David Bowie’s cigaretted fingers and bulging silver crotch point the way to the future. This summer sees the fortieth anniversary of the Ziggy Stardust album’s release. The Melody Maker ad above can be found with a wealth of other Ziggy-related material at the very thorough Ziggy Stardust Companion site. For me the definitive artefact isn’t the album itself but DA Pennebaker’s film of the final concert from the 1973 tour; the songs really come alive and Bowie’s performance is overwhelmingly electric. Related: Cracked Actor, the BBC documentary from 1975 about Bowie’s post-Ziggy life on and off the stage.
• The week in books: Amanda Katz described the remarkable history of a single copy of The War of the Worlds by HG Wells then asked “Will Your Children Inherit Your E-Books?” | Bosnian novelist Aleksandar Hemon in The Browser’s FiveBooks interview put Blood Meridian on his list. | “Call me the greatest American novel”: Christopher Buckley on Moby-Dick. | The Brit Lit Map.
• For another anniversary, the Alan Turing centenary, there’s The Strange Life and Death of Dr Turing (part two here) and Breaking the Code (1996), Derek Jacobi playing the tragic genius in a biographical drama.
• Commissioner of Sewers (1991) a William Burroughs documentary by Klaus Maeck in which the author reads some of his work and endures a Q&A session with surprising equanimity.
• Music, flesh and fantasy: When Mati Klarwein’s hyperactive paintings stole the psychedelic show.
• Move Over Casio: Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 Portable Synth Looks Cool, Does Everything.
• A retrospective of art by Madge Gill (1882–1961) at The Nunnery, London.
• “Art is unavoidably work”: Terre Thaemlitz interviewed.
• A trailer for Document: Keiji Haino.
• Pathétique 1 (1994) by Fushitsusha | Pathétique 2 (1994) by Fushitsusha.
2 thoughts on “Weekend links 114”
Isn’t the 5years site amazing! I find the Pennebaker film to be a real disappointment due to its lack of production values; it’s shaky, out of focus and far from the action – and they edited out Jeff Beck and the guitar fellatio. Bowie is spectacular though. We in the US were spoiled by The 1980 Floor Show which aired as part of The Midnight Special, which apparently was never shown in England. It was shot in front of a small audience at the Marquee Club (after Bowie retired Ziggy) Each song had a costume change more fabulous than the last. It is absolutely breathtaking. The close ups of Bowie are Max Factor perfection. I saw it when it aired in November ’73 and then in a repeat in probably January. (pre vcr of course) Then I saw it at the Bowie show at the Museum of Television and Radio (now the Paley Center) in 2002 and it was just as, if not more amazing and fabulous. The youtube clips do not do it justice. I hope it will be released on DVD one day.
I wouldn’t criticise DA Pennebaker for anything, he was only contracted to film a couple of numbers initially, it was his enthusiasm upon seeing the show that made him film the entire concert at very short notice with an impromptu crew. He says on the DVD that Jeff Beck was removed from the film at his (Beck’s) request. So few concerts of that significance were filmed I can happily accept any flaws, especially when the remastered sound is so good.
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