27 July 2017

You sold me illusions for a sack full of cheques

This week I've relished listening to Cracked Actor, a rediscovered snapshot of David Bowie's legendary 1974 US tour that started out all apocalyptic and Diamond Dogs-y and took a sharp left turn to become the Soul / Philly Dogs Tour. Whereas the contemporary live album David Live was from the first part of the tour and due to lousy recording process sounded dreadful, the newly released 2016 remaster of a single September 1974 LA gig from the second part of the tour is simply fantastic, capturing the emaciated, hyperactive Bowie at a creative peak. And the new band, hastily cobbled together from New York session experts, is a stunning unit: Earl Slick & Carlos Alomar, Mike Garson, David Sanborn, and the great black backing singers including the just-starting-out Luther Vandross. Highlights of the set include a mad, bossanova Suffragette City and the extended funk-soul workout of John, I'm Only Dancing (Again) that is radically different to the taut glam strut of the 1972 and '73 originals.

The rare footage below doesn't have the touched-up audio of the new release but illustrates Bowie's stagecraft theatrics perfectly.

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