David Bowie 1979-05-20 On Star Special BBC Radio One – Disc 1 and 2 (Master by Mike Jewell)
Sound Quality Rating
David Bowie on Star Special BBC Radio One
“Hello This is David Bowie. It’s a bit grey out today but I’ve got some Perrier water, and a bunch of records… erm, I think if I was walking outside at the moment I would like to be walking on this street… it’s ‘Love Street’ by ‘The Doors’.”
01. Plays The Doors: ‘Love Street’.
“A commanding performer, I remember seeing him once at… erm… I think it was the Roundhouse, when they came to London the first time… I believe I’m right… somebody else that erm… I think is working at the Roundhouse over the next few weeks… a buddy of mine, Iggy Pop, this is just something I remember with affection because it’s when I was with him on tour playing piano for him this one’s called ‘TV Eye’.”
02. Plays Iggy Pop: ‘TV Eye’.
“Also on piano is a gentleman… I think, a really despondent track… erm… he’d left his band, and he was doing his first solo album.. I found it rivetingly depressing, I really enjoyed playing it to myself, it’s called ‘Remember’ by John Lennon… very good piano, I think it’s Billy Preston actually.”
03. Plays John Lennon: ‘Remember’.
(chuckle)… “Right… let’s play ‘Love Street’ again ha ha no ha ha growing up and being angry, that’s what this one is all about erm ’96 Tears by Question Mark and The Mysterions which nobody has in their record collections ha ha… yes, they’ve actually got it here… good old Beeb.”
04. Plays ? and The Mysterions: ’96 Tears’.
“That’s an extraordinary piece of music… umm… there was another incredible one by 13th Floor Elevators… I can’t remember that one very well… around the same period I think… I guess some Punk freak will correct me on that one… erm… this is a Punk that I sorta grew… I was incredibly impressed by this one when I first heard it it was a real use of music in describing a situation musically… erm… and it’s also nice and short, but it’s classical music. It’s very good… it’s des… well you see what it describes… it’s by Elgar.”
05. Plays Elgar: ‘Nursery Suite’ (extract).
“It was in fact a wagon… I expect you guessed, didn’t you? Ha. It was from the Nursery suite, oh and here’s another nursery song… erm, this one’s interesting because I thought it was a extraordinary thing to use numbers as backing vocals, I really liked that idea and I just heard it again but here’s the first one I heard, it’s ‘Inchworm’ by Danny Kaye.”
06. Plays Danny Kaye: ‘Inchworm’.
“Okay so that’s one use of numbers, but if you want to get very modern there’s a chappie called Philip Glass… listen how he uses numbers… I think probably his music could point to a particular direction that music may be… oh some aspects of music maybe going at the moment… this is from an Opera that he wrote which is about erm fifteen and a half years long and they put some selections out from this album called ‘Einstein On The Beach’ and this particular piece is called Trial – Prison and there is a lovely little narration in it by a one of the singers… it’ll be on the left hand side of the speaker if you’ve got stereo, on the right hand side if you’ve got ’em plugged in the wrong way round.”
07. Plays Philip Glass: ‘Trial Prison’.
“First single that I heard when I first went to America, on the first day that I got there was in New York and I was taken over to a writers apartment that he had in probably on 8th Avenue somewhere and he played me a new album that had just come out and he was very excited about this track and so was I.”
08. Plays Velvet Underground: ‘Sweet Jane’.
“From the sublime to the ridiculous Brian Eno put together a compilation album of four new bands from America, one of them called ‘Mars’ I’m not particularly fond of much of the album but this one piece of music bowled me over, I think it’s superb, it’s called Helen Fordsdale.”
09. Plays Mars: ‘Helen Fordsdale’.
“How about that lot, it reminds me of ah I think its Minnie from the Goon Show, doesn’t it you?? Helen Fordsdale (done in Goons accent). Ha ha it’s the most eccentric voice I’ve heard in years, it’s incredible erm oh oh this is quite absurd as well… guess who this is?? erm this is called ‘He’s A Star’… I think I got the title right… I couldn’t believe this when I first heard it.”
10. Plays Little Richard: ‘He’s My Star’.
“That was Little Richard… That’s a far cry isn’t it? He had this strange thing where he threw all his rings and everything away and became a preacher for a little bit and this was an outcome of that when he started doing gospel music and church music but how he changed his voice like that I must have given up something else I think erm… this is er… if you fancy yourself as a schizophrenic I think this becomes ya theme song I used to love this one… 21st Century Schizoid Man by young Robert Fripp’s very exciting band King Crimson.”
11. Plays King Crimson: ’21st Century Schizoid Man’.
“Here’s a band I admire very much, some very charming people, David Byrne in particular we’re talking about ‘Talking Heads’ of course um, here’s a track from, I think it was their last album ‘More Songs About Buildings And Food’ I found this very impressive it took me back actually to the early days of The Yardbirds I don’t know why it’s called ‘Warning Sign’.”
12. Plays Talking Heads: ‘Warning Sign’.
“Yardbirds of course leads in very beautifully to Jeff Beck… this was a piece of music he wrote and I think they must have done it in about four and a half minutes because it really sounds like it was thrown together, but like all classics it just it still shoots out of the speakers, it’s called Becks Bolero.”
13. Plays Jeff Beck: ‘Becks Bolero’.
“Here’s a song that made me fall in love with the singer, absolutely incredible… my heart went straight out to her and it was produced by Phil Spector. I maybe wrong but I think it’s the last single he ever made because he was so depressed that it didn’t do anything, that nobody bought it erm which is quite ironic really ‘cos the title was ‘Try Some, Buy Some’ by his ex wife Ronnie Spector.”
14. Plays Ronnie Spector: ‘Try Some, Buy Some’.
“Here’s a guy that probably did as much for the early 70, sound in England as did Spector for the 60’s sound in America erm single handedly changed an awful lot of what was happening soundwise in England its my old buddy Marc Bolan and 20th Century Boy, which he always will be.”
15. Plays T-Rex: ’20th Century Boy’.
“Okay here’s some guys that followed in the tradition of what young Marc was going down I s’pose… they’re called ‘The Mekons’ I hope they gig a lot they deserve to with this track it’s called ‘Where Were You’… has a beautiful sort of Velvet Underground top guitar over it.”
16. Plays The Mekons: ‘Where Were You’.
“There’s a new singer… I don’t know if he’s a new singer. He’s probably as… dad’s heard him for years but I mean… he’s new to me anyway, his name’s Steve Forbert, and this is a track from his new album, I like it particularly ‘cos one of my old band is on it, Dave Sanborn is playing saxophone on it, it’s called ‘Big City Cat’.”
17. Plays Steve Forbert: ‘Big City Cat’.
(hums the outro to ‘Big City Cat’) ” Running out of things to play you… oh no, I tell ya what… this is another kind of love song also by ‘The Stones’… erm this one’s called ‘We Love You’… I’m sure they mean it!!
18. Plays The Rolling Stones: ‘We Love You’.
“Another very deserving band… this one… I think this also caught everybody’s imagination, especially if you liked Humphrey Bogart it was called ‘2HB’… very clever pun isn’t it? Isn’t that a clever pun? and it’s by Roxy Music.”
19. Plays Roxy Music: ‘2HB’.
“You see ha! If you’re an artist ha! 2HB is a pencil you see, 2HB!! D’ya get it?!! HB means Humphrey Bogart… That’s a pun!! ’tis… that’s a pun!!!… Roxy Music thought that up!! Erm… here’s a great writer… um… I don’t like very much what he’s doing now… I loved this album when it came out, it was on Asbury Park… erm Bruce Springsteen and after I heard this track I never rode the subway again… it’s called ‘Saint In The City’.”
20. Plays Bruce Springsteen: ‘Saint In The City’.
“That really scared the living ones out of me that… here’s one that also scared me ‘cos it was so incredibly adventurous at the time when it was released erm… it’s by Stevie Wonder and it’s a startling piece called ‘Fingertips’.”
21. Plays Stevie Wonder: ‘Fingertips’.
“Let’s bring back the good weather again… let’s try very hard anyway… erm… now what can we do that with.. I think we can probably do it… let’s leave it to Blondie… a little up-tempo thing called ‘Rip Her To Shreds’.”
22. Plays Blondie: ‘Rip Her To Shreds’.
“How about that then?… lovely little Debbie … it’s gotta good hook… as Kierkegaard used to say ha ha!! ‘Has it got a good hook’… sad that one… really quite sad… I’m sorry that so many of these are quite sad.. it must say something about… aah it’s the weather you know, it’s the weather… either that or it’s these shoes… really hurt… aa erm me toes hurt inbetween… I… er… got these strange sort of Japanese sandals on… and er… they hurt your toes in there… anyway, it’s not hurting the music… it doesn’t worry you does it?? Does it worry you?? Okay. This one’s called ‘Beautiful Loser’ and it’s by Bob Seger.”
23. Plays Bob Seger: ‘Beautiful Loser’.
“Now I’m not sure about that one erm… I think… I think it’s quite nice… I only played it ‘cos its got the word ‘Lodger’ in it and that’s my new album title… erm but you don’t have to worry ’bout that, that’s just an ego problem… erm here’s a track from my album and it’s called ‘Boys’”.
24. Plays David Bowie: ‘Boys Keep Swinging’.
“Now that song really does have a problem… ha ha!! It really does have a problem um well whilst we’re still on the same subject here’s one that I wrote… I started writing this thing in Berlin… erm and I ended up finishing this thing in New York… it’s gotta sorta Turkish quality to it..erm… I find it quite hypnotic, I think it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album, it’s called ‘Yassassin’.”
25. Plays David Bowie: ‘Yassassin’.
“Yassassin, if it’s of any interest to you means ‘long life’ in Turkish. I didn’t know that, I had to phone up the Turkish Embassy and find out what it meant, I read it on a wall… I read most things on a wall… I read Kierkegaard on a wall… Ha!!… He speaks highly of me as well… ha ha ha ha!!! Erm… oh well as we’re talking about books and things, here’s ‘The Book I Read’ by Talking Heads.”
26. Plays Talking Heads: ‘The Book I Read’.
“That’s Talking Heads… see they’re different to me, I mean they actually go and read the books… they’ve never read any walls… I’ve read them on a wall though… next to Kierkegaard… erm… here’s a smashing Roxy Music track called ‘For Your Pleasure’… and I love the ‘ta-ra’ at the end… it’s a beautiful gesture.”
27. Plays Roxy Music: ‘For Your Pleasure’.
“I saw them in concert the other week in New York, it was very good… any of you see it??… the new show… I… I’m quite pleased they reformed. Their bass player is very good, awfully good bass player… he jumps very well… they got a good jumping bass player ya know, Roxy Music… excellent… one of the best little jumpers I’ve seen… this is erm… this is a mess… no… this is erm a track by King Curtis who is a fine musician, I hope you enjoy it, it’s called ‘Something On Your Mind’.”
28. Plays King Curtis: ‘Something On Your Mind’.
“And here are three girls who’ve got a very musical dad… and er one of the girls is very sexy and I keep playing her records over and over again when I’m on my own… erm it’s The Staple Singers and it’s called ‘Lies’.”
29. Plays Staple Singers: ‘Lies’.
“Now she breathes very well doesn’t she?” (Bowie sings) Lies… I mean the Roxy Music guy jumps better, but she can really breathe… she does a good breathe… well I’m afraid I can’t find anymore to play so erm… I’m going to erm… I brought three of these records along myself by the way… erm I’ll tell you which ones I brought along ‘cos I knew they wouldn’t have them here… it’s not their fault… shops were closed… erm… I bought ‘The Mekons – Where Were You’… that’s mine… ‘Philip Glass – Einstein On The Beach’… that’s mine as well… and erm the No New York album with the wonderful ‘Mars’ track… that’s mine as well… thought I’d let you know that I’m going out to write my name on a wall now… …maybe I’ll meet you at the wall Ha! Ha! Backs to the walls chaps!!… ok… ta-ra…”
[Outro music begins – ‘Speed Of Life’ from ‘Low’]