David Bowie – Live Santa Monica ’72 (2008)

Let yourself go

Bowies “Ziggy Stardust”-tour started in Aylesbury in January 1972 and ended in London in July 1973. At the end of the tour the shows included several songs from the recently released “Aladdin Sane” but during 1972 the shows showcased many older songs, including several from the 1971 album “Hunky Dory”. “Live Santa Monica ‘72” is recorded in October ’72 and part of the “early phase”. So how does this album do?

It is inevitable to compare the two albums from the same tour. “Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture Soundtrack” is already reviewed here at Onelouder. That one is heavier, louder and maybe a little colder. This album, “Live Santa Monica ‘72”, is warmer and has a more groovy feeling. The sound quality is good, the sound is clear, and the mix is ok. Still I get the feeling the sound has too little “body”, I find the overall soundscape a little thin. This type of sound is at its best in the softer and acoustic songs.

We get eight songs on this album that is not present on the “Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture Soundtrack” album; “The supermen”, “Life on Mars?”, “Five years”, “Andy Warhol”, “Queen bitch”, “John I’m only dancing”, “Waiting for the man” and “The Jean genie”. The remaining nine songs are repeats.

The first couple of songs on side A are true rockers. “Changes” is the first really good live version, a mellow and friendly version with a satisfying focus on Mike Garson’s piano. “The supermen” from “The man who sold the world” makes a welcomed appearance. It is soft and jarring at the same time. “Life on Mars?” doesn’t live up to the version on the album, because how could it?

Side B is led off with one of Bowies best intro-songs, “Five years”, played to perfection. I love it when you can hear all the instruments clearly, thin sound or not. The remaining three songs are stripped down, played on acoustic guitars. Both “Space oddity” and “Andy Warhol” get a treatment that lifts them up, clearly high-lights of the album. “My death” is slower and more tentative than it was in London nine months later.

“The width of a circle” that was such a revelation on the other album is less so here. Mick Ronson is surely no Neil Young when it comes to extended guitar solos. They seem less confident on this version and it’s much closer to the album version.

The first song that pokes at my attention from the second LP is the curious song “John, I’m only dancing”. That is the song David played around with during a large part of the seventies and tried out with different arrangements. Here we get it with The Spiders from Mars in an early rocker version. I also love the cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the man”. David channels his inner Lou Reed and the band is fantastic!

The last three songs are classic Bowie live songs. They are performed in a straightforward way, nice to hear but no revelation if you have listened to Bowie live before.

It is hard to say if this album is better than “Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture Soundtrack” or not. It may be a better representation of the tour. The feeling is at least quite different. I find favourite songs on both albums. Maybe a mix of them would be the perfect “mixed tape”?

My rating: 7/10

Side A:

  1. Introduction
  2. Hang on to yourself
  3. Ziggy Stardust
  4. Changes
  5. The supermen
  6. Life on Mars?

Side B:

  1. Five years
  2. Space oddity
  3. Andy Warhol
  4. My death (cover of the Jacques Brel song)

Side C:

  1. The width of a circle
  2. Queen bitch
  3. Moonage daydream
  4. John, I’m only dancing

Side D:

  1. Waiting for the man (cover of the Velvet Underground song)
  2. The Jean genie
  3. Suffragette City
  4. Rock ‘n’ roll suicide

Best live versions: “Space oddity”, “Andy Warhol”, “John, I’m only dancing” and “Waiting for the man”

Produced by: unknown by me, this is a radio show recording turned into an album release.

Media: 2008 remaster, 180 gram vinyl, reissued in 2015 part of the Five years (1969-1973) box

Released: June 30, 2008


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