‘Memory of a Free Festival’: David Bowie’s ‘Hey Jude’?
06:15 pm


David Bowie

Illustration by Bowie’s childhood friend, George Underwood, who famously punched him, causing one of Bowie’a blue eyes to turn brown.

I recently picked up the 2009 “deluxe” 2 CD 40th anniversary set of David Bowie’s eponymous 1969 album, David Bowie (released in America as Man of Words/Man of Musicand then later as Space Oddity before reverting back to the original British title in 2009). It’s an album I know quite well and it includes some of my favorite “underdog” deep catalog cuts from Bowie’s discography, namely “Cygnet Committee,” “Janine.” “Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud” and the epic seven-minute-long number from the album “Memory of a Free Festival.”

“Memory of a Free Festival” is a ghostly-sounding evocation of what seems to be some mind-blowing Hair-like hippie celebration from long ago and far away, but the actual event it celebrates (the Beckenham Free Festival of August 16, 1969, organized by Bowie and Mary Finnigan) was only about three weeks in the rearview mirror when the song was written and recorded (and it took place in Croydon, not exactly the fairy wonderland implied by the song’s blissed-out chant)

At the request of the record label, Mercury Records, the song was re-recorded as a harder-rocking “electric” version—and split into an A and B side of a 45rpm single—by a pre-Spiders from Mars band that included Mick Ronson (his first session with Bowie), drummer Mick Woodmansey and producer Tony Visconti, who played bass.

“Memory of a Free Festival” is essentially two separate songs: the long, slow build-up, with Bowie accompanying himself on a cheap Rosedale kids organ, and then the long drawn out fade/chorus/chant: “The Sun Machine is coming down and we’re gonna have a party” a line that is repeated 27 more times.

The two songs were connected by the sound of a cymble being sturck by a mallet and then slowed and manipulated on tape. The single was a huge flop, selling but a few hundred copies, which probably shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise considering that the catchy bit doesn’t even start until around the three-minute mark, and thus the B-side.

The original version of “Memory of a Free Festival” as it appeared on the album:

The rockier “Memory of a Free Festival” single, parts 1 & 2. Dig Mick Ronson’s guitar work here, he’s on fire.

Echo-drenched, more chaotic alternative album mix with two extra minutes, clocking in at 9.22. Unrelased until 2009. Listen LOUD:

There’s also a fourth version of “Memory of a Free Festival” recorded at the BBC that was included on the Bowie at Beeb set, but it’s not on YouTube. The song has been covered by the likes of Ween, Mercury Rev, Kashmir, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Polyphonic Spree.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
A camp classic! David Bowie’s ‘Love You Till Tuesday’, 1969

Here’s something for casual Bowie fans and die hards alike. In fact, it doesn’t really matter if you are a fan or not, this is guaranteed to brighten up your autumn Monday blues.

Bowie’s pre-1970s career is rife for re-evaluation I reckon, and I think this is as good a place as any to start.

Love You Till Tuesday is a half-hour show-reel of Bowie and a couple of his compatriots performing his songs in a bare TV studio. It was recorded in 1969 at the behest of his manager Kenneth Pitt, and was due to be shown on German TV with some of the sections re-dubbed from English. Unfortunately it never aired, though it does contain the original promo clip for “Space Oddity” you may have seen, erm, floating around.

But really, none of that is too important. The thing is… it’s really fucking funny.

The film’s opening promo, to accompany the song “Love You Till Tuesday,” is like an exquisite distillation of everything that made the late 60s so kitsch.

Just look at little David flopping onto a pillow in the campest imaginable way, while boasting that he will love you for TWO WHOLE DAYS! Try not to think of Austin Powers. it’s pretty hard. There’s a big lol at 1:44, and the music itself is like something from a shitty 70s English sex-comedy, or perhaps one of those racist, unfunny sitcoms people were so fond of back then.

Sadly, David, this is much more Robin Askwith than Anthony Newley.

You don’t have to watch all of this film for the funzies, just the first 4 minutes. But if you care to watch on, there are some good tunes, including the very Kinksy “Rubber Band,” and a mid-section mime performance about a mask.

Well, it was the swinging Sixties, after all:


Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Unbelievably condescending BBC report on David Bowie’s retirement from 1973

Here’s another little jeweled sequin to add to the collection called Seventies: A BBC news report on David Bowie, as he prepares for his last public concert at the Odeon, Hammersmith, July 4th, 1973.

This is the edited version of a longer report, which was originally filmed at the Bournemouth Winter Gardens, and aired on the current affairs show Nationwide on May 25th, 1973. It is well worth watching for the unbelievably condescending and inadvertently hilarious commentary by the BBC reporter, who describes Bowie as ‘freakish’ and narrates the whole story with a growing sense of eye-brow raised horror.

Our besuited Man from Auntie then thrusts his microphone at celebratory fans and family: Lulu, Tony Curtis and Mrs Angie Bowie (who gives the best line), demanding to know what they think they’re doing. Alas, the original interview with the man himself is absent, sadly edited out of this version, but we do see him in prep for his big night, giving it laldy onstage before being whisked-off in a limo.

Great stuff. And you can compare this version with the original feature, which is available two parts, here and here.


Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
David Bowie: Live at the Beat Club from 1978

David Bowie having fun at the Beat Club in May 1978, dressed in what looks like a pimp’s pajama top and those kind of pants he made famous, which were later sold via adverts in the NME and The Face. I once nearly bought a pair but opted to have my ear pierced instead. As always, Bowie is more than ably supported by his superb backing band, which here includes Adrian Belew on electric guitar; George Murray on bass guitar; Carlos Alomar on rhythm guitar; Dennis Davis on drums; Simon House on violin; Sean Mayes on piano and strings; and Roger Powell on keyboards and synthesizers.

Track Listing:

01. “Sense of Doubt”
02. “Beauty and The Beast”
03. “Heroes”
04. “Stay”
05. “The Jean Genie”
06. “TVC15”
07. “Alabama Song”
08. “Rebel Rebel”


Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
For your viewing pleasure: David Bowie’s film debut in 1967’s ‘The Image’
06:32 pm


David Bowie
The Image
Michael Armstrong

David Bowie’s first screen role was in Michael Armstrong’s 1967 short film The Image.

In The Image Michael Byrne plays a troubled artist haunted by a ghostly young man who appears to step right out of one of his paintings. David Bowie plays the mysterious apparition who is haunting the artist and his unusual good looks and other-worldly appearance are used to great effect here. Bowie was just 20-years-old when he made his acting debut, but he had studied with the avant-garde performance artist and actor Lindsay Kemp who included elements of Mime and Butoh into his teaching. Bowie obviously made use of the skills he developed studying under Kemp for his role in The Image and his wordless performance as an unrelenting spectre is undoubtedly the most memorable element of this short film.”

The Image was shot in just three days and completed in 1967, but it didn’t have its official screen debut until 1969. Due to the violent content of the film it became one of the first shorts to receive an ‘X’ certificate from Britain’s notoriously restrictive film rating’s board.” Cinebeats.

The Image has appeared in the past on Youtube with first three minutes of the film lopped off. Here’s the film in its entirety.

Director Armstrong went on to direct one of my favorite horror films, the notorious Mark Of The Devil, which also ran afoul of the British censors.

In the following clip, Armstrong talks about working with Bowie.

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Battle of the Bang Bangs: Bowie vs. Iggy. Win, lose or draw?
01:07 pm


David Bowie
Iggy Pop
Bang Bang

Written by Iggy Pop and Ivan Kral and produced by Tommy Boyce, “Bang Bang” was in heavy rotation in dance clubs when it was released in 1981 but failed to cross-over to mainstream success at a time when Pop was under a lot of record company pressure to create some hits.

David Bowie later covered the tune on his less-than-stellar 1987 release Never Let Me Down, an album Bowie claimed “had good songs that I mistreated.”

Did Bowie mistreat “Bang Bang”? Or did he blow Iggy out of the water? Or neither?

Welcome to the battle of the “Bang Bangs.”


Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
The Thrill of It All: The Roxy Music Story

Hard to believe but it’s forty years since Roxy Music released their debut single “Virginia Plain” and made an unforgettable appearance on Top of the Pops. It was a moment that influenced a generation, the same way David Bowie had earlier the same year, when he seductively draped his arm over Mick Ronson’s shoulder as they sang “Starman” together. It was a moment of initiation, when millions of British youth had shared a seminal cultural experience by watching television.

Of all the programs on air in 1972, by far the most influential was Top of the Pops., and Roxy Music’s arrival on the show was like time travelers bringing us the future sound of music. 

Listening to “Virginia Plain” today, it hard to believe that it wasn’t record last week and has just been released.

This documentary on Roxy Music has all the band members (Ferry, Manzanera, MacKay, Eno, etc) and a who’s who of musicians (Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Jones, and Roxy biographer, Michael Bracewell), who explain the band’s importance and cultural relevance. Roxy Music have just released The Complete Studio Recordings 1972-1982 available here.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Roxy Music live in 1972, the full radio broadcast

Bonus clip of ‘Virginia Plain’, after the jump…

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
David Bowie on ‘Stage,’ 1978
12:42 pm


David Bowie

One of the best Bowie bootleg videos that’s been floating around for at least 25 years is the professionally shot recording of six numbers from his 1978 tour. I’ve read variously that this came from one of the shows recorded for the Stage album, but I’ve also seen claims that it was shot either in Dallas or in Norway. Tony Visconti, who produced Stage, mentions nothing in his liner notes for the 2005 reissue of the album about the shows he recorded also being videotaped. I’m pretty sure that this was taped at The Dallas Convention Center performance of April 10th, 1978

Wherever it was shot, and no matter the short running time, this is one of the finest live Bowie documents we’ve got and it hails from one of his most creative and fertile periods as a mature artist.

It’s incredible to me that neither this nor the “1980 Floor Show” (Bowie’s Midnight Special special from 1973) have been made available for the home market. There were also German and Japanese television broadcasts of the 1978 tour. Surely Bowie fans would rather have one of these programs on DVD than another bloody Ziggy anniversary release! Enough’s enough, already, EMI…

Well, until that day, here’s a great quaklity YouTube upload.

SET LIST: “What in The World,” “Blackout,” “Sense of Doubt,” “Speed of Life,” “Hang On to Yourself,” and “Ziggy Stardust.”

(Note, forget what the uploader says about this being “part one”—this is the whole thing. Parts 2-4 are from the NHK Hall show in Toyko later that year)

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Velvet Goldmine: Black velvet paintings of David Bowie (and Billy Dee Williams)

Gallery 1988 posted a few new paintings by Bruce White for its “Velvet Paintings for Your Inner Nerd” show.

Opening Reception: Friday, July 27th from 7-10pm.

Showing: July 27 - August 15, 2012

Gallery 1988 Los Angeles:
7020 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Via Super Punch

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Bowie, Iggy & Tony Visconti sign the guest book at Hansa Studios, Berlin, 1975
06:29 am


David Bowie
Iggy Pop
Tony Visconti

Via EOMS/The Quietus

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
David Bowie bartender
06:02 pm


David Bowie

14 years before he stopped drinking, David Bowie tried his hand at being a mixologist in this photo from 1966.

Did you know there’s a Diamond Dog cocktail?  Well, there is. Combine equal parts of sweet Campari, vermouth, Roses lime juice and fresh squeezed orange juice. Serve on the rocks. It was created at the George V Hotel in Paris, France.

Here’s the recipe for the Ziggy Stardust:

4 parts vodka. 1 part violette liqueur. Dash of orange bitter. 1/2 part Goldschläger. Ground cinnamon. Stir first two ingredients with bitters over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Light a small glass of Goldshläger and pour over the drink.  Dust the flame with cinnamon and serve.

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Is this the best sign ever?

It’s certainly up there!

Thanks to Patrick Browne, via Mark Wood.

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
YouTube frees BBC’s Ziggy Stardust & Quadrophenia docs from futile UK-only restriction

David & Pete
“Jesus, darling—when do you reckon they’ll learn?”

As good as the BBC is at making authoritative and expertly styled documentaries on virtually everything, it seems bizarrely in denial of the YouTube age.

As with its programs on punk, reggae, synthesizers, and krautrock, the Beeb’s rights department seems strangely bent on keeping its pop history lessons imprisoned in its UK-only iPlayer nick, even while kind YouTube uploaders like LisbonExpress and Syden2 hook up the colonies with the good-good.

Ah well. Here’s the BBC’s doc on David Bowie’s creation of his Ziggy Stardust persona…

After the jump, the Beeb doc on how Pete Townshend & the Who made Quadrophenia…

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Black Barbarella’s plastic soul: David Bowie produces Ava Cherry
08:08 am


David Bowie
Eva Cherry

It’s been, what, two-three days since our last Bowie-related post? Well fear not, here’s another… 

The gorgeous Ava Cherry was David Bowie’s mistress and lover during the mid-70s. She was one of his back-up singers, the Astronettes, along with the late Luther Vandross.  In the clip below, you can see her steal the show when Bowie was performing “Footstompin’” (which later got reworked into “Fame” with John Lennon) on The Dick Cavett Show in 1974. (Is it possible to be any hotter than this woman???) This is pretty much the moment where the Diamond Dogs tour gave way to his Young Americans Philly Soul obsession

In late 1973, an Ava Cherry album was planned and partially recorded with Bowie producing, but due to lawsuits with his-then manager Tony DeFries, the album was shelved for 22 years. The tapes that existed had some Bowie originals along with some oddly chosen covers from the Beach Boys, Frank Zappa and Bruce Springsteen. What appears to be a semi-official release came out in 1996 as People From Bad Homes. The material was released again in 2009 as The Astronettes Sessions.

In truth, it’s not that great. I wish I could tell you it was some undiscovered gem of what Bowie called his “plastic soul” phase but it’s, at best, a curiosity for intense Bowie freaks. Her voice, sadly, is no match for her looks and fashion sense. The most memorable track is probably “I Am A Laser” which was later re-worked into “Scream Like A Baby” on Bowie’s Scary Monsters album in 1980. In this rehearsal recording, you can hear Bowie in the background leading the band and calling chord changes.

Note the rap and the line about her “golden showers.” (I wonder if “Golden Years” has a meaning that has hitherto escaped us?)

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Amusing ‘The Big Lebowski’ poster starring Frank Zappa, Iggy and Bowie

I had a good laugh with this one.
Via Retrogasm

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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