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Thin White Duke/White Heat: Amazing unseen footage of David Bowie live in 1976
07.01.2016
12:24 pm
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Thin White Duke/White Heat: Amazing unseen footage of David Bowie live in 1976


 
Just in time for the long holiday weekend…

This was put together by a dedicated Bowie fanatic who goes by the nom de YoutubeNacho Video.” He saw one minute of this footage—originally shot Philippe Bergeron 40 years ago—posted on YouTube the day that David Bowie died and contacted him.

Around that time I had been scouring the web, for material to flesh out my “TVC-15” video. There is virtually no decent footage available from the ’76 tour. According to legend, a French TV station shot five songs at the final Paris show. A few minutes of that footage was shown on French TV, and featured fragments of three songs. And those fragments make up most of my “TVC-15” video. According to the same legend, unfortunately, the reels of the five songs were misplaced when the TV station moved their archive, and they remain lost.

Philippe’s one minute of footage was only Super 8, but it was very well shot, and unlike anything I’d seen before. So I immediately contacted him, basically asking, “Is there more than 60 seconds, and can I have it please?” Eventually, we talked on the phone a bit, and Philippe agreed to let me have his footage for my use.

What came exceeded all expectations. It was beautiful material - close ups, long shots, pans and zooms and, unusually, plenty of band shots, from at least 5 totally different locations in the venue. The footage astonished me, I could hardly believe what I was seeing. However, it was silent, and moreover, there was no complete song, or even lengthy take. Just very short scenes, mostly less than 10 seconds, sometimes only 2 or 3 seconds, filmed throughout the entire show.

The detective work began to ascertain what songs were being performed to decide out what the best use of the footage would be. Breaking the reel down into its separate components meant I then had well over 50 mini scenes. Anyway, to cut a very long story short, among the other songs I did eventually identify, there was – crucially - several verifiable fragments of “Station To Station.” Although these “Station To Station” fragments only totaled less than a minute, an idea began to predominate: to re-purpose the entire footage, use every scene, avoid dipping into any other source, and synch it to the Nassau live version, and try to create the video that we have here.

I managed to use almost every second of Philippe’s footage. Where I have used a verified “Station To Station” scene, in its correct place, I have left it naked. In other places, the long cross fades, the superimposing, and other effects are devices to distract us from noticing that Bowie is not in fact singing the correct line, or indeed even the correct song. So, with that in mind, it would perhaps be best if you don’t pay too close attention to Bowie’s lips and the players hands!

I don’t know how many millions of digital manipulations I’ve made to produce this thing, but certainly more could be done to improve it. There are some compromises in this video that I am not content with, but after in excess of 200 hours of obsessive and often frustrating work, including stretches of profound desperation when there were many minutes of blank void to fill, and no material or imagination to fill them, I’ve decided that this will have to do.

Before the band took the stage during David Bowie’s “Isolar” tour in 1976, there was a pre-show screening—the opening act, so to speak—of Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel’s silent surrealist masterpiece Un Chien Andalou. If you’ve ever seen the film, you can only imagine how audiences comprised of stoned 70s concertgoers must’ve reacted to the eyeball and razor scene. At the beginning of this, you can hear one of the songs Buñuel added to the film in 1960,  “Tango Argentino” by the Vicente Alvarez & Carlos Otero et son orchestre.
 

 
Thank you Spencer Kansa, author of Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron for sending me this!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.01.2016
12:24 pm
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