December 31, 2010
As promised, here’s a note recognizing the reissue of 2010: EMI’s Deluxe vinyl/DVD/CD set of David Bowie’s 1976 album Station to Station. Of course, I spent a lot of this year blogging in anticipation of this release (Bowie’s Station to Station and ’76 Nassau concert streaming online now!,Advance copies for Bowie’s Station to Station features DVD-A,U.S. release date announced for Bowie’s Station to Station reissue,David Bowie’s Station to Station to be reissued in fancy 9-disc package), so I shan’t repeat myself here.
Still, despite a whopping array of nine different mixes of the same album across vinyl, CD and DVD, there remained something missing. Many have argued: why no video footage from the era, but I would say, where was the record store promo only ashtray?:
Still, in all seriousness, when it came to the music, there was one thing that flashed “oversight.” On the CD EP version of the album, featuring the single edits of every song on the six-track album, one edit was glaringly omitted: The “Wild is the Wind” video edit. Well, my friend Ray Garcia has re-created that mix using the remastered track off this set. Download it here. Sure, some might say that video was produced during 1980, anyhow, resulting in that edit that came long after the actual album. But some of the “edits” on the EP are a stretch anyhow (the title track reduced to only its second up-beat half?).
Beyond that, this set also includes one of Bowie’s most famous concert performances from the time, at New York’s Nassau Colosseum: on CD and vinyl. The vinyl actually does sound better than the CD, I found, as the CD sounded quite over-modulated, and the vinyl indeed sounded better on headphones. Though I never received the set as a promo from the label to review the vinyl here, I did get a cool consolation prize:
There were more cool reissues in 2010. There was high praise thrown about for Bruce Springsteen’s The Promise, featuring a whole second album’s worth of outtakes as good as the original album (studio outtakes were also sorely missing from the Station to Station reissue), including several DVDs. However, no vinyl.
If ever there was a runner-up to the Station to Station reissue in my book, it would be King Crimson’s 6-disc set of their debut 1969 album, In the Court of the Crimson King. It not only did it feature an array of studio takes of the music, but also a DVD audio with live video footage from the time and even a very rare mono mix for radio stations only taken off a vinyl record from Robert Fripp’s own library. Later on in the year, they even followed up on this release with a vinyl release on 200 g vinyl that sounded amazing. The box also even had buttons and a reproduction of the gatefold LP, as it was a 12-inch size anyhow. Here’s a look inside the box at how the discs were presented:
Very cool. Get it while you can, as it is a limited edition that seems to be selling out fast.
December 6, 2010
I could not recall if I had seen the 1974 BBC-produced David Bowie documentary Cracked Actor. I think I have a copy of this near hour-long doc on VHS in some cabinet somewhere. Then, the other day, I stumbled across a blog that is streaming the entire documentary on-line. It’s being hosted by the blog A Piece of Monologue. You can watch the entire thing here.
It’s notoriously referred to as a document of Bowie at his oddest, most drug-addled, but, despite the interview by a perplexed local newsman that kicks off the piece, I think Bowie comes off quite honest and straight-forward. There’s already a Bowie-centric website that has highlighted most of the important bits on a page featuring an array of quotes and images from the documentary here.
Bowie was an easy target in these days. He had just retired his glam-rock superstar persona Ziggy Stardust and had moved to LA to record a soul record. His eyebrows still shaved and appearing quite pale and gaunt, Bowie was at the height of his cocaine addiction. In one scene while riding in a limo, he shows great concern at the sounds of sirens, as he violently sniffs.
This image has constantly over-shadowed the creative genius depicted in Cracked Actor. He had just unofficially adapted George Orwell’s 1984 as a concept album and presented it as giant stage production. He provides unobtrusive insight to his William Burroughs-inspired style of writing lyrics with cut-up sentences. He also philosophizes on the psychological impact of doing an alter ego as a performer. It’s a worthwhile documentary that leaves you wondering where are all the smart pop stars nowadays.
December 1, 2010
The other day I received an email from the Vinyl Factory, one of the fanciest producers of vinyl records working today, announcing its upcoming release of none other than surrealist movie director David Lynch’s new electro-based single. The director of Blue Velvet recently signed a record deal with the UK-based indie label Sunday Best Recordings to release the record. The idea might sound strange, but the results are indeed Lynchian. The lead track, “Good Day Today” is dizzying in its warped, affected quality– from the repetitive lowering and rising volume of the backing synth to Lynch’s vocoder affected vocals (not to mention the beat recalls the “motorik” rhythms of many a Neu! track). Then, on “I Know,” Lynch sounds like some old blues lady backed by nasty, echoing bluesy guitar bursts that sound very familiar to the blues guitars that pop up on many of his films’ soundtracks. Click the titles of the songs to stream them on Soundcloud.
As far as the packaging, considering the triple gatefold 12-inch also includes a signed art print by famed album designer Vaughan Oliver, and a second slab of wax (its all on 180 gram vinyl) featuring remixes by “the finest electronic music producers of the past 20 years” (the site does not mention who), 30 quid ain’t that bad a price to pay. Some of the Vinyl Factory’s releases have been much more expensive and not as fancy.
Singing is something not all that new for Lynch. I first heard him sing a couple of years ago. in 2008, he did a song for his daughter, Jennifer Chambers Lynch’s second movie, Surveillance (2008). The song appeared briefly in the film and in its entirety during the film’s end credits. At first, I thought it was a new Neil Young song. Unfortunately, no soundtrack for the film exists, but you can hear “Speed Roadster” by clicking on the song’s title, right here.
Then Lynch sang probably the most moving song on the Danger Mouse / Sparklehorse collaboration Dark Night of the Soul (a soundtrack accompanying a book of Lynch-produced images). Long before the physical release of the album you could hear the songs in an interactive “pop-up” Flash-based website. As the album hung in legal limbo that website was the only place to hear some of the songs. The website is still live, and, with a little hunting, you can hear Lynch’s track … OK, I’ll reveal where to find it: Drag the screen over to your left where some cops are hosing down a man in his underwear and laughing. Iggy Pop’s pummeling “Pain” should be snarling among the image-scape. Once you endure that noisy assault, the much more melancholic sparkles of “Star Eyes (I Can’t Catch It)” filled with chirps of twinkling electronic burbles should begin. That’s Lynch singing, sounding not too different from a mellowed out Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips fame (Coyne also has a song on Dark Night of the Soul, btw).
Of course, Lynch has been messing with experimental music for many years. He often painstakingly works on the sonic atmosphere of his films, which clearly add another level of creepiness to his scenes. But, as far as I can recall, this singing career is a new thing for Lynch. Let me know of any other songs he may have sung. All that I have heard so far have been very interesting.