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Site Maintenance: “The Jean Genie” performed on Top of the Pops, 1973

One of my favorite Bowie songs, “The Jean Genie” is also one of Bowie’s best known and one he performed throughout his career.  The song was released as a single in 1972 before appearing on the “Aladdin Sane” in 1973.  It was originally promoted by a somewhat well-known video, which is what was attached to my original commentary from 2016.  For whatever reason these things go down, this one went down and if you go back to that earlier commentary I’ve replaced the video (fortunately, its still the original promotional video).  Along the way I found this one, which was from a 1973 appearance on the British show, “Top of the Pops.”  As you’ll see in the video, this footage was lost for years until the cameraman found a copy in 2011.  The “fisheye lens” technique was new at the time and helps establish an appropriately trippy atmosphere for the song.  I also am struck that Bowie’s performance here is faithful to the studio version, in part because he voice at the time was capable of hitting the high notes.  I hear him articulate the word, “let,” almost as a squeal, which he’d stoop doing in later performances.  As Bowie’s voice deepened, he’d have to rearrange some of his his earlier songs, and this is a good example.  So Bowie was able to adapt his great songs for later stages in his career, but this performance captures the youthful energy of the time.

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