Rare, Precious & Beautiful DVD

An awkward compilation this, but an ultimately rewarding one, as it darts across Bowie’s video archive with its eye trained less on rarity (most every track here has appeared elsewhere), than on quality - it would be the easiest thing in the world to gather together a disc’s worth of muddy, out of focus clips and call them rare; it’s quite another to seriously consider what is truly worth watching again and again, and line those up as a stand-alone collection.

Naturally, this leads to some fairly obvious choices - clips from Love You Till Tuesday, the Old Grey Whistle test, the 1980 Floor Show, Dick Cavett and Saturday Night Live are all present, together with a "My Death" lifted direct from the Pennebaker film. Bowie’s performance of "Space Oddity" at the 1970 Ivor Novello Awards has also been around the block a few times.

But there’s also some seldom seen footage built around the 1972 Santa Monica performance of "Ziggy Stardust," a better-than-usual copy of the 1977 Bing Crosby TV appearance, a couple of cuts from the 1978 Earls Court shows ("Heroes" and "Moon Of Alabama") and, in excellent quality, Bowie’s two appearances on British TV’s Kenny Everett Show - a surreal new video for "Space Oddity," and a positively demented "Boys Keep Swinging," with Everett being harangued by Kenny’s kinky businessman. The final track delves into the Christiane F movie, for a scintillating "Station To Station."

Two bonus tracks complete the package: Bowie’s appearance in a UK TV commercial for Luv ice cream, as a member of a fictional pop group, and The Image, Michael Armstrong’s oft-mentioned but rarely seen art film shot in the late 1960s, but largely unknown until Bowie’s 1972 breakthrough saw it reissued to the bafflement of Ziggy fans everywhere. Certainly it doesn’t bear too many repeat viewings, although its value as a curio remains undiminished.

Ultimately, Rare, Precious & Beautiful is a useful, but by no means essential collection, a tidy companion to Bowie’s own Best Of DVD compilation, and a handy way of tying up a few loose ends in the collection. The long-awaited "ultimate" TV digest, however, remains off on some distant horizon. - Dave Thompson

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