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Bowie in French TV show, “Taratata” in 1995

This full-length video of Bowie’s appearance on the French show, Taratata, is as clear as YouTube videos get, both audibly and visually. It contains Bowie and his 1995 band performing “The Voyer of Utter Destruction as Beauty,” “The Man Who Sold the World,” “Hallo Spaceboy,” “Strangers When We Meet” and “Under Pressure” (with Gail Ann Dorsey singing the Freddie Mercury part). These are unique live performances in the style Bowie was performing them during his tour at the time. Between the songs are extended interviews during which Bowie discusses his creative process and future plans. The only problem? The interviewer speaks French. Fortunately for those of us who don’t speak French, Bowie answers the questions in English. I’m not sure if he understood the questions well enough to answer them, if he was having them translated in real time or if he was given the questions ahead of time, but if you can sit through hearing questions asked in a language you don’t understand, the answers are interesting and the musical performances are terrific.

Bowie mentions several future plans that never came to pass— a series of albums to follow up 1. Outside, a theatrical adaptation of the Nathan Adler story that begins with 1. Outside (Bowie claims not to know how the story would end), and a new collaboration with Iggy Pop. Bowie also made reference to releasing something called, Inside Outside, which I’m pretty sure appears on YouTube as the Leon Suites. If we’re talking about the same thing, The Leon Suites are extended pieces of experimental music from which the ultimate 1. Outside album emerged. Though there are moments of overlap, especially around what appear on 1. Outside as segues, the Leon Suites are very different. There’s more than an album’s worth of music out there and despite what Bowie says in this interview, I’m pretty sure it never got released as an album. To me, it’s the Bowie’s most significant unreleased work. But he just hints at it here.

Another amusing segment of this show is a compilation of “men on the street” (including women) singing “Blue Jean” while Bowie watches from the studio. It’s actually a lot of fun and shows the joy brought by Bowie’s music at a time he was promoting music that was anything but joyful. “Blue Jean” was an interesting selection because it was diametrically different than the ominous sounds of 1. Outside and the older songs he was performing on stage at the time (he discusses those songs, saying that they wouldn’t include the likes of “Heroes” or “China Girl,” would be familiar to those who knew his albums but somewhat obscure and would fit with the tone of his newer pieces). I was impressed that people on the street knew the lyrics to “Blue Jean” (maybe they were helped?) and that this was the song used for the segment is added evidence that the album Tonight had a bigger impact than it gets credit for these days.

Anyway, if you can make your way through the French, this is worth watching, or at least listening to.

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