel Rebel" – 2:40
  3. "Moonage Daydream" – 5:10
  4. "Sweet Thing" (containing "Sweet Thing"/"Candidate"/"Sweet Thing (Reprise)") – 8:48

Side two

  1. "Changes" – 3:34
  2. "Suffragette City" – 3:45
  3. "Aladdin Sane" – 4:57
  4. "All the Young Dudes" – 4:18
  5. "Cracked Actor" – 3:29


Side three

  1. "Rock 'n' Roll with Me" (Bowie, Warren Peace) – 4:18
  2. "Watch That Man" – 4:55
  3. "Knock on Wood" (Eddie Floyd, Steve Cropper) – 3:08
  4. "Diamond Dogs" – 6:32

Side four

  1. "Big Brother" (containing "Big Brother"/"Chant of the Ever-Circling Skeletal Family") – 4:08
  2. "The Width of a Circle" – 8:12
  3. "The Jean Genie" – 5:13
  4. "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" – 4:30


Compact disc releases

This album has been re-released on CD three times to date, the first being in 1984/5 by RCA which was quickly withdrawn, in 1990 by Rykodisc/EMI (containing two bonus tracks and Bowie’s introduction to the audience of his band) and the second, most recent, in 2005 by EMI/Virgin containing two additional bonus tracks (though the version of "Panic in Detroit" had previously been released as the B-side to the UK single release of "Knock on Wood", and also reissued on the semi-legitimate 1982 compilation Rare), a reordering of these and previous bonus tracks into their correct position in the track listing, and a new mix by Tony Visconti. However, this release has been copy protected in the UK and EU with CDS 200.

1990 Rykodisc/EMI

Disc one

  1. "1984" – 3:20
  2. "Rebel Rebel" – 2:40
  3. "Moonage Daydream" – 5:10
  4. "Sweet Thing" (containing "Sweet Thing"/"Candidate"/"Sweet Thing (Reprise)") – 8:48
  5. "Changes" – 3:34
  6. "Suffragette City" – 3:45
  7. "Aladdin Sane" – 4:57
  8. "All the Young Dudes" – 4:18
  9. "Cracked Actor" – 3:29
  10. "Rock 'n' Roll with Me" (Bowie, Peace) – 4:18
  11. "Watch That Man" – 4:55

Disc two

  1. "Knock on Wood" (Floyd, Cropper) – 3:08
  2. "Diamond Dogs" – 6:32
  3. "Big Brother" (containing "Big Brother"/"Chant of the Ever-Circling Skeletal Family") – 4:08
  4. "The Width of a Circle" – 8:12
  5. "The Jean Genie" – 5:13
  6. "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" – 4:30
  7. Band Intro – 0:09 bonus track
  8. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" (Leroy Bonner, Joe Harris, Marshall Jones, Ralph Middlebrooks, Dutch Robinson, Clarence Satchell, Gary Webster) – 3:32 bonus track
  9. "Time" – 5:19 bonus track


2005 EMI/Virgin

Disc One

  1. "1984" – 3:20
  2. "Rebel Rebel" – 2:40
  3. "Moonage Daydream" – 5:10
  4. "Sweet Thing" – 8:48
  5. "Changes" – 3:34
  6. "Suffragette City" – 3:45
  7. "Aladdin Sane" – 4:57
  8. "All the Young Dudes" – 4:18
  9. "Cracked Actor" – 3:29
  10. "Rock 'n' Roll with Me" – 4:18
  11. "Watch That Man" – 4:55

Disc Two

  1. "Knock on Wood" – 3:08
  2. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" – 3:32
  3. "Space Oddity" – 6:27 bonus track
  4. "Diamond Dogs" – 6:32
  5. "Panic in Detroit" – 5:41 bonus track
  6. "Big Brother" – 4:08
  7. "Time" – 5:19
  8. "The Width of a Circle" – 8:12
  9. "The Jean Genie" – 5:13
  10. "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" – 4:30
  11. Band Intro – 0:09


Rock Concert/David Bowie at the Tower Philadelphia

A cut-down version of David Live called Rock Concert was released as a single disc by RCA in The Netherlandsmarker in 1979. In 1982 it was again released in The Netherlands as David Bowie at the Tower Philadelphia.

  1. "Rebel Rebel" – 2:40
  2. "Changes" – 3:34
  3. "Aladdin Sane" – 4:57
  4. "All the Young Dudes" – 4:18
  5. "Cracked Actor" – 3:29
  6. "Rock 'n' Roll With Me" – 4:18
  7. "Watch That Man" – 4:55
  8. "Diamond Dogs" – 6:32
  9. "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" – 4:30


Personnel



Charts

Album
Year Chart Position
1974 UK Albums Chart 2
1974 Billboard Pop Albums 8
1974 Norwaymarker's album chart 12


Single
Year Single Chart Position
1975 "Knock on Wood" UK Singles Chart 10
1975 "Knock on Wood" Norwaymarker's single chart 10


Certifications

Organization Level Date
RIAA – USA Gold


Notes



References

  • Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record
  • David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story
  • Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie



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