Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Frak Art!
Let's Dance!
Serious Moonlight:
My David Bowie

This video from a 'Serious Moonlight' Tour Date in Vancouver, BC, was perfect in my 14 year old eyes and ears, except for one thing: Stevie Ray Vaughan was not playing guitar.

That's right, SRV played on Bowie's 1983 Mega-Smash "Let's Dance". That album introduced his sound to the world via the guitar solo in "China Girl".

SRV was in fact, scheduled to do the tour. He apparently rehearsed with the band, and it's possible that he actually did a few dates, but I don't think so.

I have speculated as to the reasons SRV passed on the gigs, but I prefer to imagine what the shows would have actually sounded like with SRV's signature licks and tone.

Earl Slick does the job, but he's a bore when asked for more. It's the most musically dated aspect of this video: His tone is a prime example of 80's tone suckage. It's bad digital flanging and messy comb filtering. Yuk. The sound of stereo gone awry.

I like to turn the sound down during Slick's solo spot on White Light White Heat and put on "Live with Me" from Let it Bleed by the Rolling Stones. If you squint your eyes, Slick looks a little like a youthful Keith Richards.

Perhaps if Bowie hadn't been fixed on collaborating with the wrong Rolling Stone, and if Keith hadn't been busy producing this film with his idol Chuck Berry back then, maybe Keith could've gotten the gig.

I can imagine what THOSE shows would've sounded like with Keith sitting back smoking and 'taking the piss' out of Bowie's 'Art Music': GREAT!

Alas, I've spent a lot more time listening to Rolling Stones and SRV records over the years than I have listening to Bowie. But this concert has a lot to recommend itself musically. It's a fantastic beginner's primer on Bowie's music, without all the baggage of his transexual space junkie persona. It's too bad this concert is not available on CD.

I recently re-purchased Serious Moonlight on DVD for myself and for a friend that I wanted to introduce to 'My David Bowie'. This reviewer from Amazon get's the facts straight, if the presentation is a little slanted. Emphasis mine:

When David Bowie released Let's Dance in 1983, there were fans who felt Ziggy Stardust had sold out, but it was--of course--just another in a long line of stage personae for the Thin White Duke. Unfortunately, it wasn't his most interesting. This video, from the Vancouver stop on the Serious Moonlight tour, seems a little dull. Aside from a prop or two, some nifty costumes for his band (inspired by a Singapore street scene), and singing one song inside a tube of plastic, there's little of the visual imagination seen from Bowie in the past. On the other hand, the band is tight (although Earl Slick's I'm-a-guitar-god moves grow tiresome), the lighting is cool, and Bowie pulls out material from throughout his career (there are only three songs from his then-latest album Let's Dance). Best of all, he seems to be having fun, and without all the makeup and outrageousness, David Bowie the person comes through more. Maybe it's just another stage persona, but he seems like a pretty nice bloke. --Geof Miller

This is a concert that focuses on Bowie's music, not high concept. I think Mr. Miller partially missed the memo, here. The original name of Bowie's 1983 Album was "Frak Art. Let's Dance" Except, it wasn't Frak. It was an expression more common among Earthlings, and one that Bowie's label couldn't abide. In this way, this concert's a smash.

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