David Bowie

Bowie at the Beeb: The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 68-72

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Some collectors might complain that the double-disc Bowie at the Beeb, the first official collection of David Bowie's BBC Radio sessions, isn't complete, yet they likely have bootlegs of this material. All other fans are in for a real treat. Spanning from 1968 to 1972, these recordings find Bowie, if not in his prime, at least at a peak, as he developed from a swinging Carnaby Street pop crooner to swaggering glam rock star. BBC Sessions makes this era come alive. Opening with the lovely, florid "In the Heat of the Morning," the sessions spend time with David the Dandy before he delves into his dramatic heavy rock of the early '70s. That's where guitarist Mick Ronson made his public debut with Bowie at the session that comprises the middle of disc one. This is lean, powerful, terrific music, not as pummeling as The Man Who Sold the World, but it's slightly overshadowed by the session that concludes the first disc. It contains the bulk of rarities here, including the never-released "Looking for a Friend," a rollicking cover of Chuck Berry's "Almost Grown," a version of "It Ain't Easy" where Bowie trades verses with Geoffrey Alexander and George Underwood, and a performance of the exquisite "Bombers." After a pair of songs by just Bowie and Ronson, the second disc finds the Spiders From Mars forming and quickly hitting their stride. Since this disc is largely devoted to recordings from 1972, it's a bit more consistent than the first, and it results in a live Spiders album better than any yet officially released. BBC Sessions may not be revelatory, yet this set is filled with wonderful music that deepens appreciation of Bowie's first great blast of creativity. Any true fan needs it in his collection.

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