Monday, December 08, 2008

Santa Monica 72

there are many legendary and mythical records in the world of music. The Beatles' Butcher Shop cover would be one, as would the Brian Wilson / Beach Boys Smile album. in recent times, of course, we've had a certain Chinese Democracy build up a level of curiosity.

for us Bowie fans, the one that we wanted the most but could never have was this one :

Santa Monica 72 has over the years built up an interesting reputation. originally broadcast on FM radio in the States, legend had it that not only was it the only other quality recording of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust tour beyond the official Motion Picture soundtrack and film, it was in fact better.

having never found the bootleg of the record, or a copy of the expensive, limited edition CD from the mid-90's (i think only 1000 were pressed), i was thrilled to find this in a store on a shopping trip on Sunday!! talk about worth the wait - instead of some cheap bootleg packaging or a standard CD box, here's what i got my hands on!

quite an elegantly crafted set, i think you will agree!

OK, so now that i have it, what's it like, then? quality wise, it's hit and miss. it clearly wasn't recorded with any intention of a full, proper release. all too often the bass and the piano goes out of hearing, and the mix sounds insane on a four speaker system in the car. it's never so bad that you would want to turn it off, mind.......

.....and nor would you dare when you hear it. like any raw, decent bootleg, this captures the energy of an artist playing for the audience in front of him, not some presumed one lurking behind a microphone. whatever it lacks in production value vs the Motion Picture album, it surpasses the official in respect of dynamics, energy and hunger. the version of Width Of A Circle, an oddly forgotten masterpiece of an opus from Bowie, found on Santa Monica 72 is the best version of the song ever.

beyond the drug-soaked, homoerotic voyage of Width, the track listing here is somewhat more interesting than the Motion Picture one. there's a rare, brilliant airing for Queen B(ahem), and the obligatory Velvets cover is a dazzling take on Waiting For The Man instead of his usual White Light / White Heat.

live albums tend to be an infrequent hit, frequent miss affair, but this one is a qualified hit. in terms of quality, it's equal to perhaps the only essential live album of all time, Live At Leeds from The Who. if you are lucky enough to find a copy of this anywhere, grab it and buy it straight away!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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