ROIO of the Week [Recordings of Indeterminate Origin]

The Rise And Rise Of Ziggy Stardust

[Savage Hippo 4CD-Rs/ released 1998]

This is the only complete collection of David Bowie’s appearances for BBC radio during the years 1967 to 1972, when he recorded 12 sessions and live concerts. Incredibly, the official Bowie At The Beeb 2CD set which arrived later in 2000 squandered the opportunity to do better.

It was 20 years ago that collectors saw the first appearances of David Bowie’s BBC recordings in such European CDs as White Light White Heat and what seems to be a Japanese release, Wild Eyed Boy. The quality for White Light White Heat was reasonably good and gave hope that more was in BBC’s vault. But things only speeded up when in 1995, Bowie announced through an unknown label, Trident, that he was putting together a triple CD of his radio sessions. It looked promising when a sampler, BBC Sessions 1969-1972, was put on sale. For the first time, top quality BBC sessions were confirmed to exist. A triple-CD was assembled by Trident but then the company failed to deliver the album. A copy came into the hands of a fan and this copy formed the basis for the 1998 CD-R release of The Rise And Rise Of Ziggy Stardust on the Euro Savage Hippo label.

Here is a summary of what’s on the 4CD set:

Disc 1

Top Gear - 18 Dec 67
Top Gear - 13 May 68
The Sunday Show - 5 Feb 70

This first disc contains music collected from sources other than the Trident 3CD set.

Disc 2

Dave Lee Travis Show - 20 Oct 69
Sounds Of The Seventies - 25 Mar 70
John Peel's Sunday Concert - 5 Jun 71

All of the songs from this CD, except The Supermen, are from the Trident 3CD set.

Disc 3

Bob Harris Show - 21 Sep 71
Sounds Of The Seventies - 18 Jan 72 (possibly 11 Jan)
Sounds Of The Seventies - 11 Jan 72 (possibly 18 Jan)

The first set of tracks on this disc come from the Trident discs, and it is assumed the rest are from other sources.

Disc 4

Top Gear - 16 May 72
Johnny Walker Show - 22 May 72
Sounds Of The Seventies - 23 May 72
From 21 Sep 72 (bookended by DJ Talking With Rick Wakeman)

All of the tracks on this disc come from the Trident 3CD set.

When Bowie officially released his Bowie At The Beeb 2CD set, it picked and chose songs from the 12 sessions in an attempt to avoid duplication. During this period from 1969 to 1972, much of the material performed came from the trilogy of The Man Who Sold The World, Space Oddity and Ziggy Stardust. To attract the fans and collectors, a bonus disc was included to make the set a triple album.

Bowie headed back into the BBC studios in front of 150 invited guests on June 27, 2000 to record a 22-song set. Only 15 songs were included on the bonus disc. To get the entire show, you would have to look for Toys From The Attic, yet another bootleg from an audience source.

Nothing new has surfaced since the 1998 release of The Rise And Rise Of Ziggy Stardust making it a comprehensive and complete collection. Sound quality is exceptional since much of it was taken from what was meant to be an official release.

Prior to this set, there were many single disc collections that offered the BBC sessions in excellent quality albeit incomplete and with much overlapping. There was Crash Course For the Ravers, God Knows I'm Good, Hazy Cosmic Jive and Five Years, among many others.

What’s important about this 4CD set is that it contains Bowie’s best years captured in sterling quality. Although he toured widely in the early ‘70s, his live concerts were never recorded professionally. By the time he got around to doing it, he’d already abandoned his Ziggy Stardust persona. The only quality live concert recording is the Santa Monica, Oct 20, 1972 concert with his Spiders From Mars band that was an FM broadcast. The official Ziggy Stardust movie soundtrack offers the show from July 3, 1973 when Bowie said farewell. But both recording and performance are wanting in dynamics. He sounds bored.

It says something that a national radio station is the keeper of the flame for much of England’s creative and popular culture. If not for the BBC, who would have championed Brit pop before it became such a money-spinner? - Michael Cheah

[Some info was taken from the Ziggy In Concert website.]

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