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David Bowie, AVRO TopPop (October 14th 1977)

October 14th, 2018 | by admin
David Bowie, AVRO TopPop (October 14th 1977)
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Audio:
David Bowie • “Heroes” recorded live on TopPop, October 14th 1977
David Bowie • V-2 Schneider from the album “Heroes”, recorded in August, 1977.

Musicians
David Bowie – vocals, keyboards, guitars, saxophone, tambourine
Brian Eno – synthesizers, keyboards, guitar treatments
Robert Fripp – lead guitar
Carlos Alomar – rhythm guitar
George Murray – bass guitar
Dennis Davis – drums, percussion
Tony Visconti – percussion, backing vocals

Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti

Video:
AVRO TopPop outtakes • October 14th 1977
Silent Super8 Reel • Unknown source • October 14th 1977
AVRO TopPop broadcast • November 12th 1977

The material for Bowie’s album “Heroes” was recorded and mixed quickly in August ’77. In early September, just prior to the release of the “Heroes” single, Bowie commenced a short promotional tour, recording TV shows and the “Heroes” video.

The recording dates of the tour were:

September 7th • UK • The Marc Show
September 11th • UK • Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas TV Special
September 27th • UK • “Heroes” video shoot
October 1st • Italy • Odeon
October 14th • Holland • TopPop
October 16th • France • Le Rendez-Vous Du Dimanche
October 19th • UK • Top of the Pops

Hmmm, just for one day…

“What a live an bamba yay, when the two sevens clash”; sang Culture in 1976, of the coming chaos that Rastafarian prophet Marcus Garvey had predicted for 1977. In Bowie’s ’76, he sang of his return to Europe. After seeing himself on the big screen that year, as Nic Roeg’s alien having an existential crisis, he desperately needed to fall to earth.

Ad Visser: How are things?
Bowie: Quiet… good.
Ad Visser: You’re feeling real good?
Bowie: Yeah, terrific… very European.
Ad Visser: Very European?
Bowie: Yeah.

Was 1977 chaotic for Bowie? It was certainly prolific and pivotal year, with the release of four brilliant albums, two of his own and the two with Iggy Pop. And the “Heroes” album was the final wild burst of that ’77 creativity. Over forty years later, it still sounds to me like the jagged and jarring masterpiece of alternative rock that it was immediately hailed as, when it was released in October that year. However, these days I note on Bowie social media fan-pages, that “Heroes” never scores highly on “Favourite Bowie Album” polls. One such on Bowie KOOKS yesterday reflects this, with “Heroes” receiving only about 10% of the votes of the highest scoring albums. In my opinion, “Heroes” is one of Bowie’s finest creations. It’s no wonder to me he was so uncharacteristically enthusiastic to promote it.

So this is a video to honour “Heroes” and to give us a snapshot of one of Bowie’s busy day’s in Europe that year, specifically a few hours from the day that brilliant album was released in October ’77.

“Surprise! Surprise! within two weeks your new LP, “Heroes”, reached Gold in Holland!”, claims TopPop host Ad Visser, as he hands Bowie a second gold disc. This is a contrivance because “Heroes” had literally just been released that day. It is possible that pre-sale figures of the album were already logged as Gold, but I guess the producers of the show were thinking ahead to the broadcast date, almost a month away.

This video is made up of many different sources. Even the stunning “Heroes” clip is made up of about 5 different versions, including one with a longer outro than was originally broadcast, where Bowie continues to sing acapella after the backing track fades out. It is very fortunate that so much material is available from that day, including about ten minutes of outtakes footage that by some miracle has survived the decades. The many sources I have used do vary in quality, which limited what was possible. I’ve compiled the best of it, omitting parts that don’t offer much of interest, or are of too poor quality. And I’ve livened up the mostly just visual material of the final photo shoot, by cutting it to some music.

There’s also a beautiful back-story to that day. A couple of young fans and their mother were present at the studio. Towards the end of the shoot they meet Bowie and present him with a copy of Alessandra Cominibook’s 1976 book of paintings and photos of the artist Egon Schiele. “For your movie”, the boys tell Bowie, and their mother adds it was the boy’s father who put the book out. At that time, there were plans for Bowie to play Schiele in a film, directed by Clive Denner with Charlotte Rampling co-starring. It was a project that never happened. Bowie is evidently well pleased with the book. And one of the sources of material from the show is the 8mm silent footage shot by the boys’ mother of their day at the TV studio, meeting Bowie, and then later at home showing off their collection of Bowie records.

More videos to follow, so please keep your electric eye on me babe!

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