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David Bowie – Stage At Budokan (Stardust 001A/B)

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Stage At Budokan (Stardust 001A/B)

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 11th, 1978

Disc 1: Warszawa, “Heroes”, What In The World, Be My Wife, The Jean Genie, Blackout, Sense Of Doubt, Breaking Glass, Fame, Beauty & The Beast

Disc 2: Five Years, Soul Love, Star, Hang On To Yourself, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City, Art Decade, Moon Of Alabama, Station To Station, TVC 15, Stay, Rebel Rebel

The Low and Heroes tour was David Bowie’s biggest tour of his career up to that point. It began on March 29th in San Diego and ending at Earl’s Court in London at the end of June. The second half began on November 11th in Adelaide, Australia and ending with two dates at the Budokan in Tokyo. This show on December 11th is the penultimate gig of the tour and marks one of his final live appearances for about five years.

(Bowie wouldn’t tour again until 1983′s Modern Love tour.) Stage At Budokan presents a virtually complete audience source (there is a small cut in “Stay”). It was taped quite a distance from the stage and sounds distorted and compressed.

Given the scarcity of Bowie silver boots I really wish I could say this was an excellent stereo audience recording that is one of the year’s best releases. Instead this is merely a fair recording that is difficult at times to really listen to. The mediocre sound quality is a real shame because the show itself is phenomenal.

The weight of the set list is upon the Berlin-Eno material beginning with the ambient track “Warszawa” and its eastern scales, but he plays “plastic soul” songs like “Fame” and even a short Ziggy Stardust set. The finale of “Art Decade”, “Moon Of Alabama”, “Station To Station” and “TVC” is played in a furor with strong connotations to the Weimar Republic thrown in for good measure. The Diamond Dogs track “Rebel Rebel” is played as an encore and gives us something catchy to leave with. I believe this is the first release of this particular tape source.

A release from Europe called Live In Budokan 1978 on Blue Apes (BAR-485) is currently circulating claiming to be from this date with excellent sound quality. I couldn’t find any information about that release and suspect it may be the following show on December 12th, 1978.  

Stage At Budokan is on the one off Stardust label and come competently packaged with several good photos from the era. If the sound quality were better I’d recommend this title without reservation to everybody. As it is, this will appeal to the hardcore Bowie collector who will tolerate the mediocre sound quality and enjoy the historic artistic experience. Hopefully a better source will surface someday.

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