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Grading the Live Albums

A+

  • Santa Monica ‘72.  This is the only live album on which Bowie sounds like the Bowie of the early 70s.  Very energetic.

A

  • A Reality Tour ‘2003.  This covers the widest sweep of Bowie’s career.  Joyous.

A-

  • Glass Spider ‘87.  Studio-quality performances, featuring many songs that don’t appear on other live albums.
  • Serious Moonlight ‘83. Among Bowie’s highest quality performances on a live album.
  • Area 2 Festival 2002.  Includes great songs from, “Heathen.”  Sentimental value because I was at the concert!

B+

  • Bowie at the Beeb.  Lots of music including great performances of some of his early-70s songs, but also includes lower quality songs from the 60s.
  • Glastonbury 2000.  Good collection of his greatest hits.
  • Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture ‘73.  Good album, better still as a movie.

B

  • LiveandWell.com ‘95.  This and the following two albums should be a single collection with less duplication.
  • No Trendy Rechauffe ‘95
  • Ouvrez Le Chien ’95
  • Stage ‘78.  Lots of music.  Didn’t need to include an entire album side of instrumentals, though.
  • VH1 Storytellers ‘99. Avuncular acoustic performances.

B-

  • Welcome to the Blackout ‘78.  Excellent song selection, decent but unspectacular performances.
  • David Live ‘74.  The first live album.  Lots of music.  Better than its reputation.
  • Live Nassau Coliseum ‘76.  Another excellent selection of songs performed well but not as good as they could have been.

C+

  • Cracked Actor ‘74.  Some reviewers think of this as the superior alternative to “David Live.”  I think the opposite.
  • Earthling in the City ‘97.  Partial live album, used as a promotional insert in a magazine.  Good luck finding it.
  • Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey Baby ‘92.  Not as bad as you think.
  • The 1980 Floor Show ‘73.  Terrible sound quality.

C

  • Live at Fashion Rocks 2005.  Three-song, downloadable EP.
  • Unplugged and Slightly Phased ‘96.  Why were both performances of the same concert included on the same disc?
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