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David Bowie - A Reality Tour CD (album) cover


David Bowie


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4.10 | 35 ratings

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4 stars I originally watched the DVD from which this album comes in 2005, and maybe I was just in a bad mood that night, but I found it really boring and it cast a lot of doubts in my head about how great Bowie actually was. When this album was released in early 2010, I wasn't chomping at the bit to get it, but I eventually caved and decided to pick it up. And it's a good thing I did, because I like it! It's pretty long (all 30 tracks from the DVD, plus 3 bonus tracks), and it doesn't scratch all of my setlist itches (there's nothing from Station to Station here, though they did some stuff from it in other shows), but it's definitely a fun experience.

While I certainly prefer "classic" (through Scary Monsters) Bowie on the whole to what come later, I find myself with some admiration for the emphasis on post-70's material. Heathen and Reality end up comprising 11 of the 33 tracks on their own, and they mostly sound marvelous (I especially like how much better "New Killer Star" and "Reality" sound here; the live vibe works to their benefit). They're placed well, too: putting "New Killer Star" and "Reality" near the beginning as energy boosters sets a great tone, and the sequence of "Bring Me the Disco King," "Slip Away" and "Heathen (The Rays)" near the end feels nearly ideal. Good selections are made for other post-classic material as well: there's one track a piece from Let's Dance ("China Girl") and Tonight ("Loving the Alien," done as an acoustic number that's nearly revelatory and is easily my favorite part of the album), two tracks a piece from Outside ("Hallo Spaceboy," done in all of its noisy glory, and "The Motel," which is atmospheric as ever) and Earthling (a take-it-or-leave-it "Battle for Britain" and a bring-the- house-down "I'm Afraid of Americans"), and nothing from Never Let Me Down, Black Tie White Noise or Hours... (fine by me). Throw in a rendition of the Queen collaboration "Under Pressure" (a pretty nice track if you can ignore the fairly banal Up With People lyrics), and you have a concert that has much more recent material than not. Sure, it would be nice on a certain level to have an album that could mostly be replicated with the track listing of David Live and Stage, but by going this route he made a late-period live album that sounds pretty necessary.

Now, of course, 15 tracks is nowhere near enough to scratch the classic Bowie itch, but it does a decent job. "Heroes" is only represented by the title track (which loses its synth line and much of its charm, but it's alright), but the other choices are good enough. Man Who Sold the World gets the title track, Hunky Dory gets the two biggies ("Changes," "Life on Mars?"), Ziggy closes out the main concert with three selections ("Five Years," "Hang Onto Yourself," "Ziggy Stardust," all of which sound nice enough), Young Americans throws in "Fame" (sounds GREAT here), Low has my two slight favorites ("Breaking Glass," "Be My Wife"), Scary Monsters has "Ashes to Ashes," and even Lodger gets a track ("Fantastic Voyage"). As expected, there are also Bowie-written tracks from way back when: "Sister Midnight" (another track from The Idiot) and "All the Young Dudes," which sounds waaaaay better here than on Live. Good choices!

If I had to say anything else about this album, it would be praise for how shockingly good Bowie's voice sounds here. Bowie live was always an iffy proposition on vocals, and I didn't expect much here, but he's got plenty of depth and range and power in his sound. Compare and contrast his "Afraid" vocals on Heathen, where he sounded fairly weak given the supporting music, and his vocals here, where he gives an oomph to the song that was always needed.

Basically, anybody who likes Bowie on the whole and doesn't automatically hate all his post-70's work should pick this up. And besides, it's probably the latest-dated Bowie material that will ever be released, so it has some value that way.

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |


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