I must thank my friend Pablo for pointing out this two-hour radio show on the BBC hosted by David Bowie in 1979. He pointed out this post on Dangerous Minds, who credit the find to John Coulthart. There have been several cannibalistic posts that share the link to the two-hour radio show on YouTube and the track list with not a lick of insight into why Bowie may have chosen some of the songs he did. If you want to read the tracklist, you can jump through the Dangerous Minds post (Update: I found a complete transcript of the radio show here). They buried it under the link to the video posted by a YouTube user over a year ago. Here’s the link to the radio show:

I’ll refrain from sharing the playlist because it’s so much more interesting to hear the songs by surprise with Bowie talking about each track before and after he plays them. However, I can’t help but share some of the revelations on the show, being a hardcore Bowie fan in tune to his influences and tastes. At this point in his career, Bowie had dropped the guise of putting on over-the-top personas. He just sounds like a down-to-earth music geek sharing some of his favorite music. You’ll hear him play a record by an early influence, for instance, as he challenges the audience to guess who it might be. He shares the genuinely surprising answer afterward. After revealing the singer’s name, Bowie says, “He had this strange thing where he threw away his rings and all that to become a preacher for a bit, and this was an outcome of that … How he changed his voice like that, he must have given up something else, I think.” It’s a bit of a delight to hear the so-called chameleon of rock ‘n’ roll marvel at another musician who changed up his identity before him.

You can tell Bowie likes some songs he plays more than others. He says of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” “I used to love this one” and cuts it short. However, he loves every last note of “For Your Pleasure,” by Roxy Music, calling Ferry’s repetition of “Tara Tara” at the end of the track, “a beautiful gesture.” After playing a Bob Seger track, though, Bowie remarks, “Now, I’m not sure about that one.” Then he admits he played it for the sake of his ego because it has the word “Lodger” in the lyrics, the same title of the album he was on the radio to promote. He also plays a few songs from that album, which had only come out two days earlier, that weren’t necessarily singles from the record. “D.J.” was not among the tracks, but wouldn’t that be too obvious for Bowie?


However, the lyric, “I am a D.J./I am what I play,” is so accurate. He plays music by former collaborators like Iggy Pop, Robert Fripp (the Crimson piece), Jeff Beck, John Lennon as well as a freaky, kinetic post-punk track from a band called Mars, off an album that Brian Eno had recommended to him. Bowie even plays some songs he covered in the past as well as the future. He covered Bruce Springsteen’s “It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City” in 1975, but his version wouldn’t see release until 1989, as a “previously unreleased” track on the Sound+Vision box set. He also plays a song he would wind up covering way in the future, on his 2003 album Reality.

There are many great tidbits to be found in his wide ranging selection of music that varies from classical to soul to nursery music (no wonder his self-titled debut sounded like that) to punk rock. It’s worth discovering for yourself. I will end this post by noting that it’s quite funny that Bowie had to bring his own Mekons record because the BBC didn’t have it in its library. Like another friend of mine said in this post, “nobody gives a fuck about the Mekons.” That was true even in 1979, at the height of the post-punk scene, but at least Bowie proves he was hip to them.

Hans Morgenstern

If you’re wondering where the still image is from, it’s of course his video, for “D.J.” Watch it below.

And that snapshot of Lodger is my personal copy on my turntable.

(Copyright 2015 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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?:

We got buttons and reproduced promo 8x10s and a fan club pack from the time, among other bonus goodies, after all.

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.

(Copyright 2010 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)