DAVID BOWIE – ” VH1 Storytellers “

Posted: January 6, 2022 in MUSIC
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On the 23rd of August 1999, David Bowie played an intimate set for invited guests at The Manhattan Centre’s Grand Ballroom in New York for the VH1 Storytellers series. The set has long been regarded as one of the most memorable, with David delving deep in to his catalogue to perform tracks such as ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’ for the first time in 33 years, Aladdin Sane’s ‘Drive-In Saturday’ which he had not performed since 1974 and ‘Word On A Wing’ which received its first outing in 23 years.

Bill Flanagan, Executive Producer of the VH1 Storytellers “We were used to dealing with legendary musicians. Still, landing David Bowie was more than a big booking. There’s no way to say this without being corny: it was an honour. Bowie has a unique place in rock & roll. He is not only one of the most influential musicians of the era, he does nothing unless he is fully committed.

VH1 Storytellers” is the last performance with collaborator and guitarist Reeves Gabrels, whom Bowie had met in 1987 and worked with since, including in the band Tin Machine. Gabrels quit the band 4 days after the show was recorded, leaving Bowie to scramble to find a lead guitarist for his upcoming “Hours” Tour.

 When he appeared on the show on August 23rd, 1999, he was a few months away from releasing “Hours..” an album where he comfortably came to terms with his past, so it fits that he’s looking back fondly here, telling stories about the Mannish Boys and Iggy Pop, sliding the new tunes “Thursday’s Child” and “Seven” in between “Life on Mars?” and “Drive-In Saturday,” plus “Can’t Help Thinking About Me,” a single he released with the Lower Third in 1965. These are all good, relaxed, unplugged readings, but the chief attraction of VH1 Storytellers is, appropriately enough, those stories Bowie tells, as they not only offer a glimpse into the creation of these songs.

1999 TV Show offers priceless insights and powerful renditions. One can’t imagine many stars of his stature spinning self deprecating anecdotes, but the storytellers song-and-chat format was made for Bowie’s uniquely thespian charm. Here he recalls seeking a toilet, dressed in full Ziggy regalia, and protesting to the promoter. “My dear man, I can’t piss in the sink.” The promoter grumbled, “Son, if it’s good enough for Shirley Bassey, it’s good enough for you.” He also mentions drunkenly shaving his eyebrows off when Mott The Hoople rejected “Drive In Saturday” (“that taught them a lesson”). He also reveals his vote for “the worst two lines I’ve ever written.” Yet when the music kicks in he’s suddenly the airborne trouper again, offering brilliant versions of “Life On Mars?”, “China Girl” and “My Cry for Help”, “Word On A Wing”. The accompanying DVD adds a teased-out “Always Crashing in the Same Car”-

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