Tag Archives: documentary

➤ Revealed! The crucial Bowie diary date: May 25

David Bowie13,FiveYears,film, Francis Whately

❚ FRANCIS WHATELY’S DOCUMENTARY FILM David Bowie, Five Years: The Making Of An Icon has a transmission date – next Saturday on BBC2 at 9.20pm and next week’s Radio Times is publishing a cover feature. Beautifully edited, in both sound and vision, the 90-minute film explores five pivotal years in the singer’s career – 1971, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983 – and features interviews with Bowie’s collaborators. Here’s the trailer:
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➢ Update May 26: Catch up on iPlayer with David Bowie, Five Years – A consummate TV documentary with unseen footage in pristine quality adds lustre to the current golden age for music docs … Watch Bowie’s musical collaborators on camera showing how they created their classic riffs… Wakeman on piano! Carlos on everything! Nile saying “I was as nervous as hell” Deeply satisfying.

➢ Update: Bowie from the horse’s mouth – director Francis Whately tells Ariel how his film is unique

David Bowie, BBC2, Five Years, documentary, Radio Times, ➢ David Bowie, Five Years – previews at Uncut’s blog

➢ Early footage of Bowie showed how his then-wife Angie helped to build his reputation – at the Daily Telegraph

➢ Five remarkable encounters with Ziggy Stardust are revealed for the first time in a new TV film – at the Daily Mail

➢ David Bowie photographs by Masayoshi Sukita on show again June 28–July 27 at Snap, London SW1Y 6NH

1973 BOWIE TV REPORT EXHUMED

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➢ Nationwide part two: filmed in 1973 for BBC TV, it includes backstage reports from the May 25 show at Bournemouth Winter Gardens, UK

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2013 ➤ Remembering why Mick Ronson’s talent deserves to be celebrated

David Bowie, Mick Ronson

The day they signed to RCA, 1971: David Bowie and Mick Ronson in New York

➢ Tonight April 1: Songwriter Gary Kemp marks the
20th anniversary of the death of “the man who rode shotgun to Ziggy”– 10pm, BBC Radio 2, then on iPlayer

“That’s my Jeff Beck” – David Bowie after hearing
Ronson playing in The Hype, 1970

❏ Mick rose to fame as lead guitarist and music arranger on David Bowie’s albums, the missing link in creating the Bowie sound – those signature riffs. “As a guitar god, Ronno inspired a whole generation of guitarists,” says Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp. Mick was a born collaborator and all-round nice guy, and his amazing ability for interpreting and arranging songs soon found him in demand from some of the biggest names in rock, starting with Lou Reed on his album Transformer. Another outstanding Ten Alps documentary (worth hearing over a hifi system) sees a stellar cast of musicians including Chrissie Hynde, Tony Visconti, Ian Hunter, Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey explaining why Mick is such an important figure in British rock’n’roll, while Kemp narrates… In 1992, diagnosed with cancer, Mick produced Morrissey’s album, Your Arsenal. The same year, Ronno’s final live performance was playing All the Young Dudes at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.

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➤ Smash Hits and other mould-breakers of the 80s

Neil Tennant ,Smash Hits, Radio 4, documentary

1983: Neil Tennant as Smash Hits writer. (Photo by Virginia Turbett)

❚ ANOTHER NICELY PACKAGED Radio 4 documentary today celebrated the crucial years 1982–85 which Neil Tennant describes as “the golden age of 80s pop”. They luckily coincided with his tenure as a writer on Smash Hits magazine before stepping into the pop charts himself as half of the Pet Shop Boys. Obviously in a prog titled Neil Tennant’s Smash Hits Christmas Tennant and his cronies were full of back-slapping at the moulds they broke with the mass-selling fan mag, driven initially by two selling points – song lyrics and pull-out pinup posters.

Smash Hits, Radio 4, documentary,Pete Murphy

1982: Peter Murphy of Bauhaus (you really don’t want to see its Christmas cover star)

Launched in Nov 1978 as a monthly title, Smash Hits trailed “The words to 18 top singles” as its key feature. The mag was the invention of former NME editor (and later founder of The Face) Nick Logan who conceived it on the kitchen table and initially toyed with the title Disco Fever, presumably in homage to that year’s horror movie Saturday Night Fever. He chose the Belgian new-wave joker Plastic Bertrand for the cover of a pilot issue in the post-punk vacuum when any new direction seemed significant, but actually launched with Blondie. Smash Hits soon went fortnightly, ran for 28 years, and died with Celebrity Big Brother’s Preston gracing its last cover in 2006. In his Guardian obituary for the mag, Alexis Petridis wrote: “The period between the rise of Adam and the Ants and the collapse of Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s ‘Hit Factory’ empire may prove to be the last truly great pop era, in that it produced not just great pop music, but great pop stars.”

Tennant ignores the fact that 80s classic pop began with the music of Spandau Ballet and Adam Ant a couple of years earlier than his joining the mag. Also unmentioned in today’s doc was that the mould-breaking writing of this era was actually led by The Face and the subcultural flagship magazine New Sounds New Styles, which gently parodied the posers of the New Romantics movement and closed in 1982 through lack of promotion by its publisher Emap, who also happened to publish Smash Hits. The fresh rebel writers of NSNS had adopted a tongue-in-cheek tone which kickstarted a shift of power away from stars and their publicists into the hands of writers themselves. Once the 80s had revived the long-dead credibility of pop music – dubbed “pure pop” in vigorous public debates – Smash Hits took its cue by adopting a knowing approach to pop journalism and providing a cheeky foil to Britain’s four seriously po-faced weekly rock-music newspapers. We cannot underestimate how its humour helped sophisticate the Smash Hits reader, pragmatically described by Tennant as “the 12-year-old girl in Grantham”. Which was a neat way of deflating his own pomposity.

Spookiest quote today came from Toyah, after remarking that the pop scene has lost the airy optimism of the 80s: “We now view fame as something dark and faintly abusive.” Oo-er.

Neil Tennant ,Smash Hits, Radio 4, documentary, Pet Shop Boys

April 1985: Tennant as cover star and Pet Shop Boy with Chris Lowe

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➤ 40 years of Ziggy + another feast of Bowie

Ziggy Stardust, Spiders from Mars, David Bowie, Top of the Pops,✱ Who needs reminding it’s 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”? June 6 1972 saw the release of one of the most influential albums ever recorded — David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars

➢ Bowie evening on BBC4, Friday June 22

9:00 BST David Bowie and The Story of Ziggy Stardust — exhilaratingly observant new TV doc narrated by Jarvis Cocker, 2012, directed by James Hale and exec-produced by Paul Bullock who brought us the brilliant Prince, A Purple Reign last year. Tight, total and definitive (in everything but an Angie contribution), it has contemporary rivals queueing to heap on the respect while nailing the genius with several gasp-out-loud revelations (you will sit up when Mike Garson hits the piano!). Quote of the era: “I can’t stand the premise of going on in jeans and being real.” A landmark. Repeated June 23, 25 and on iPlayer

10:00 The Genius of David Bowie — energised compilation of best archive performances, 2012, with breathtaking mature renderings of Heroes, Ashes and Fashion, plus magnificent Lou Reed and Iggy Pop as guests among others you’d rather ignore. Also June 23, 25

11:00 Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars — D A Pennebaker’s plodding, murky and utterly amateur film might as well have been bootlegged going by its appalling camerawork, shoddy editing, fudge sound (relieved only by its backstage footage revealing Bowie as the angst-ridden artiste). It was shot live at Hammersmith Odeon in 1973, the night Ziggy made his last stand even with Mick Ronson at peak power. “The first we knew we were unemployed was onstage,” the drummer Woody admitted at the Ziggy plaque unveiling in March. Historical curio worth a first watch just so you can feel the heat of real fan worship. If only the evident genius of Bowie himself could have been more watchably captured! But luckily I saw the whole wowie spectacle from Row C and the Standard was the first paper to break the news next morning. (This was the world pre-Twitter, remember.)

12:30 David Bowie at the BBC — live concert at the Radio Theatre, 2000, brilliant mix of classic songs (Fame, Man Who Sold The World, Always Crashing, Wild is the Wind) plus Gail Ann Dorsey on bass guitar. Also June 23, 25

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Where to draw a line between glitter and glam
— at Shapersofthe80s

If David Jones hadn’t become Bowie — at Shapersofthe80s

Behind Bowie’s “lost” Jean Genie video — at Shapersofthe80s

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Birth of Glam , Gary Kemp , Marc Bolan,Radio 2, documentary, glitter✱ TONIGHT — Another brilliant radio doc on The Birth of Glam presented by Gary Kemp goes out June 13 at 10pm BST on Radio 2 … Two years ago under its original title The Glory of Glam it prompted a major assessment of the difference between glitter and glam here at Shapersofthe80s. At that time we said “If this documentary doesn’t win a Sony radio award, there’s no justice.”

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➤ Ziggy’s 40 fabulous years of being not alone, cos you’re won-der-ful

Ziggy Stardust,Spiders from Mars,David Bowie,albums,anniversary,

Backside of the album that inspired generations: Bowie as the alien Ziggy about to call home from a phone box in Heddon Street, London. (Photography © Brian Ward)

❚ THE KING OF UK POP HITS HIS 40th ANNIVERSARY, just as HM The Queen completes her sixth decade on the throne, but we don’t imagine she planned it that way. The most famous Martian in history landed on Earth on June 6 1972 with the release of his album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars. He created a new breed of quintessentially British pop star and expanded the realm of rock-and-roll by injecting melodrama, fantasy and glitz.

A wistful older generation was yearning for the energy of the 60s. A teen generation faced a paranoid future threatened by nuclear apocalypse. The playfully androgynous Ziggy Stardust astonished both audiences by introducing a knowing sense of decadence rooted in individual style and a repertoire of life-skills to see us through whatever adversity. Laying down a bunch of wonderful melodies, the vocals enunciate the manifesto with clarity throughout — Five Years, Moonage Daydream, Suffragette City especially.

It was a bravura, theatrical strategy for pursuing what you wanted to get out of life, and capitalised on the iconoclasm of the 60s which had subverted society’s traditions of role play and “knowing your place”.

Ziggy himself was an entirely invented persona, an outsider rock-star created by the not-then-famous David Bowie who expressed through Ziggy a grand vision and through the Spiders consummate musicianship — not a note out of place, and Mick Ronson at his most snarlingly brilliant. The album is a pinnacle of arch originality like few others, and its fierce riffs and hooks have influenced almost every innovative performer since.

➢ Review of the album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust etc at BBC Music — “It sounds like a cliché, but to an entire generation this album has become a yardstick by which to measure all others. Why the hyperbole?

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

The 40th-anniversary celebrations and media activity are not entirely industry hype, but genuine tributes to an artist of undoubted genius. None the less, EMI is releasing a compilation of brilliantly remastered tracks on Monday June 4 on both CD and vinyl, and all are available to stream free at the NME which is trailing special features in next week’s issue…

♫ LISTEN at the NME — David Bowie streams a remastered
Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust in full

ONLINE AND ON THE AIRWAVES

Nick Rhodes, Gary Kemp,  Ziggy Changed My Life, 6Music, Radio2,

A picture they once said could never be taken: Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran at the home of Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, brought together by the radio documentary Ziggy Changed My Life

❏ Not for nothing do the next week’s highlights come from the Ten Alps stable, one of the UK’s leading factual programme-makers. From midnight tomorrow BBC 6 Music kicks off with a two-hour assessment of Ziggy as the Pied Piper who shaped the dreams of Gary Kemp, Nick Rhodes and others. This thoroughly researched doc tells tales from a host of their peers and is recycled in a couple of other slots of more manageable duration…

Click to read Kemp’s article in The Times

➢ Ziggy Changed My Life: full two-hour radio documentary on BBC 6 Music, midnight BST June 2–3 — Songwriter Gary Kemp explains how David Bowie created Ziggy, how the album changed his life and influenced a generation of performers. Guests include: Trevor Bolder, bass player for The Spiders from Mars; Woody Woodmansey, drummer for The Spiders from Mars, Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran, Suzi Ronson, Leee Black Childers, Lindsay Kemp, Kevin Cann, Kris Needs, Ken Scott, Terry Pastor, George Underwood and Anya Wilson.

➢ Ziggy Played Guitar on BBC Radio 2, at 10pm June 6 — Reduced one-hour version of Ziggy Changed My Life

➢ Ziggy Changed My Life — Abridged 23-minute version broadcast last month on BBC World Service and available online at iPlayer “until 1 Jan, 2099”

➢ Inspirational Bowie: clip from 65th birthday broadcast last January on Radio 2 — His influences on Boy George, Peter Hook, Marc Almond, Annie Lennox, Debbie Harry, Guy Garvey, Jarvis Cocker

➢ David Bowie Archive concert (2000) on BBC radio iPlayer — Live in concert at Glastonbury in 2000.

ZIGGY DISSECTED FROM TOP TO TOE

David Bowie, Starman,

“After Starman, everything changed” — Woody Woodmansey, drummer and Spider

➢ Pushing Ahead of the Dame: David Bowie, song by song — incomparable blog by Chris O’Leary

FOUR ESSENTIAL BOOKS ABOUT BOWIE

Man Who Sold the World,David Bowie ,Peter Doggett,books ➢ The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s by Peter Doggett (Bodley Head 2011)

A song-by-song analysis shows how David Bowie embodied a decade. A work of impeccable scholarly exegesis, The Man Who Sold the World is about as far removed from conventional biography as its subject is from run-of-the-mill rock’n’roll. Still, it is hard to imagine another book telling you more of what really matters about David Bowie than this one … / Continued online

Strange Fascination,David Bowie, David Buckley, books ➢ Strange Fascination: David Bowie, The Definitive Story by David Buckley (Virgin 2005)

Written by the only biographer to get his PhD with a thesis on David Bowie, Strange Fascination is an exhaustive chronicle of Bowie’s career as one of rock’s most influential stars. In a combination of interviews, exclusive photographic material and academic analysis, Buckley examines Bowie’s life and music with an unparalleled level of detail. It’s a book written by an unapologetic fan. Buckley is a better writer than any of those to have tackled Bowie to date. If you read only one Bowie book ever, this should be it … / Continued online

Any Day Now, David Bowie,books, Kevin Cann ➢ Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years (1947–1974) by Kevin Cann (Adelita 2010)

A feast of Bowie-ana served up like La Grande Bouffe, in ever more tempting waffeur-thin slices… It is impossible adequately to acknowledge the trainspotterish, yet deeply rewarding scope of this sheer labour of love that has amassed 850 pictures — friends, lovers, costumes, contracts, doodles, laundry bills, performances, candid snaps — on 336 pages … / Continued at Shapersofthe80s

Starman, David Bowie , Paul Trynka ,books ➢ Starman: David Bowie by Paul Trynka (Sphere 2011)

As befits an erstwhile editor of Mojo, Trynka is good on the musical development of a pop star whose early albums, David Bowie (1967) and Space Oddity (1969), were both little more than confused collections of ill-matched songs, and showed little hint of the confidence and brilliance that was to follow. Beginning with Bowie’s childhood as plain David Jones in post-war Brixton, Trynka tells a tale that has perhaps been told too often to surprise any more, but that nevertheless intrigues in its mixture of ruthlessness, shifting loyalties, monumental drug taking, decadent behaviour and, for a while, undiminished musical invention … / Continued online

JUST FOR TRAINSPOTTERS

➢ 65 crazy facts and bizarre myths about Bowie at the Daily Mirror — Did Bowie help start the credit crunch? He certainly says he was moonwalking years before Michael Jackson…

 Kansai Yamamoto ,V&A ,exhibition, British Design, Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie,costumes

Ziggy stage costume: the Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto described Bowie in 1972 as “neither man nor woman”. This outfit, similar to one worn with a boa in Ziggy’s last performance at Hammersmith Odeon, is currently on show until August 12 in the V&A exhibition, British Design 1948–2012

MORE BOWIE AT SHAPERSOFTHE80S

➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam

➢ If David Jones hadn’t become Bowie what would have become of the rest of us?

➢ Behind Bowie’s “lost” Jean Genie video

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