(78:58) WBCN Radio Fort Apache Studios, Cambridge, MA – April 8, 1997: Scary Monsters, Seven Years In Tibet, Dead Man Walking, The Jean Genie, I Can’t Read. KMTT 103.7 The Mountain, Seattle, WA – September 8, 1997: Intro and Interviews, The Supermen (part), Dead Man Walking, Interview, Always Crashing In The Same Car, Interview, Scary Monsters. KFOG-FM Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA – September 16, 1997: Intro, Always Crashing In The Same Car, Interview, I Can’t Read, Interview, Scary Monsters, Interview, Dead Man Walking, Outro
To promote his Earthling CD in 1997, David Bowie made good use of the media by performing on MTV, The Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live, and various radio sessions in the United States. These radio sessions are the subject of this new release by the folks at the Golden Eggs label. The format for the radio sessions were simple, David, Reeves Gabrels and acoustic guitars in front of a small in studio audience with stories of music from David and lucky audience members received a chance to ask questions, Bowie answers some tongue in cheek, others quite serious.
The first session on this collection is from Fort Apache Studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. This is a truncated version of the recording, features only the music and none of the interview segment, the event was attended by 100 fans and the whole recording can be easily streamed on the internet. I listened to a bit of the interviews, one fan asked him how long it took his eyebrows to grow back after the Ziggy Stardust retirement. The sound quality of the acoustic tracks on this release are excellent non broadcast sound, full range of frequencies and surprisingly even with the audience part, the atmosphere is great.
The set list is simple and effective, a couple classic tracks, Scary Monsters (more on this below) and The Jean Genie, a couple from Earthling with a really nice Seven Years In Tibet and Dead Man Walking, and lastly a track from the first Tin Machine record with I Can’t Read. David is in fine voice and Reeves’ playing is superb, as is David’s acoustic accompaniment. With the full recording clocking in at just under an hour, I am actually glad they cut the interview portion down as the majority is covered on the other two.
The second session takes place in a Seattle radio station The Mountain 103.7FM on September 8, 1997. Bowie and his band had played the intimate Paramount Theater the previous evening, and again lucky fans were chosen to be in the audience to listen and ask questions. The sound quality sounds like an actual radio broadcast recording so a notch below, again the sound is excellent and has a very intimate feel to it and we are treated to the full recording with complete interview. The session begins with the DJ giving his appreciation for the excellent performance the night before, once things settle down David begins to reminisce about 1971 and a studio session with Jimmy Page who shows him, and then gives him, the riff to what would become The Supermen on The Man Who Sold The World. He goes on to tell how they use the same riff for Dead Man Walking, very cool.
Other parts of the interview feature Bowie talking about the rest of the band who were backing him, a bit about his various masks that takes them into the Twilight Zone, the similarities between Bowie’s sister and wife Iman, even a bit of insight into Andy Warhol. The music is just three songs, Dead Man Walking, a deep track from the Low record Always Crashing In The Same Car, and Scary Monsters. Always Crashing is really interesting to hear so stripped down, sheer brilliance, and as promised above, all three versions of Scary Monsters on this disc feature David doing the song ala Johnny Cash, this version even more so as David mimics an almost parody of Johnny’s vocal style…”Thank you partner”.
The third session comes just a week later and 850 miles south, David and Reeves are in Berkeley, California to help KFOG-FM celebrate the stations 15th birthday. This is from a rebroadcast of the event and features perfect sound quality and does not sound like a broadcast recording. The session takes place between Bowie’s two dates in San Francisco at the famous, and intimate, Warfield Theater, the vibe is very loose and Bowie is again in wonderful spirits, the event was commandeered by DJ’s John Gruppone & Anna Lisa and it kind of reminds me to the Pitch Perfect movies.
The questions are cool, someone asks about his old stage cloths and if there is a Bowie outlet store, spiritual well being (very poignant), The Ice Storm, making movies (his answer surprised me), hanging in San Fran, collecting art, are all exciting topics. The music portion is the same as the other events, Always Crashing, I Can’t Read, Scary Monsters, and Dead Men Walking. While the music on paper to be repetitive, the stories in between forces you to listen in a different light, all the while David seems to play on his public persona, the chameleon blending in.
The packaging is typical Golden Eggs, tri-gatefold sleeve with pictures of David and Reeves, the interior liner notes are superb and feature lengthy quotes about David by Reeves himself, I found really riveting to read and pretty intimate really. For those who love this period in David’s career or for those who like radio rock interviews, this disc is for you.