When David Bowie filled our hearts in 1971. Perhaps one of the more astonishing discoveries from Bowie’s past in recent years has been a recording that captured his performance at Aylesbury in 1971. Some two weeks prior, Bowie had flown to New York where he would meet Andy Warhol at The Factory. The meeting didn’t go down so well however, Bowie still felt great admiration for his unique idol across the Atlantic. On a previous trip to America in 1970 to promote The Man Who Sold The World, Bowie was handed some astonishing records that included one by American singer, Biff Rose. So impressed by the work of Rose, Bowie opens his show at Aylesbury with two covers.
Now, despite the Spiders From Mars being on board in full capacity, it would still be a while before Ziggy Stardust was formulated so what you get with this recording is a band in transition presenting a selection of wonderful songs that encompasses much of Hunky Dory, a couple of older numbers and some fine cover versions taking in Jacques Brel and The Velvet Underground. There is plenty of interesting banter from Bowie throughout the entire recording. He talks of riding the subway, strange murders and his love of American culture. It’s an obsessive trait that would follow him for the remainder of his career.
The personal highlights from this recording are The Supermen, Andy Warhol and Waiting For The Man. The latter being the first time the Velvet Underground had been covered in the UK and probably the first time many would have heard one of their songs to boot! There is an eagerness to Bowie’s embracing of the future, even at this early stage of his career. He’s already sounding like no other act and formulating some amazing songs that would go on the become all time classics.
When this recording first appeared in my mail box on CD back in 2001, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Part of me wanted to send it on to my other trading buddies on the circuit but I was sworn to complete secrecy with explicit instructions to keep it under wraps and not allow it into the hands of anyone unless otherwise notified. Around the same time, there were a number of interesting Ziggy era and Diamond Dogs tour recordings popping up on the collectors circuit that were previously unheard however, this Aylesbury concert was on another scale all together. It was a one of a kind and considered as rare as rocking horse shit! Two years later, it finally appeared on the wider collectors circuit and has since become a legendary performance unlike any other from Bowie’s career.
If you’ve not yet heard this performance, may I suggest you follow the link provided within this blog and give the show a play through as soon as you can. It’s a raw, edgy and crafty performance by a man not yet there but breathtakingly fresh for the times.
SETLIST: Intro/Fill Your Heart/Buzz The Fuzz/Space Oddity/Amsterdam/The Supermen/Oh! You Pretty Things/Eight Line Poem/Changes/Song For Bob Dylan/Andy Warhol/Queen Bitch/Looking For A Friend/Round And Round/Waiting For The Man