David Bowie
Stage


4.5
superb

Review

by e210013 USER (124 Reviews)
February 10th, 2016 | 22 replies


Release Date: 1978 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Stage is quite a leap forward when compared to David Live. However, in general, it remains an underrated album in Bowie's discography.

“Stage” is the second live album of David Bowie and was released in 1978. The line up on the album is David Bowie, Carlos Alomar, George Murray, Dennis Davis and Adrian Belew. The album had also the participation of Simon House, Sean Mayes and Roger Powell.


Many times, when an artist releases a live album, often closes one chapter in his career and opens another. Such was the case with the release of “Stage” of Bowie. Only a few short years before, Bowie, in the “Ziggy Stardust” persona, was the centre of attention in the rock world. In between the final “Ziggy Stardust” show in 1973 and the release of “Stage”, there had been many changes in his musical career. Between 1973 and 1975, he released four more studio albums. “Aladdin Sane”, one of his essential releases, “Pin Ups”, the Bowie's covers album, the theatrical drama of “Diamond Dogs” and the accompanying tour cast him in an ever larger spotlight, and the controversial white soul of “Young Americans”. Always with his wandering spirit, Bowie took a slight left turn with “Station To Station” in 1976, and then he speeded off the road with “Low” and “Heroes”. It’s here, where we can catch him live on “Stage”.

Bowie’s second official live album of the 70’s is an improvement on the first one, “David Live” released in 1974, even though most involved with it consider it a disappointment. Having not attended any of the supposedly excellent shows that this allegedly fails to properly capture, I don’t have any such reservations about this album, and as such I can readily enjoy it. While “David Live” captured Bowie’s music in a traditional phase, from glam rock to soul, “Stage” was released in his Berlin phase, with the presence of Brian Eno, and so, it reflects more that musical phase. Anyway, it has also some songs from “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars” and from “Station to Station”.

“Stage” was recorded on the “Isolar II – The 1978 World Tour”, more commonly known as “The Low/Heroes World Tour” or “The Stage Tour”. The tour opened on 29 March 1978 at the San Diego Sports Arena, continuing through North America, Europe and Australia, before reaching a conclusion at the Nippon Budokan in Japan on 12 December 1978. The recordings were taken from concerts in Philadelphia, Providence and Boston, in USA. It primarily included material from Bowie’s three most recent studio works to that date, “Station To Station”, released in 1976, “Low” and “Heroes”, both released in 1977. However, in a true surprise show of nostalgia, it also featured five songs from his fifth studio album “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars”, released in 1972.

The original version of "Stage" has 17 songs. The songs appear in the chronological order of the original release of his studio albums, with 5 songs of “Ziggy Stardust”, 3 songs of “Station To Station”, 5 songs of “Low” and 4 songs of “Heroes”. However, the 2005 CD reissue version is the best because it sequences the songs in the order that they were actually performed and it includes also three bonus tracks, “Alabama Song”, “Be My Wife” and a version of “Stay”.

About the performance, the band pulls off the coldly majestic “Warszawa”, an unusual choice for an album opener, extremely well, and there are plenty of other potential highlights here, plus House’s prominent violin adds an interesting new element that differentiates some of these songs from their studio counterparts. Disc one is comprised primarily of “Low” and “Heroes” tracks aside from “Fame”, with “Heroes” the song unsurprisingly serving as the centrepiece and the high point of the set. Like most songs here it may not be as good as the original, but this version is still epic and wonderful in its own right. Disc two goes back in time for five straight “Ziggy Stardust” songs. “Art Decade” doesn’t really fit very well here, and I prefer The Doors’ version of “Alabama Song”. But despite it, the album ends strongly with three “Station To Station” tracks, where Belew in particular shines, especially on the aforementioned extended version of “Stay”. On the whole, this album doesn’t really provide anything new, than to show that Bowie and company could pull these songs off in a live setting. Still, there’s nothing wrong with that, and I really enjoy listening to this album.


Conclusion: “Stage” is an excellent live album. It has an incredible set of songs and a superior performance. The main criticisms of the album are that it actually sounds too good, meaning that it lacks the ambiance and excitement of a true live performance, plus most of the songs don’t sound that different from the studio versions which are in general superior, and the song selection is too reliant on too few albums. Still, though I too would’ve preferred a more career encompassing retrospective, Bowie is in fine voice throughout, and it’s impressive how his excellent band can recreate the complex studio concoctions from "Low" and “Heroes” in particular, even if most of the instrumental tracks aren’t best suited for a live setting. Anyway, Bowie is a highly visual artist and his artistry can’t be captured in only on a CD.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (58)
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
February 10th 2016


2583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As I promised before, when I made my first list, "My Top Ten Of The Studio Albums Of Bowie", here I am putting my second homage to Bowie, my first review of an album of him, "Stage".

However, my natural choices would be very different, at a first sight. My first choice could be naturally "Space Oddity", my first contact with his music and one of my first vinyl discs, bought in the distant decade of the 70's. My second choices could be "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars" or "Low", my two favourite albums from him. My third choices could be also "Heroes", Station To Station" and "The Man Who old The World", which are my second favourites albums from him. Or even they could be "Hunky Dory", Aladdin Sane" or "Diamond Dogs", which could be also great options.

Anyway, I chose "Stage". Why? Mainly because of two reasons. First, I always loved the album and I always considered it an underrated piece of music. Second, because there isn't, until now, any review of it, here on Sputnik. I really don't know why, but I really have the feeling that people here on Sputnik don't love live albums in general. Comparing the reviwes there are many few live reviwes on this site, which I really think that it's a pity.

So, here it is my first review of Bowie, the review of "Stage". I hope you enjoy it, and as usual, I count with your comments.

TwigTW
February 10th 2016


3824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Nice review, as always--haven't listened to this in years. I was at two of the three shows where it was recorded, so it should be one of my favorites. But I have to say, this is not my favorite Bowie backing band. Songs from Low and Heroes sound great, but everything else is too thin and sterile for my taste. I'm glad to read it's been re-released with all the songs in the correct order. I'll have to give it another listen.

e210013
February 10th 2016


2583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Twig. I appreciate your comment and I respect your point of view, despite I disagree a little bit with you.

Sincerely, I can envy you for having assisted at two of the three shows where the album was recorded. Unfortunately, I never saw any concert of Bowie, and as we know, I'll never have the opportunity to do so.

Cheers, dude.

TwigTW
February 10th 2016


3824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I don't know if you've seen it, but a version of the show was recorded for German Tv. It's on YouTube:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4sr457y2fw

e210013
February 10th 2016


2583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I didn't see that. Thanks, man. I will see it soon as I can.

Veldin
February 10th 2016


3886 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review, mate! I absolutely love this album (properly a 4.8). Some of the material stands up to the studio versions, other definitely don't, but are still interesting adaptations nonetheless. Didn't know those three songs were bonuses; a damn shame they aren't on the original versions.

Veldin
February 10th 2016


3886 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm surprised this release has so few ratings. I feel like if any Bowie fan on Sputnik saw the tracklist, they'd lose their shit. Hopefully this review and recent Bowie resurgence will bring more attention to this record.

e210013
February 10th 2016


2583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, Veldin. It was also my intention, man. I think that unfortunately this is a forgotten album of Bowie. I also think the adaptations are very curious, interesting and difficult too. I also hope that my review be an important step to the resurrection of this album.

Cheers.

Jethro42
February 10th 2016


15963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice to see this album getting reviewed. The live renditions are energetic and well done. Album also have a nice live ambience. The setlist is enticing and Bowie is in a good shape. For all these reasons I bump it up to a 4. However, I prefer the original versions over it and I find they could have use the guitars more properly for a better effect. I find guitar works are neglected and randomly executed. In ''Ziggy Stardust'', there isn't any guitar playing at all, instead they use a violin and keyboards, and it doesn't work very well compared to the original.



Another great review, e21 dude.

e210013
February 10th 2016


2583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok, man. Almost all the people prefer the new rendition to the original version, because the order of the songs on the list aren't in the proper order of the live performance. About the use of violin and keyboards I've nothing against it. As I wrote on my review, the use of violin of House on the songs change the songs adding a new and different element to the original versions. It makes of this live album, a different way of performing the original versions, which is a good thing, I think.

Thanks, Jethro. Your comments are always good and incisors. I always appreciated them.

Cheers.

Jethro42
February 10th 2016


15963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like to read your comments as well, man.

Yeah I noticed that the order of the songs was not the same from here and from Progarchives. I think the latter got it right. Also youtube songs seem to be in a good order as well.

As for the use of the violin and the keys instead of the guitar, I have nothing against it, cos it sounds great when properly used, but in a context of a David Bowie album from the 70's, I think that the use of a prominent electric/acoustic guitar could be better than a violin for most of his songs. It would be more at the image of his music of the time.

Cheers!

e210013
February 11th 2016


2583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok, man. I can see your point of view.

Yeah, the order on Sputnik is the original vinyl version and on Progarchives is the 2005 reissue CD version, plus 3 bonus tracks. I have both versions, so to me it's perfectly irrelevant. Of course, my first contact with the album was with the vinyl version that I bought in the 70's. But I can admit that the people can prefer the version performed live with the correct order, the 2005 version.

Cheers.

TheIntruder
February 12th 2016


429 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think the same of the other members. Another great review. Special in this case, Bowie and his live album Stage. I'm really glad because finally someone reviewed this album. So, have a pos.

e210013
February 12th 2016


2583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks man, I appreciate your comment, as usual.

Cheers.

doctorjimmy
February 13th 2016


386 Comments


very nice, detailed review man, pos. it definitely warmed me up to listen to the record, which for some reason I haven't come around to listening ;)

e210013
February 14th 2016


2583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks. doctor. I'm glad you liked it. This is my style of reviews. And i'm also glad that, because my review, you listened to the album.

Cheers.

JigglyPDiddy
February 14th 2016


3681 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice! Love this set. Have a pos.

e210013
February 14th 2016


2583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, Jiggly. You're very welcome to my review.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
August 29th 2016


19107 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6

such a damn fine album

Digging: Autistic Daughters - Uneasy Flowers

e210013
August 29th 2016


2583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, Frip. You can bet on it. Unfortunately, it always was a underrated piece of music.

Cheers, man.



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