David Bowie

Radio Hype

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Once more into the breach, dear friends, and fill the hole with our recycled outtakes. For an artist who has never suffered a shortage of circulating boots, David Bowie has suffered much at the hands of those who would deceive. In the mid-'90s, Gold Standard released this same collection as Semi Acoustic Love Affair, a collection which actually boasted the best ever sound for the contents. Just a couple of years later, it resurfaced, retitled, redesigned, and, frankly, revolting. In an age when most labels try to get you to buy things because they've been remastered, here's one that appears to have gone the opposite way entirely. Digitally demastered. One can understand their motives. Great though Semi Acoustic was, it was marred by unseemly CD-R-type fades between each song. Radio Hype does away with them, but the trade was not worthwhile. Opening with a full, but newly, horribly distorted, rendering of the January 1970 In Concert broadcast which was Mick Ronson's debut alongside Bowie, Radio Hype continues on with one track ("Unwashed") from a BBC studio session three months earlier, then winds up with a bunch of outtakes, themselves familiar from a clutch of other bootlegs. The songs are great, of course, and the performances are phenomenal. But a so-called demo of "Cygnet Committee" meanders along with a permanent hissing hum, and the 1972 vintage live "This Boy" is pretty much all hiss. Other cuts are clearer, but there's a brittle edge to all of them. The 1970 In Concert show ranks amongst Bowie's most expressive, and enjoyable, performances ever, and if you don't have it, and can't find a better quality copy (Semi Acoustic vanished long ago), this is probably better than remaining in ignorance. But a better sounding copy will be around again sometime -- and if you've waited this long, a little longer won't kill you.

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