339413_4ko2noiseAhead of the unveiling of an exhibition of unseen images featuring David Bowie shot by Markus Klinko for the 2002 album Heathen, I had a chance to talk to the fashion photographer for an up-coming preview piece in the Miami New Times’ Arts and Culture blog (it’s live now, read it here). I was given a preview of many of the images (some of which illustrate this post) at the Miami Design District art gallery Markowicz Fine Art by gallery owner Bernard Markowicz. He also put Klinko on the phone with me, and we spoke for quite some time. After submitting my article to the Miami New Times, there was plenty of material left over, including some details Klinko knew the fans would appreciate. This is what this article is about.

When Bowie’s death from cancer was announced in the early morning hours of January 11, Klinko admits he was not completely surprised by it. Because he often worked with Bowie’s wife, the supermodel Iman, Klinko was one of the few Bowie collaborators who knew of Bowie’s illness. “I can’t say that I didn’t expect it,” he says speaking via phone from New York City. “Even though I didn’t know and nobody called me to say that he was about to die, I had a feeling that this was happening. I knew he was very sick. It was mentioned to me, and I saw the video a few days before he died for ‘Blackstar.’ I wasn’t surprised. I didn’t expect it, but I wasn’t surprised.”

He found out about Bowie’s passing at 69 the same way many others did, via social media. “I woke up and saw so many Bowie mentions on Instagram,” he recalls. “I was tagged on some of them. $_57One of my images was used on the cover of ‘Le Monde.’ There were a bunch of emails from people asking to publish images. It was waking up to an avalanche of Instagram tags, missed calls. It was definitely a busy morning.”

The idea for the upcoming exhibition came when he and Markowicz, who has represented Klinko for the past 15 months, discussed revealing some outtakes from the Heathen photo session for a touring exhibit. Klinko added the cancer benefit component (proceeds will go to Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research).

The photos were all taken after Bowie had recorded Heathen, during a day-long session at Klinko’s Soho studio in New York City. As with many of Klinko’s images, he collaborated with Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri who added effects in post-production, for instance erasing Bowie’s corneas for the album’s striking cover. Many of the images were never used and some later appeared on the pages of GQ. Still others never saw the light of day. “You can imagine how rich that session was,” says Klinko. “We got so much done in such a short time.”

Some of the images might bring to mind Bowie looks from past eras. Klinko points to things as subtle as a look in Bowie’s face to what he wears. 339413_2koala2sharp“There’s an image in the press release where he leans on a brick wall, I feel like there’s a bit of Ziggy Stardust in his expression there, different from all the other images from this set,” he notes. “Then there’s some of the Thin White Duke in the white shirt and the black vest … There are some reference points throughout his career, with all the transformations that he went through that still come back all the time.”

Though they would not work for a long time after, they stayed in touch because Klinko worked so often with Iman. He remembers when Bowie suffered a heart attack on stage in 2004 and needed emergency surgery. Bowie would then enter a decade-long phase away from the limelight. Like many others, Klinko thought Bowie had simply quietly retired after the health scare, though the photographer never stopped trying to get him involved with his shoots with Iman. “That’s exactly what I thought,” Klinko confirms, “that he’s not going to do anything, and I did ask Iman several times, ‘Hey, why don’t we do a shoot with you and David, and she said, ‘No, no.’”

But, one day, in the spring of 2013, Klinko was surprised to receive a call from Bowie to ask him to direct a music video for one of the songs off of his recently released album The Next Day. It was Bowie’s first album in 10 years,339413_10_ko1noisewhich had been recorded in secrecy, and it was an album that I declared in a Miami New Times review as Bowie’s great reboot. Indeed, says Klinko, when he spoke to Bowie after the album’s release, the pop star sounded rejuvenated and surprised by the album’s success. “It was obvious in his voice that he was absolutely shocked by the commercial success of that album,” says Klinko. “It made number one on a bunch of charts in the U.K. — not in the U.S. chart — but it did well in the U.S. chart, and he was very, very excited about that.”

It seems, according to Klinko, Bowie had doubts of his relevance in the world of popular music. “He would have never expected it because that was another conversation I also remember having,” Klinko continues. “Back in the time of the Heathen album shoot, I had asked him if he was going to do a video and he said, ‘Why should I? MTV won’t play it.’ And I said, ‘What are you talking about? You’re David Bowie.’ He said, ‘They’re not gonna play it. They’re not gonna play it. Maybe they’ll play it one time at 2 a.m. I’m not gonna do it.’ And, you know, I wasn’t at that time interested in directing videos, so I didn’t make much of it, but I remember him saying it in conversation, that MTV won’t play it, and so 12 years later, when he called, and he asked me to direct the video, I felt an almost child-like enthusiasm in his voice that ‘Oh, my God, it’s a huge success. I’m actually going to do this next video now,’ and he had already done [three] other ones.”

During the release of Heathen, music videos were not seeing routine release on YouTube and MTV became more obsessed with reality shows than playing music videos. But, in 2013, the music video world had become something else, easing into spaces on the Internet via artists, record labels and even fan produced works. On Bowie’s birthday, 339413_7ko1noisein 2013, he released a lyric video for “Where Are We Now” (David Bowie returns to music with new song on his 66th birthday). A month later, he released a second video, co-starring Tilda Swinton, for “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” (Finally, David Bowie and Tilda Swinton join forces: Watch DB’s new video). Then, after the album’s release in March, Bowie released a video for the title track where the singer played a Christ-like figure. Klinko worked with Bowie on the album’s final single, “Valentine’s Day.” By then, Bowie was on a roll, and Klinko cannot help but compare The Next Day Bowie to the Bowie he met during Heathen. “When he said, ‘MTV won’t play it,’ it was definitely with some kind of disappointment,” he says. “He was definitely feeling that the genre of music that he wanted to do did not get the support of this type of mainstream channels, and it was something that he was trying to deal with at the time.”

After not having heard from Bowie for a few years besides casual conversations with Iman, in the spring of 2013, Klinko received the phone call from Bowie’s manager that the singer wanted to do something him. “I was actually in L.A. at the gym, and his longtime manager Elaine called me and said, ‘David wants to speak to you right away. Can you talk to him?’ And I remember stepping out of the gym, running home to get his call, and he had this idea for this video.”

In the video for “Valentine’s Day” that we know, which was also co-directed by Indrani, Bowie inhabits an abandoned building, posing rather menacingly at times with a small guitar that he sometimes handles as if it were a rifle. But it would have been something quite different had Bowie had his way. “He wanted to reverse age, like in that Brad Pitt movie [The Curious Case of Benjamin Button]. He basically wanted to start out as an old man, like 80, and reverse in special effects and be like 19 at the end of the video.”

It wasn’t a concept entirely new for a later-period Bowie music video. The 1997 music video “Little Wonder” featured a young visage of Ziggy Stardust and Bowie had a young doppelgänger in the 1999 video for “Thursday’s Child.” It was also an idea Klinko, however, did not feel too keen about. Having already worked collaboratively with Bowie for the Heathen photo shoot, the photographer had no trouble disagreeing with Bowie, though it wasn’t necessarily an easy task to sway him away from the idea. “It was kind of tough to talk him out of it,” admits Klinko. “He really wanted it that way. We cast a young version of him, a lookalike, a model that was really talented that was used for some of the shots, like the scene from the back, when he’s looking through the window. That’s actually his younger body double. We decided not to do that with him. I felt it was a little cheesy to do it … It was the only time I ever really talked him out of something. Many of the other ideas for the record packaging and all that, a lot of it was his ideas.”

What finally changed Bowie’s mind, says Klinko, was the photographer’s stark concept for the music video. “He fell in love with the simplicity because the ‘Valentine’s Day’ was shot right after this very crazy  that he did withbabywlkbook being Jesus Christ, the priest … It was really a lot, very intense, very theatrical, so coming out with a video that was very simple, basically an animated portrait performance.”

But it was also more than that. The song is about a mass shooting and the video contains subtle references to guns. Klinko says of the song, “He did that about the time where the school shootings were very intense, around 2013. I mean, they still are, for the last few years in America. We thought about that, and so he made the song about that.”

The references are indeed quite subtle. In one instance, Bowie strikes a pose holding the guitar overhead in imitation of a famous photo of Charlton Heston holding a rifle similarly during an address to the NRA. In another, Klinko inserted a bullet that most viewers might miss. “There’s a close up of the vibrating guitar strings, very close, and out of the coiled guitar string you see a flying bullet. It’s almost subliminal because it’s so fast. Most people won’t realize it, but it’s there.” Cue the video above to the 2:28 mark to see it.

“With the tiny little hint of the gunshot,” continues Klinko, “I’m happy you picked up on that because it was a very subtle thing that was very important for me to have in there … I wanted to do more gun references and shadows of guns and things like that. There’s a little bit of that, like a machine gun shadow at some point.”

Klinko and I also spoke about how he met Bowie, his experience listening to a rough mix of Heathen and shooting and conceptualizing the artwork with Bowie. Jump through the logo below for the Miami New Times Arts and Culture blog to read all about that:

NT Arts

The photos will be on display for the public at Markowicz Fine Art in Miami’s Design District from Feb. 26 though mid-March. It begins with a private Media & VIP Reveal Party on Thursday, Feb. 25, from 7-9 p.m.

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2016 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

EMI/Capitol has begun sending out advance review copies of the upcoming 3-CD special edition reissue of David Bowie’s 1976 masterpiece Station to Station. One of the best parts about this promo-only edition, as pictured above, is the inclusion of a DVD audio disc. This DVD is indeed the one slated for exclusive release with the limited deluxe edition, which will also include the vinyl version of the album, among other exclusive extras.

As posted earlier, there are two different versions of the reissues slated for release. The 3-CD version has the album plus the famously bootlegged Nassau Coliseum show from 1976 spread across the other two CDs. The limited edition deluxe version, has the same CDs plus vinyl versions and an extra CD of single edits of five cuts from the album, and of course there are four different mixes of the album in DVD audio format.

Now, to address the elephant in the room: why isn’t EMI officially including this DVD-A with the CD-only version? As much as I love the idea that vinyl is making a comeback among audiophiles, the fact of the matter is most music listeners have easier access to a DVD player with a surround system than a record player. The most recent reissue EMI released for Bowie was 1975’s Young Americans, in 2007.  That included a DVD that not only included videos of the era but also a 5.1 mix of the album. Anyone prepared to buy a 3-CD version of Station to Station that will include a concert famous only among the most hardcore of Bowie fans will also most likely be interested in a DVD audio version of the album (I’ve already heard as much across message boards from fans*).

The release of the advance including this DVD will only add fuel to the fervor of fans clamoring for such a release. And let me, say, as I have had a chance to review, the DVD-A of this album sounds amazing. Included are a total of four varied mixes (which counters the DVD-A details in the original EMI press release published in an earlier post from July 9, which only noted 3 mixes). Here are the four mixes offered:

1. The original analogue master in 48/24 LPCM stereo.

Then there are three versions of the “New Harry Maslin Mix”:

2. 5.1 surround sound DTS 96/24

3. 5.1 AC3 surround sound D0lby48/24

4. LPCM stereo 48/24 (it’s typoed on the main menu of the DVD as LCPM– hopefully that will be fixed by the time of the official release)

I’m not sure if my dated Yamaha amp can properly decode all these varied audio streams, but the real standout is the DTS 5.1 96/24 mix re-envisioned by Harry Maslin, who produced the original album with Bowie. If you want to hear the album up-dated for 5.1 surround with an amazing separation of the varied tracks (down to Roy Bittan pushing the keys on the piano opening “Word on the Wing”), the DTS track is remarkable. You can hear every subtlety in Bowie’s voice. It makes you wonder if modern pop artists can truly measure up to the musicianship as revealed by this uncompromising audio mix. The detail of the mix could never forgive any lack of musicianship as exhibited here, laid bare without the contemporary studio trickery so many pop acts rely upon in this day and age.

There is a subtle difference between the original analogue master in 48/24 LPCM stereo versus the original RCA vinyl LP, which I own, but I still side with my vinyl. It has more punch and is still miraculously clean enough to have undetectable surface noise. I’m not sure how it compares with the original RCA analogue CD, however, because I sadly got rid of that CD years ago, as confessed in my posting on July 2.

The two other re-envisioned Maslin mixes seem for the true purists. The last mix especially is actually more akin to the original RCA vinyl than the first mix. Side by side, the two are really hard to distinguish. Otherwise, the quality in differences do not stand out to me on my system. Maybe someone with more experience in audiophilia can offer more insight.

Now, the next big headline to be revealed in hearing this new version of Station to Station, is the Nassau Coliseum show. Most curious is how the Dennis Davis drum solo has been edited down. Let me see, I do not miss the 13 minute, plus version. In this shortened version, the runs are reduced to a minimum and the out-of-place scat singing is completely gone. Supposedly the complete track will be made available via digital download, but I always thought it slowed down the pace of the bootleg, and I don’t miss it. The only thing that sucks for a Bowie fan so familiar with the original bootleg is that you cannot help but notice where it was chopped away, so, either way, it still takes you out of the concert. Besides, this does not mark the first time a lengthy live solo was chopped up for a live Bowie album. For the soundtrack of Ziggy Stardust the Motion Picture, Mick R0nson’s solo on “Width of a Circle” was also pared back while Bowie went backstage for a costume change.

As for the sound quality of the concert, with the quiet opening of “Station to Station,” I could not help but notice some tape hiss at the start of the concert. Granted, this was a show never intended for official release and, as such, never recorded with that in mind, but why boost the volume on it so loud it takes away the future dynamics of the show? Still, it is great having live versions of songs like “Waiting for the Man” and “Stay” in better quality than ever on an official live release. It’s a high energy show and one of the greatest Bowie performed in his live recorded history. Now, I’m looking forward to hearing how the vinyl version sounds.

*Teenage Wildlife Bowie fansite thread
David Bowie Illustrated Discography thread
DVD Talk thread

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