David Bowie, ‘The All American Bowie – Jon Wizardo two track mono master reel’ (DBASO7)
Ode To Joy / Hang On To Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Changes / Moonage Daydream / Panic In Detroit / Aladdin Sane / Watch That Man / Five Years / The Width Of A Circle / Memory Of A Free Cloud / My Death / Space Oddity / Time / Suffragette City / The Jean Genie / Rock N’ Roll Suicide (79:50)
Live at Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA, USA. 10th March, 1973
Where would we be without Jon Wizardo? One of the premier tapers and bootleggers in the industry – having long since hung up his socks, he’s now making easy living somewhere in the world, spreading out the recordings that made him his worth. A lengthy and fruitful interview can be found on the Floydboots site right here. The recordings that Jon has since passed out to collectors, has slowly begun leaking out on to the internet where the following bootleg was sourced from – One of THOSE bootlegs that has hit the hilt of Bowie collectors collectors, the show, from Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA, USA on the 10th March, 1973 – this was, as I’m sure you’re aware if you’re reading this Ziggy’s first tour of the US and he justified his spaceman idea by cracking the market that a young Davy Jones would have been more than breathless to do.
Originally released by Jon on the LP, ‘All American Bowie’, (Trade Mark of Quality TMQ 71074 DB 542 A/B), the LP took in another couple of pressings but seemed to take an age before it was actually pressed on to CD – Now, however, being taken from the master cassette itself (a two track mono reel) it’s the best and longest version of this tape, if not the show itself we’re ever likely to get. More of the history of these boots can be found on the Amazing Kornyfone label site than I could expand upon (So go there after you’ve read this review and see what they wrote there.)
And won’t the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you hear it! Reliving all those nascent bootleg memories you’ll have from first scouring round for the delicious hit of the illicit recording as you’d recently heard about these beauties and, having snacked upon the official catalogue of your favourite artist(s), you were determined to find a few more nuggets.
Earlier, when I pointed out that this tape was the longest, the most recent CD version I had was 64:08 mins long. This new version is an incredible 79:50 mins in length – The reason for the extension is that ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’, ‘Space Oddity’, ‘The Jean Genie’ AND ‘Rock ’N Roll Suicide’ are all on Jon’s tape but were omitted from previous versions, they appear here in the way they were played in the set.
The original tape, as clearly as it is, starts with the wobbly, disjointed ‘Ode To Joy’ from “A Clockwork Orange”, it’s slightly overblown, rough-around-the-chops distance giving it a slightly toasted, brittlesh sound. This new transfer sounds a great deal better. There’s apparent if not crystal clear definition between the (main) musicians.
The tape starts a few seconds before ‘Ode ..’ actually begins and features the lyrics in all their vocoder glory, once the band boot straight in to ‘Hang On To Yourself’ the difference between the tapes is way apparent – Less bulky, a little more distant maybe but cleaner than a shower of sequins. It’s still vintage sounding for sure, there are a few pops and crackles on the tape when Bowie steps away from the microphone and Mick Ronson launches in to an elephantine solo explosion but the fizz of it all is worked away by the pure-pop thrill of the show.
It’s not only brilliant but wonderfully funny too – Note the thick-British accents as the band chime in on the chorus of ‘Changes’. Their accents sounds natural to me but it’s a stark contrast to the studio classic and a world away from Bowie.
Of the previously missing tracks, ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’ is a silly little false start for Bowie to take a dig at himself with, ‘Space Oddity’ is incomplete due to a tape flip. It also suffers with tape stretch, ‘The Jean Genie’ has more than it’s share of pops and snaps through it as the machine overloads. Toughened ears will be used to the sound, no doubt but it’s slightly more a difficult listen – It does finish with the “Love Me Do”-esq ending which makes it worth the effort, ‘Rock ‘N Roll Suicide’ shows the same wear for parts of it’s play through – Now-a-days, no bootlegger would give it much mind (See, er, this review) and it’s a sterling play-out to the set.
The tape fades out just as the exit music starts.
The simple inserts are in deep monochromatic red on the outside with a classic art-deco text, the stage shots inside are in full colour and are all different to the previous Wardour release – They also feature the tape box photos of Johns and typed notes that would accompany the original vinyl boot.
Needless to say, for Bowie fans it’s obviously a must – But for fans of rock, glam, pop, bootlegs, history, it’s well worth grabbing as it’s an awesome show and worthy of everybody’s collection