The Best of Bowie

The Best DVD

You've probably already found our review pages for other great Bowie stuff like Jazzin For Blue Jean and the Labyrinth Videos. But these are all found on 2002's Best of Bowie DVDs, which every Bowie fan should have. If you don't, what the heck is wrong with you? You need to get them now. Hurry up! There's not a moment to lose, so nevermind the boat!
Just jump in the river and

Swim Upstream like the mad, Bowie-Loving salmon that you are!

Best of Bowie has most of his videos from 1972 to 2002, and even some extra stuff and random performances (many Live!). It's the ultimate experience for BowieLove. But it has no particular structure, so we're just going to review selected highlights. We do over-analyze the 80's videos, but can't help it. They just offer too much good, fun stuff. Also we wanted to give extra attention to the 80's and 90's, which are oft-neglected periods of Bowie goodness. Much as we love Ziggy, he always gets the lion's share of Bowie adoration, and we enjoy ALL of Duke's work.

Hunky to Aladdin

This is sweet footage from the early years, and it's all LIVE! David's voice is so clear and beautiful on Drive In Saturday and Oh you Pretty Things. From Hunky Dory to Diamond Dogs, you think you know him, but there's no comparison to the live performance. He romances the crowd just by standing there, and his voice is like velvet, smooth and floating out perfectly. We love Bowie's modern voice, but this was before the smoke had gotten to it, so it has a special quality that flows and oozes until you drown in it. David is always sweet, but in these early years his texture was honey instead of sugar, y'know?

Also he's singing and playing for a lot of these. He doesn't leave that grunt work to the band. Bowie is from a time when musicians were real and could actually play instruments. He plays like ten different ones. He can even play piano and sing like an angel at the same time. He can even stand and play guitar and sing simultaneously. (Many acts today can barely do *one* of those things separately.) He can multi-task and multi-talent. This is how he can be a great artist, musician, and film actor; his brain is some kinda super-computer.

And be sure to find the Easter Egg to the right of Drive In Saturday! There's a snip of an interview that is just adorable. The guy asks David about what kind of fan mail he's been getting, hehe.

Young Americans - The Dick Cavett Show

This is a landmark performance, though the quality on it here is muffled. You can see and hear it better on the actual Cavett DVD (Rock Icons). That one also includes the totally amazing Bowie interview, one of David's first talk show appearances in the States. Cavett was kinda rough on him, not very welcoming, but David handled it well despite being coked. He also enchanted the ep with his amazing "oddity" (Dick's word) because this is the only Rock Icon show that is incomplete; the beginning and the end of the ep mysteriously disappeared. We were really hoping that Best of Bowie would include the Bowie interview, but sadly no.

As for the performance... WOW. Who knows exactly how coked he was, but certainly enough for confidence. By '74, he was taking powdered courage before many (all?) appearances, and usually performing very well. This is a good example. His throat sounds a bit rough, but this is a flawless gig that rocked the crowd, so full of passion. (Call it sappy but we've always felt that Young Americans is David's truest signature, and something magical happens when he performs it.) He also did 1984 with great aplomb, though that's not on this DVD either...

Boys and DJ's Keep Swinging

David does the amazing like it's nothing at all. He predicts an entire decade before it's even started. Boys Keep Swinging looks like a pop video from 1986, but the year is '79. When everyone else was mired in bell bottoms and hideous earth tones, Bowie went post-modern, cross-dressing deco art.
For DJ, he was a pioneer for 2nd Unit video, playing the DJ in the booth *and* taking it to the streets. Though alarmingly thin (even for Bowie) and still reeling from drug problems, he appears in top form: Nothing but spirit and affection for the lucky fans who got to appear in this video.

Very Scary Monsters

Scary Monsters took the video world to strange new places, with the exception of Fashion. Fashion looks like a tame throwback of some kind. Like, it's contemporary for the time period, but it seems outdated for Bowie because he's usually ahead of whatever time period is currently current?
In particular, Ashes to Ashes explores the wilder extremes of video:

Arguably the weirdest Bowie video ever.
Strange colors, a crashing seashore, clowns and mimes and assorted religious officials (?) being chased by a backhoe. Very disturbing picture of Bowie falling apart in a padded room, and then he's the space cadet floating in the tin can. There's also this weird image of "Astronaut in Twisted Domesticity," stuck in a dentist's chair while Betty Lou Potroast is doing laundry in the kitchen.

We've never understood this one, but it includes lamenting about his past. This looks like Major Tom, broken and unbalanced, and Bowie criticizes him and sounds regretful about his drug use.
But we think Bowie is his own worst critic and way too hard on himself. Drugs are a normal part of the rock star life. It's supposed to be all the drugs and sex you can handle - it should get crazy and out of control, or you're not doing it right. This is the dream to live as anyone would, especially a guy who came from obscurity's back page and fought his way to the top. David is a beautiful and amazing oddity, but still human after all. It's ok, Duke. Stay positive and forgive yourself.
We hope this video was only meant in fun, but it's sad to associate Space Oddity with negative vibes of any kind, as this was a defining, breakout hit after his years of struggling. There's nothing to regret here. Hell, if David Bowie has regrets about Major Tom, there's no hope for any of us or anything we've accomplished.

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