David Bowie has often been described as the ultimate chameleon of rock. But a chameleon does its best to blend into its surroundings, the very antithesis of what Bowie is all about. Throughout the years he has tried on many guises, attempted many genres, some more successfully than others, but has almost always been interesting regardless of what he's doing.
This compilation takes in 46 performances of some of his greatest work. Early British (and even Dutch and American) tv performances pad things out a little, but the main draw here are the three dozen or so promotional videos. From the early stages of the 'Ziggy' era, to the surrealist video for 1999's 'Survive', Bowie grows old gracefully as the performances go by. Along the way there's glam rock, plastic soul, dark quirkyness, mainstream poprock, r&b, hard edged guitar driven rockers and a bit of dance and drumNbass thrown in for good measure.
The collaborations with Mick Jagger ('Dancing In The Street'), Pet Shop Boys ('Hallo Spaceboy') and Nine Inch Nails ('I'm Afraid Of Americans') are here, as are all his more famous and well loved classics. The videos themselves vary from the simple promo performance, to live concert footage, to some hugely entertaining visual treats.
Highlights include the rarely seen 'Labyrinth' promos and the bizarre 'Ashes To Ashes' video complete with black skies, bulldozers and spacesuits. 'I'm Afraid Of Americans' sees Bowie being chased by Trent Reznor through a US city, while 'Thursdays Child' finds Bowie seeing his younger self in the mirror as his biological clock shows no sign of slowing down. The video for 'Be My Wife' is downright creepy, but my own personal highlight is the promo for 'The Hearts Filthy Lesson' has inspired many a rock video since, most notably those of obvious fan Marilyn Manson.
The 2-disc dvd package may not appear to contain any extras, but appearances can be deceiving. There are 9 easter eggs hidden within the two discs, seven of which are alternate performances. The best of these is a 20-minute video for 'Blue Jean'. Almost a short film in fact, 'Jazzin For Blue Jean' tells the story of David's struggle to get into a concert by Screaming Lord Such (also Bowie) in order to impress 'his bird', with at times hilarious results. It was worth the time it took to work out how to access the easter eggs for this hidden gem alone!
All in all, this is a worthy package of one of the most influential and entertaining musical artists of the last century, and in 97 years time, probably of this century as well.
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