musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: David Bowie

Bowie, Rykodisc, Salem: The Untold Story – May 12, 2016, CinemaSalem

Despite the fact that he is no longer with us, the stories about David Bowie are far from over. So prolific was this legendary artist, there are many songs yet to be heard that will no doubt see the light of day in coming years. His Twitter and Facebook feeds are more active than those of artists supposedly still in existence — yet more evidence of his eternal presence and lasting legacy. And yes, the stories from those who knew and worked with him keep coming in, uncovering a depth of knowledge about his work previously unknown of by even his most devout followers. One such story is of his time working with once Salem, Massachusetts-based maverick indie label upstart Rykodisc, and in particular, their A&R and Special Projects Director, Jeff Rougvie.

Rougvie had a job that Bowie fans could only dream about, which involved digging through the Bowie archives, listening to all the original master tracks of legendary albums and putting together a “wish list” for Ryko’s David Bowie Sound + Vision reissue series. This unveiling of an audiophile’s collection of CDs began with the ambitious Sound + Vision 3-CD plus CD-ROM box set, which went on to win the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Album Package. They then re-mastered and re-released all of his RCA albums, from Space Oddity through Scary Monsters.

Recently at CinemaSalem, located in the heart of this town on Boston’s north shore, Rougvie gave a presentation, ‘Bowie, Rykodisc, Salem: The Untold Story.’ If I were more savvy with a smartphone, I might have Periscoped it for Bowie’s fans worldwide, such were the gems uncovered — in story, visuals and song. It began with a comprehensive history of Rykodisc, a brave little CD-only indie label that achieved stupendous things back at its inception in 1983, but which has fallen into the shadows of rock history. When most people think of Salem, they have images of its witch-burning history and modern day pagans that still inhabit this still rather sleepy New England seaside town. Suffice it to say, a little bit of pagentry to celebrate the good deeds of this label that brought the first compact discs to the U.S. is long overdue.

Ryko's contribution to music aficionados' collections is vast.

Ryko's contribution to music aficionados' collections is vast.

I won’t go into Ryko’s impressive artist roster here (Frank Zappa, the Residents, Chris Bell and Big Star, Bowie, Elvis Costello, Jimi Hendrix, Devo, Nils Lofgren, Bob Mould, Yoko Ono, Galaxie 500, Misfits, Morphine…). You can see their Wikipedia page — or, better yet, Rougvie’s ongoing online retrospective.

In this amazing presentation, what was billed as a 90-minute show turned into three hours of hilarious anecdotes and delicious behind-the-scenes stories (I was going to say ‘dirt,’ but I don’t want to get him into any trouble). This was accompanied by a slide show with rare photos and internal record company documents and two blistering mini-sets from Boston-based Bowie aficionados The Daily Pravda. After the Ryko story leading up to Bowie, the band performed four Bowie songs, in stellar fashion (they’re really quite wonderful). Rougvie then launched into the Bowie portion of the show, which included an exhaustive (and exhausting) biography, some interesting stories about RCA and other entities and what went on when Ryko took over. This was accompanied by photos of Bowie (several of which I’d never seen before) and documents like master tape track listings and album tracks which included possible bonus material, some of which remains unreleased. By hardcore fan standards, it was intense, so you can imagine what the audience thought — a mix of big Bowie fans, casual fans and regular cinema visitors. The band came back and played another four songs to seal the deal for those who were still riveted to their seats in awe.

It is my hope that Rougvie takes this show on the road, because I know of many devout Bowie fans and collectors who would have loved to be there. Until that happens, if you’d like to learn about Bowie’s collaboration with Ryko on the reissues, discover what really happened behind the scenes and learn about the rare tracks that have yet to be heard, check out Rougvie’s Bowie Sound + Vision Blog. It’s crammed full of really interesting information for the serious fan and collector. And follow him on his Twitter and Facebook for any news of upcoming posts, publications and events. He did tell me that this was “just the tip of the iceberg” and that much more is on the way.





The Daily Pravda’s setlist: (set 1) Rebel Rebel / Ziggy Stardust / Man Who Sold The World / Moonage Daydream // (set 2) Starman / Drive In Saturday / Hang Onto Yourself / Heroes

Follow Jeff Rougvie’s exploits:
web | facebook | twitter | album credits (AllMusic) | creative salem podcast

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

My Bowie Memories

A Small Corner Of My World, circa 1987.

A Small Corner Of My World, circa 1987.

I spent the evening going through my old scrapbooks. It felt like the right thing to do. I needed to remind myself. I wanted to remember how it was, how it felt, all those years ago.

It had been nearly a week since I dragged myself out of bed after not having slept, with a hollow pain deep in my gut that I had no explanation for. As it was already late morning, I stumbled onto the computer to check email and twitter, to acquaint myself with the day, and I saw the news that David Bowie had died. That he had, in fact, been battling cancer for 18 months. It didn’t seem real.

It has been a long time since I was a superfan. A very long time. There was disbelief and shock, and it was an odd feeling I had, a vague sense that something huge had been lost, but it felt very far away at first. It was perhaps a blessing that I had so much work to do, that I could only glance at the outpouring of grief and remembrances. People I hadn’t heard from in years posted things to my Facebook page.

As the days went by, memories started flooding in and I began to remember. I began to feel. A lot.

None of the fans really understood why I stopped publishing my little Bowie newsletter and sold my collection, after being so devoted for 10 years. In my heyday, I followed tours, attended many, many shows, met fans and former associates and bought everything in my general vicinity having to do with him. And then I just stopped. For the record, it all got to be too much. Not the artist, nor his wonderful music, but everything else that madly swirled around him. All that other “stuff” got in the way of the art and kept me from enjoying it all purely, as I once had. But I never stopped being a fan.

London Press Conference, 1990

London Press Conference, 1990

From the moment I was introduced to Bowie’s music by a boy I met at a technical school we were both attending, I was entranced. It was just before Let’s Dance came out, and I gravitated toward the Low/Heroes/Lodger trilogy — especially Low. There was something about that sense of isolation, the alienation, the continuous searching, the yearning, the endless endeavors and failings, not feeling quite right in one’s own skin, that I immediately identified with. I’ve always felt different from the mainstream, apart from others, and Bowie bestowed his blessing on all of us who were trying to forge our own way alone, through uncharted lands. He was a shining beacon, a knowledgeable guide, a mystical sherpa. As he proclaimed in “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide,” “And you’re not alone, let’s turn on and be not alone, give me your hands, ’cause you’re wonderful, oh give me your hands!”

The first concerts I saw were his two shows in Hartford, Connecticut, during the Serious Moonlight Tour in 1983. His Let’s Dance album wasn’t a particular favorite, but that just happened to be my timing. Other albums that hold a special place in my heart, then and forever, are the Space Oddity album (Man of Words, Man of Music), The Man Who Sold The World and Hunky Dory. Plus the very early song, “Conversation Piece.” So many of those songs, I felt, he was singing just to me. He understood. He was a kindred spirit.

The Bowie Room, back in the day.

The Bowie Room, back in the day.

In an almost continuous wave of serendipity, I began meeting fellow fans, collectors, minor legends and all sorts of interesting characters. It was a magical Felliniesque odyssey. Just ahead of his Glass Spider album and tour, I started a Bowie newsletter with legendary Bowie fan Rose Winters (who had collaborated with the equally legendary David Jeffrey Fletcher on “David Robert Jones Bowie: the discography of a generalist, 1962-1979”). Our humble little photocopied newsletter then morphed into Sound & Vision, which for a short while was printed on colored paper to thwart extensive copying among non-subscribers but which never worked. Ah, those quaint pre-Internet days. And the concerts — oh god, the concerts! From arenas across the U.S. starting in 1983 to massive festival crowds in 1987, mostly outdoors, in Rotterdam, Belgium, Germany, Italy, England, Sweden, Austria, France, Spain. Exciting exclusive press conferences on both sides of the pond. A scrappy Tin Machine show at a dodgy club called The World on the Lower East Side and a later one on their next tour at the intimate and wonderful Toad’s Place in New Haven. An improbable “Sound & Vision Fan Convention” in L.A., loosely based around a Tin Machine live taping at LAX for an “In Concert” TV broadcast. Nutty adventures with friends in a kaleidoscope of cities. Corresponding with and trading with fans all over the world. The memories (and half dozen scrapbooks) I’ve saved are just as much of the interesting people I’ve met as they are of the man’s music, all part of the same glorious experience.

Newsletters_2000

It’s a few weeks after his passing now, with so many articles and tributes talking about the music, the art, the movies, the fashion, the sense of oneself as a unique individual, fearlessly sharing your gifts with the world. That last one is perhaps the most valuable for me personally, as I wrestle with an endless parade of mid-life crises that I’ve been struggling with since age 15. So yes, this is mostly about me, just as writing about Bowie, for anyone, turns out to be just as much about the observer as it is the observed. The message and the messenger and all that. The message, of course, is to celebrate your uniqueness, however odd you may be to yourself and others, and to value that uniqueness in others, without casting judgement. And that’s one hell of a legacy.

From The Archives

‘Early On’ (Rhino Records) Liner Notes

Early On liner notes (Rhino Records)

Early On liner notes (Rhino Records)

liner notes #1

liner notes #1

liner notes #2

liner notes #2


liner notes #3

liner notes #3

liner notes 4

liner notes 4

liner notes #5

liner notes #5


Sound & Vision Newsletter Excerpts

Mick Rock Interview, Issue #14 Oct/Nov 1988

Mick Rock Interview, Issue #14 Oct/Nov 1988

Mick Rock int. #2

Mick Rock int. #2

Mick Rock int. #3

Mick Rock int. #3


Jeff Rougvie Interview (Rykodisc), Issue #20 Summer 1989

Jeff Rougvie Interview (Rykodisc), Issue #20 Summer 1989

Jeff Rougvie int. #2

Jeff Rougvie int. #2

Jeff Rougvie int. #3

Jeff Rougvie int. #3


Jeff Rougvie int. #4

Jeff Rougvie int. #4

Sound + Vision Review, Issue #20 Summer 1989

Sound + Vision Review, Issue #20 Summer 1989

Sound + Vision Review #2

Sound + Vision Review #2


1990 London Press Conference - Issue #23 Jan/Feb 1990

1990 London Press Conference - Issue #23 Jan/Feb 1990

London Press Conf - 2

London Press Conf - 2

London Press Conf - 3

London Press Conf - 3


London Press Conf - 4

London Press Conf - 4

London Press Conf - 5

London Press Conf - 5


A Sampling of the 1987 European Road Trip




share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Rest In Peace, David

from a 1987 press conference at the Cat Club in New York City

from a 1987 press conference at the Cat Club in New York City

I can’t believe that just a few days after celebrating the birthday of this extraordinary artist and heralding an amazing new album, that we’re now mourning his death. My heartfelt love and appreciation to David Bowie, and my sincere condolences to his family, friends and fellow fans. I’m in absolute shock about this (I wasn’t even aware he had been fighting cancer for 18 months), so for now, I’ll just toss up a quick video of my favorite Bowie song. I wish I had videos of my own, but my time with him was pre-YouTube and pre-any kind of video camera that wasn’t the size of a toaster. I have decided to attempt to digitize what I do have, which are my 40 Bowie Bits/Sound & Vision newsletters from 1987-1992 and a bunch of my live recordings (that is, if the oxide hasn’t come off the cassette tapes). We all thank you, David, for everything.

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Happy 69th Birthday, David Bowie, and Thank You for the Present!

Haunting, mysterious, complicated, intense. And I base this only on the title track to ★ (otherwise known as Blackstar), David Bowie’s new musical offering to Planet Earth, which drops today. It also marks the man’s 69th birthday, and it is his present to us.

Tonight I will listen to the album in its entirety, wrapped in a dark shroud and quite possibly recapturing the feelings I had for this brilliant artist nearly 30 years ago when he was my entire world. For now though, join me in a little taste and celebrate his considerable influence on the musical landscape and our glorious and terrible culture, as he continues, as he always has, to hold a mirror up to show us its strange reflection.



web | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The Next Day: David Bowie’s State of the World Address

[an abridged version is up on Ryan’s Smashing Life]

What is most compelling about David Bowie’s first studio album in a decade, The Next Day, is not the brilliance of this album, but the brilliance of the timing of this album. A key part of Bowie’s genius, from his earliest incarnations to the present day, is his uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time—with the right musical statement. He has always been the man of the hour, whatever the hour happens to be.

For the past 10 years, our Chief Observer who was always there, holding up a mirror to our hopes and dreams, our fears and insecurities, our pop culture and sacred cows, had covered that mirror with a dark shroud and walked away from public life. He went off to live his life, and left us to live ours, unobserved and unrecorded. But it’s 2013, and Bowie’s back. Why now? Maybe it’s because we need him, or because he needs us. Or it’s that all this clutter and confusion, the growing chasm of human experience and sense of alienation feels too important to be just sitting and watching from the sidelines. Perhaps he feels the need to weigh in and shine his light upon this time in our collective history. Maybe it’s less a concern about legacy, and simply an eagerness to join in on the conversation.

Read More

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

New David Bowie video: “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”

After so many years away from the public eye (and so many years after I’ve uttered such a phrase, and not in this digital medium), it feels downright strange to type “here’s a new Bowie video, from his soon-to-be-released album.” But well, here it is. Called “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” it’s both disturbing and hilarious. A man who is happily (boringly?) settled into a comfortable though uneventful life is besieged by fashionably dressed stalkers. Though of course in Bowie’s case, these are fashionista monsters of his own making. His wife is portrayed by Tilda Swinton, and Norwegian model Iselin Steiro does a dead-on reading of a young ‘Thin White Duke.’ Keeping with the whole androgynous theme, models Andrej Pejić and Saskia de Brauw play the stalker couple. Just brilliant.

“Stars are never sleeping / dead ones and the living // We will never be rid of these stars / but I hope they live forever.”

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Happy birthday David Bowie, and a harrowing new song


“Where We Are Now” by David Bowie (the original vimeo wouldn’t let me embed, so thank you SparkyHughes33 on YT)

Happy Birthday, David Bowie. For his 66th birthday, he’s decided to give all of us a surprise present—a brand new song after nearly a decade of musical silence. “Where Are We Now” is a harrowing ‘state of the planet’ assessment, viewed from a place where he probably felt most, if you’ll forgive the New Ageism, “grounded”—his time spent in Berlin in the late 1970s. The song is produced by long-time collaborator Tony Visconti and the video, directed by Tony Oursler, is disturbingly stunning. It features footage from that time, of his old Berlin neighborhood, mixed in with scenes from a cluttered loft, David and an unknown companion in the guise of sad and neglected children’s dolls, and enough cryptic imagery to keep a team of psychoanalysts happily engaged for decades. It’s a beautifully orchestrated, lyrically wistful, piano and strings-driven stroll through a winter forest of melancholia. Welcome back, David.

If this song out of nowhere isn’t enough to leave one breathless, there’s also a new studio album called “The Next Day” (his first since 2003), to be released on March 8 (Australia) and March 12 (U.S.) on Columbia Records. The album will feature 14 songs, and a deluxe edition will include three bonus tracks. No word yet on if there will be any tour. His last stage performance was at a New York charity concert in 2006. In other Bowie news, Victoria and Albert Museum in London will have a major exhibition dedicated to him, which opens on March 23.

This is going to be quite a year.

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Happy Birthday, David Bowie

Yeah, I didn’t quite make it in time; sorry about that. A very happy 65th birthday to Mr. David Bowie, and a little nostalgia below for the old folks. It all seems so long ago… it WAS so long ago! First time I saw Bowie: July 15, 1983, at the Hartford Civic Center. Number of times I’ve seen Bowie: a lot. This very cool video is from his 50th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden, and it features Robert Smith on co-vocals on one of my favorite Bowie songs. Very best wishes, David.

'Lovers' rice paper serigraph, from his Tarot Card series, circa 1975

'Lovers' rice paper serigraph, from his Tarot Card series, circa 1975

'Heroes' Self Portrait print

'Heroes' Self Portrait print

'A Child In Berlin' print, circa 1976

'A Child In Berlin' print, circa 1976


'Save the Children' Self Portrait, for Rykodisc, circa 1990

'Save the Children' Self Portrait, for Rykodisc, circa 1990

The legendary Sound & Vision Newsletter, circa 1990

The legendary Sound & Vision Newsletter, circa 1990


share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Oh! You Pretty Things: A Burlesque/Cabaret Tribute to David Bowie @ Club Oberon *Tonight*

I only just heard about this. There was an “off-Broadway warm-up” at the Rosebud in Somerville this past weekend, and tonight is the full extravaganza at Club Oberon in Harvard Square. It’s “Oh! You Pretty Things: A Burlesque/Cabaret Tribute to David Bowie,” and it features “24 Bowie tunes, from “All the Young Dudes” to “Let’s Dance” redone in energetic lounge style with a 10-piece band and seven scantily clad dancers.”

This event is hosted by Niki Luparelli (“Neo-cabaret vamp, Vaudeville comedienne, pinup model and bleach aficionado,” in her own words). “We’re going to do this until he sues us or comes out of retirement,” Luparelli said before Saturday’s Rosebud show. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door.


share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The Return of The Thin White Duke: Virgin/EMI Issues David Bowie’s Epic “Station To Station” as Remastered Special & Deluxe Editions

bowie_stationtostation-400

Yes, I’m two months late on this, but it’s just in time for your gift-buying consideration. Back in September, one of David Bowie’s most important albums was celebrated in grand fashion with remastered special and deluxe editions by Virgin/EMI. Station To Station is an astonishing album on many levels. As an artist known for his musical departures, this particular one was probably one of the most important, both personally and professionally.

Read More

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén