David Bowie - Vh1 Storytellers

2009-09-14 11:11
Vh1 Storytellers
It's bizarre seeing him wearing muted knits and bathed in blue TV-Studio lights, with carefully arranged young fans arranged around him in worshipping rows swaying from side to side to a cheesed-up version of "Drive In Saturday".

But Bowie – the guy who would be cool even if he worked at Build-a-Bear – carries the TV special thing off with wrinkly dignity - opening with a rearranged piano version of "Life on Mars" (a classic recently resurrected as the opening credits music for the brilliant British TV series of the same name), delivering "Thursday's Child" based on a moment he's remembered since he was 14 years old, taking the piss out of himself about his terrible Tin Machine, and performing the first song he ever wrote and recorded, "Can't help thinking about me", with its Stones-flavoured choruses.

Onstage in the DVD, Bowie appears awkward, even nervous – like his prescription meds went missing. You don't hear that on the CD, though, because his voice hasn't aged at all – it still has that quavering, dry and otherworldly quality. It’s still unlike any other. Unfortunately, this is not a flawless CD/DVD package for fans.

First off, the "story" CD audio tracks and the actual songs are combined, so that you have to forward through the stories to get to the songs. You only want to hear the anecdotes once – maybe twice - but the special piano-based performances belong on your iPod for life. Also, liner notes should actually credit who's who onstage – this is a product for fans, and fans care about that stuff! The bonus tracks on the DVD don't appear on the CD for some reason.

All in all, this will make a great gift for a fan, but it's a pity it's not better put together, because there's no real reason (apart from the usual piffling old legal and moral ones) for fans to buy it rather than stealing it.

*To cut out the talky bits in the audio, download a free programme called Audacity (Google it). Edit the songs either by deleting the intros or by making them separate tracks, and re-export them before putting them on your player. That's what I’m going to be doing!

American nostalgia music TV station, Vh1's Storyteller series is a showcase for golden oldie musical icons. But it's still weird as hell to see your own teenage sexual and musical icon reminiscing about how things were "then" and getting the audience to sing along to his classic "Rebel Rebel" like a bunch of clapping tannies in a skoolsaal.

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