David Bowie 1974-09-05 Los Angeles, Universal Amphitheatre – Big Brother –
Sound Quality Rating
01 Knock On Wood.flac
02 It’s Gonna Be Me.flac
03 Space Oddity.flac
04 Diamond Dogs.flac
05 Big Brother.flac
07 The Jean Genie.flac
08 Rock n Roll Suicide.flac
09 John I’m Only Dancing.flac
Label: OIL WELL RSC CD 057
Audio Source: SOUNDBOARD
Total running time: 0:53:07
Sound Quality : very good. Equals record or radio apart from a slight noise and some dullness.
NOTE: Same as the CD Live in Los Angeles 1974 Part Two
Glamorously jamming in the ‘rock room’ today is a purported first generation soundboard recording of David Bowie and band from the 1974 ‘Diamond Dogs’ tour. Hailing from Los Angeles this recording finds Bowie in his decadent post ‘Ziggy”‘ persona, and still performing amazingly visual and musical concerts. I find this era of Bowie to be peak, its intensity along the lines of the ‘Spiders from Mars’ shows, yet different in its theatrics as well as the musical dynamics and expressions. The band for this tour had been expanded and left behind Mick Ronson and the ‘Spiders’ from previous years. The ‘Mike Garson’ band was picked as the road musicians featuring background singers, a horn section with Davis Sanborn, and capable and creative guitarists Earl Slick and Carlos Alomar. This era found David at his most fragile, thin, and pale yet still creating another persona and theatrical stage face in which to disseminate his craft.
The group then screams bombastically into Bowie’s fantastically funkified version of “Knock On Wood“. While retaining the original melody, Bowie’s arrangement leans forward and places heavy steps, placing emphasis on all the right changes. He makes the song his own through his dynamic and hard hitting arrangement.
The show then slows for a soulful rendition of ‘It’s Gonna Be Me‘ savored til the last drop and dynamically played with attentive filigree’s and whispered punctuations by the assembled band. A previously unreleased track from Bowie’s ‘Young American’s album, ‘It’s Gonna Be Me” is lyrically epic and musically transparent. A peak of the performance. The saxophones wail and the piano johnny apple-seed’s hearty peeling glissando’s as Bowie is reaches into thick liquid night for momentous vocal displays. A tremendous display of Bowie’s own brand of cosmic glitter R and B, spotlighting his intimate and dynamic vocals. Wow.
But wait, there’s more! Another pair of songs from ‘Diamond Dogs’ follows when ‘Big Brother‘ segues into ‘Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family’. ‘Big Brother’ spies through keyholes and from fire escapes, peering into Bowie’s window vision of brainwashing and reflection, based on George Orwell’s novel 1984. ‘Big Brother’ is a slinky macabre version the breaks into a ‘rag time’ interlude which then leads to the brief but deliciously strange and tribal ‘Skeletal Family’. Sound effects straight from the LP again blend the songs together as Bowie begins in my opinion one of his finest musical moments.
‘Time‘ begins a slight burlesque ditty, but becomes a distorted guitar epic…..classically Bowie. Bowie’s lyrics, a statement on the inevitability of time’s effect on life, death, friends and his own mind reaches all the right peaks in all the right places. Bowie glides over the tic tock piano lines with taut wordless ‘Lai Lai’s that reach into the thick stew of time passed on by. The crowd loves it, and so do I. A fine and stirring moment.
Introduced by a fat sliding barre chorded bass interlude the band crunches ‘Jean Genie‘ under their respective heeled boots with an intensity harkening back to the previous ‘Ziggy’ tour. There is an explosive middle and smoking conclusion of the tune where the ‘Mike Garson’ band discharges into a somewhat improvised but definitely incendiary breakdown that slides effortlessly back into the chorus of the song.
The finale of the show is fittingly the final song featured on the ‘Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ LP, “Rock and Roll Suicide‘. Also featured on the live LP representation of the tour ‘David Live’, this version is a grand finish and and you can feel Bowie pushing to the make the conclusion of the show a memorable one. Bowie imagined himself as a ‘chanteur’ when preforming this number, placing himself into the character of a french renaissance era composer and lyricist. Bowie always preformed best when his persona was in flux and his ‘characters’ were changing.
The concert concludes with the single 7′ release ‘John, I’m Only Dancing‘ a song often ruminated over regarding its homosexual leanings and statements. It should be of no surprise to anyone, but of course the single was never released in America until four years after the fact because of the content of the lyrics. The song swings between a R and B groove and on to a full out disco beat, years before its popularity. This song is the perfect conclusion to an expansive and well played show. ‘Dancing’ includes glimpses into Bowie’s personal preferences, a sampling of his musical head at the time, a diverse instrumentation, and a intense arrangement that leaves the crowd wanting more.
This 1974 concert finds Bowie in one his most gossiped about yet intensely creative periods of his career. After a change of band and persona, Bowie returned with a newer and bigger band, a diverse display of theatrics, and a revolutionary new LP ‘Diamond Dogs’ that created the pallet for his new direction. The official LP release ‘David Live’ is a solid representation of this tour and a nice place to start if you are not familiar with the era. I would then supplement with the numerous field recordings and bootlegs available. Bowie had fully developed into the ‘thin white duke’ at this point and his mystery and oracle drove his popularity skyward while fueling his own creativity. Listening to the concerts and recordings from this era reflect the multiple directions and radical development of Bowie as one of the finest rock and roll artists we have ever seen.