“Live Santa Monica ‘72” by David Bowie

Artist: David Bowie
Title: “Live Santa Monica ‘72”
Label: Virgin Music
Release Date: 7/22/2008
Genre: Rock
Rating: 5/5

Recorded at the Santa Monica auditorium in 1972, David Bowie’s “Live Santa Monica ‘72” is a special release for a number of different reasons and the first one is that the recording finds the singer doing it during his first US tour ever. It’s also important to note that the he had only recently introduced the world to his enigmatic alter ego Ziggy Stardust, and as result a number of the tracks would come from his “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars” album. This would also be his first radio broadcast and it aired live as it happened – believe it or not, before this CD was released, the only way that fans could enjoy the songs from this show was on a very well circulated bootleg. Since this was the case I am saying with certain levels of zeal “it’s about time”. Music fans all know full well the talents that David Bowie possesses and that his work over the decades has been nothing short of prolific. One can listen to his earliest compositions and still find that they stand strong against anything that is released today. His alter ego of Ziggy Stardust was a different matter altogether and a work of genius in its own right, as during this time he actually stopped being David Bowie and morphed into the space travelling musician called Ziggy.

The album “Ziggy Stardust” remains one of the most relevant and powerful in his whole catalog so it was rather exciting for me to hear it when these songs were so fresh and new. The appearance that Ziggy had onstage was rather shocking for the time and it is partially responsible for many bands that would adopt this kind of thing and end up forming Glitter or Glam Rock bands. The show on this recording is nothing short of incredible as the singer and his band are in synch with one another making each and every tune a dramatic and moving piece. The Spiders were made up of Mick Ronson (guitar), Trevor Bolder (bass), Mick “Woody” Woodmansey (drums) and Mike Garson (piano) and all of these guys knew how to Rock. When you put the CD in your stereo you will find that it is hard to listen to only one or two tracks because once the show gets into gear you find yourself caught up in the moment and interested in listening from beginning to end as if you were sitting in the audience yourself. While the highlights are many, my particular long time favorite tracks are “Ziggy Stardust”, “Five Years”, “Life On Mars” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide”. I left off “Space Oddity” because who doesn’t like that one and the same applies for “Changes” and “Suffragette City”.

Bowie or Ziggy Stardust (depending on how you see it) talks to the audience in moderation and prefers to let his songs do the talking and talk they most certainly do. He does two covers on the album, the first one being Jacques Brel’s “My Death” (which is a song that I always felt was quite powerful when done by Bowie) and “Waiting For The Man” that was originally performed by the Velvet Underground. He does a killer live version of “The Width Of A Circle” from “The Man Who Sold The World” and this one is a ten minute rocker. I was sad to not find the title track from that same record presented since it seemed to be a tune that worked well within the Ziggy Stardust concept. Bowie also chooses to treat the audience to some new music by delivering “The Jean Genie” which would come from the album after “TRaFoZSaTSfM” – the future classic “Aladdin Sane”. The limited edition of the CD comes with a full color booklet that presents photos from this very performance so it will not only take you back musically but also in the visual sense.

This is a real treat for any David Bowie fan as well as those music enthusiasts who are only just now learning about the impact on the genre that he had spearheaded. It’s the kind of album that sends you down to the basement to dig up old vinyl of his work again, or search around your CD collection to once again absorb his glory and his influence. Given this was a great example of Bowie live, I must recommend that anyone who purchases this CD also takes some time to rent the DVD film “Ziggy Stardust” as this show will give you a better visual of what Bowie was all about during this point in his career. The film not only features a number of songs that are not on this CD, but it is also Bowie’s final show as Ziggy Stardust ever. Unlike many bands that revisit their past in their later years, David Bowie has never put back on the Ziggy outfits or makeup since ending his reign as the character in 1973. To my knowledge this will be the only official live CD that he has ever released. Again, it is a must have release that I found myself listening to several times before putting my thoughts together on it.

Track Listing:
1. Introduction
2. Hang On To Yourself
3. Ziggy Stardust
4. Changes
5. The Supermen
6. Life On Mars?
7. Five Years
8. Space Oddity
9. Andy Warhol
10. My Death
11. The Width Of A Circle
12. Queen Bitch
13. Moonage Daydream
14. John, I’m Only Dancing
15. Waiting For The Man
16. The Jean Genie
17. Suffragette City
18. Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide

Official Website: www.davidbowie.com

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