David Bowie

Space Oddities

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Unauthorized this hour-and-a-half collection of David Bowie clips may be; that's apparent not just from the low-tech packaging, but also in how much of the material has that slightly jerky downloaded-from-online feel. At the same time, it must be said that as such unauthorized products go, this is about as good as it gets in terms of intelligent clip selection and smooth transitional clip-to-clip editing, assembling various interesting bits and pieces spanning the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Even the slightly imperfect visuals aren't nearly so much a problem here as they are with many such items, as the transfers from the download files or whatever the sources might have been seem to have been done as conscientiously as possible within their inherent limitations. Most of these clips are quite good (and in color), but some particularly noteworthy highlights are a 1970 live performance of "Space Oddity" at an awards ceremony; an alternate take of "Oh You Pretty Things" from an early-'70s The Old Grey Whistle Test program; the bizarre 1973 Midnight Special duet on "I've Got You Babe" with dressed-as-a-nun Marianne Faithfull; and "Alabama Song" from a 1978 broadcast. You'd never call his duet with Bing Crosby on "Little Drummer Boy" a highlight of either man's career, but that stranger-than-fiction performance is here to savor in all its weirdness. Also of note, though David Bowie doesn't play music in these, are the 13-minute dialogue-less 1967 film The Image (in which Bowie plays one of the two parts) and a very short late-'60s ice cream commercial in which Bowie can be briefly glimpsed.