Tuesday, March 11, 2008

David Bowie - White Light/White Heat

(RCA, 1983)

Whoop-de-doo, it’s a pair of poorly-recorded and/or mixed live recordings from 1973 that are historically significant, perhaps, but not a whole lotta fun to listen to. Since the world needed another lousy Velvet Underground cover, Bowie and the Spiders From Mars strip “White Light/White Heat” of its tense, scuzzy excitement, turning it into faceless bar-band glam – a description that applies to plenty of the era’s Bowie rockers, by the way – that manages to rival Lou Reed’s Rock ’N’ Roll Animal version in terms of sheer dullness (don’t worry, Lou: you still win). Bah. Who put this cock in my rock? “Cracked Actor” makes a satisfying racket as it bashes along in its rudimentary way, but doesn’t differ enough from the studio version to give it any real worth. Why does this single exist?? Why does ANY live single exist?? Feel free to ignore it and its parent album (Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture) altogether, or just watch the concert video if you have some burning desire to experience old Ziggy on stage.


Donald Brown said...

What's interesting here is that both this single and the previous date from 1983: EMI gives us the stylized, soul-less hit-maker (it was his biggest selling album in ages, maybe ever, and got way more MTV play for it's singles than the Pierrot costume ever did); RCA, abandoned, goes to the vaults to release this ill-recorded live period relic of his heyday as the glam queen.

The film is interesting and I hear they've remastered the soundtrack, so maybe it's better now (it's worth watching to see Bowie's cover of Jacques Brel's "My Death"), but, at the time, it was just a perfect example of the hall of mirrors approach to Bowie: he is . . . whatever version you'll buy.

ithinkihatemy45s said...

Those last six words are, I think, the best summation of Bowie I've ever read.