Comprehensiveness isn't always a virtue, as this three-CD set proves. It gathers together everything David Bowie recorded for the BBC between the years referenced in its title, plus a third disc taken from a June 2000 Lond... more »on concert for the famed British radio broadcasting company. Head first to disc two, which focuses on Bowie's in-studio recreations of material from Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, and marvel at the glam-rockabilly heat generated by Bowie's Spiders from Mars band. By comparison, the other two discs are a disappointment. The first reveals a musical chameleon uncomfortably changing his spots, from music-hall entertainer to free-festival folkie to sub-Dylan sage. The third and final disc betrays a different problem. By 2000, Bowie had calcified into a very slick entertainer. His performances here, particularly of later material such as "I'm Afraid of Americans" and "This Is Not America," are technically fine but a little bloodless--disappointingly human instead of wonderfully alien. --Keith Moerer« less
Comprehensiveness isn't always a virtue, as this three-CD set proves. It gathers together everything David Bowie recorded for the BBC between the years referenced in its title, plus a third disc taken from a June 2000 London concert for the famed British radio broadcasting company. Head first to disc two, which focuses on Bowie's in-studio recreations of material from Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, and marvel at the glam-rockabilly heat generated by Bowie's Spiders from Mars band. By comparison, the other two discs are a disappointment. The first reveals a musical chameleon uncomfortably changing his spots, from music-hall entertainer to free-festival folkie to sub-Dylan sage. The third and final disc betrays a different problem. By 2000, Bowie had calcified into a very slick entertainer. His performances here, particularly of later material such as "I'm Afraid of Americans" and "This Is Not America," are technically fine but a little bloodless--disappointingly human instead of wonderfully alien. --Keith Moerer
Bowie at his erratic best - a tour through three decades
Vincent Toolan | London United Kingdom | 09/26/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like so much about Bowie, this compilation is intriguing but defies easy classification. This three disk set includes recordings made as early as 1968, and as recently as June 2000. The first two disks feature songs from his very earliest faltering steps into songwriting through his early successes; the third disk is a concert recorded immediately after the well received show at the Glastonbury festival in summer 2000.Each era has its own appeal. True fans (at least, true British fans who've listened to the BBC in the past three decades) will be familiar with the folksy acoustic sound and lyrics, replete with Cockney accent, of recordings of songs such as "Karma Man" and "Janine" on the early disks. They reflect a plethora of influences - Dylan, the Beatles, Jacques Brel, who knows what else. Some of the material is only of historical interest; and some of it is really strong - notably "Let me sleep beside you", which would fit comfortably on the recent album "Hours...". The recordings sound as you'd expect them to - polished jam sessions - interspersed with annoying dialog from various BBC hosts ("... my mum thinks this one's dirty"). And "Kooks", dedicated to the then newborn Bowie junior, is charming.Still more appealing, though, is the third disk - a vibrant mix of songs spanning 30 years. It opens with a brilliant rendition of "Wild is the Wind" , on which Bowie's vocals come closer to the 1976 studio recording than they ever have done before. Onwards through crowd pleasers such as the Lennon joint venture "Fame" and Nirvana-influencing "Man Who Sold the World" (of which Bowie justifiably admits to being very proud), and - best of all - great rarities such as the Pat Metheny collaboration "This is not America". The eighties weren't a complete waste of time, then!One or two of the very recent tracks do inevitably stand out as less than inspired songwriting. Still, the band, which includes long-time collaborators MikeGarson and Earl Slick, treats every song like a long-lost family member: with respect and love, getting the sound astonishingly close to the studio originals.Only a performer of Bowie's stature and confidence could release this eclectic a compilation. It's not the ideal introduction for the new fan (I'd rather recommend one of the singles compilations). But anyone who wants proof of how a performer can mature, grow in stature, and not become dull, should make this the centerpiece of his year 2000 collection."
The REAL Kicker is limited edition bonus track
O. Buxton | Highgate, UK | 10/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The '68 - '72 sessions (discs 1 and 2): The first disc kicks off with a set canvassing the silly portfolio D. Jones Esq. dished up before he went down to the crossroads - or what ever it was he did - and transformed himself from silly Anthony Newley rip-off to Global Phenomenon and Curious Living Work of Art that we all know, love and are periodically bamboozled by. Fundamentally, the "Jones" material is lousy - don't let revisionists convince you otherwise - but oddly is produced and delivered here with a lot more flourish (look mum! a string section!) than the famous material which follows it.Of the famous stuff, there is a disappointing inverse relationship between the quality of raw material and its presentation on this particular record. The Ziggy Stardust cuts sound horrible - shrill, poorly executed and mixed badly, paling in comparison with the album versions. By and large, there are better versions of all songs to be found elsewhere: Amsterdam, for example, can't hold a match, let alone a candle to the stunning B-side to Sorrow which appeared a couple of years later (available as a bonus track on the (now deleted) Rykodisc presing of Pin Ups), and while the acoustic take of the Supermen beats the album version, there is a better demo of this arrangement available (also on Rykodisc). There are a couple of pretty tough VU covers here, though.To cut a long story short - this double is great for completists, and Bowieheads like me will find much of fascination, but if you're a beginner, go buy The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust (preferably on Rykodisc if you can find them) and come back to this in six months when it's in the bargain bins if you still aren't satisfied.At the Radio Theatre, 27 June 2000 (disc 3)If this July 2000 live album were released by itself, it would be worth ten stars. It is staggering, and will please young and old alike. To my immense excitement it undermines a truism about David Bowie: viz., he is disappointing live. He has always tended to shout, and has frequently made dreadful mistakes in personnel - Peter Frampton, Thomas Dolby, for very good example - and has emphasised visual over aural impact. Er, remember Glass Spider? No? Good. But the news is all good here - he's in fantastic voice throughout and by no means pulls his punches - kicking off the set with Wild is the Wind, for example, is not for the faint of larynx, but it sounds magnificent, and it sets the tone for the remainder of the set. The band is first rate: Station to Station (and, er, Serious Moonlight)-era guitarist Earl Slick, the pianist who MADE Aladdin Sane what it was, Mike Garson, together with a band which has everything but cold fire (ahem).And the choice and arrangement of songs will delight all. Yes, he does Fame, Ashes to Ashes and Let's Dance for the top 40 punters, but check this out - Always Crashing In The Same Car? Hallo Spaceboy? Stay? Cracked Actor? WOW! Wheeling out such hidden gems sure warm the cockles of this old Bowie-nut's heart, especially when they sound so choice. So, A good new album (...Hours) and a great live band? What ever next? The critics will be saying David Bowie's got good again... No, don't even GO there."
More essential than you might think....
Thomas D. Ryan | New York | 11/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"`Beeb' is a British affectation for the BBC, the state-run media which plans (or planned) all television and radio for Great Britain. Bowie was around when the BBC was implementing its 4-station radio broadcasting, and he became one of the first guests in early 1968. BBC rules were strange and archaic by American standards, insisting that pre-recorded music represent only a fraction of airtime, the point being that this would provide employment for professional musicians. So it was that David Bowie appeared with a crew of musicians to perform his songs live a number of times over a four-year period. I'm a very big fan of Bowie's early work (reference my review of Images 1966-1967 if you're interested), but the earliest sessions on this collection are the least fulfilling. Disk one holds interest to Bowie-philes for historic reasons, but it is disk two that presents the artist in full flight. Working with Mick Ronson, his Ziggy Stardust-era songs shine brilliantly here, in some cases rivaling the album versions. "Hang On to Yourself," "Suffragette City," and "Ziggy Stardust" all rock with authority and grace. "Queen Bitch" has more energy than the version on Hunky Dory, while the songwriting brilliance of songs like "Changes" and "Oh You Pretty Things" come through loud and clear. Most telling are the two Velvet Underground songs performed here. Both "White Light/White Heat" and "Waiting For My Man" are definitive, surpassing all Bowie versions that were previously available and perhaps even surpassing Lou Reed's original versions. For those of you who are lucky enough to find it, a limited edition of this package comes with an extra disk of Bowie performing live at the BBC radio theatre in June of 2000. Search it out! The extra disk is extraordinary, featuring some of the best live Bowie ever recorded. The band is phenomenal, playing each song to perfection without sacrificing any energy. This version of "Stay" blew me away, forcing me to recognize the sheer funky power of this band. Just as mind-boggling are the versions of "Fame" (a new, `improved' version!), "Absolute Beginners" and "Man Who Sold the World". Every track on this extra disk is exceptional, making it an absolute must for even casual fans of David Bowie. A- Tom Ryan"
WHam, Bam, thank you BOWIE!
Matthew Turner | Singapore | 10/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An incredible set! Get it! All the tracks on the first two discs are a fascinating glimps into the evolution of that spaced out glam man that Bowie became. The early folk influences really shine on God Knows I'm Good, and Janine. They are wonderfully sung...and his voice! Damn good...who in rock can rival his high end vibrato? It is beautiful. The versions from Hunky Dory and Ziggy are incredible...enough of a difference from the studio discs to make this very worth while. And the bonus live CD is wonderful. I have read a few reviews that pan it as a come down when compared to his earlier material...boy did they miss the boat! Did they even listen to the disc! IT IS AMAZING to hear Bowie in his 50's still belting relevant rock that has an edge to it. And it is great hearing some very rare gems done live, especially Always Crashing in the Same Car, which is totally revamped and very spacy. I wondered though, where was Gabreil Reeves, his usual guitart sidekick, but don't get me wrong, Earl Slick is great...and a Bowie veteran and very attuned to the Thin White Duke's stage work. All in all an extremely rewarding ear orgy."
Gsorme | Seattle, WA USA | 03/15/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Fine set of "historical" Bowie, with the added bonus of the live CD from 6/2000. Some people complain about this latter disc because it sounds "polished", but I was simply stunned by the quality of the mix and the flow of the music. Two of the songs here (Survive and Seven) sound better to me live than they do on Hours... - more fluid and rich. And a nice broad range of old and new in this live mix. (Odd guitar line on "Americans", though...)As for the two BBC discs - yes, they're primarily for fans (of which there are a lot out there). But they are terrific renditions of familiar songs that are fun to turn to, especially if you've heard the originals countless times already. There's a rawness to them that breathes new life into them. I'm not as much of a fan of the earliest Bowie work, but it's still interesting to hear.If you're a Bowie fan, I recommend this highly, and furthermore suggest you grab it while you can still get the "bonus" third disc. This is what grabbed me first in the set, so it hardly has the feel of an offhand bonus and is worthwhile in itself. At least in my humble opinion."