The Axeman Cometh [DB]

Bowie and Ronson sessions at West London + rehearsals and TV shows 1972 to 1973

Many collectors regard this as another of those now-largely redundant collections dedicated in the main to Bowie’s early 1970s BBC vault, with the emphasis on the Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust era material, as opposed to the arguably more interesting (and, in parts, rarer) earlier sessions. But if you haven’t picked up any other Bowie Beeb discs, this is an excellent sampler, picking up some of the most devastating performances in that canon, before meandering onto various other sources in search of period nuggets.

These include an acetate demo for the Hunky Dory outtake "Bombers"; the Old Grey Whistle Test take on "Queen Bitch," complete with false start; the Russell Harty Plus premiere of "Drive In Saturday"; the super-punchy single mix of "Rebel Rebel"; and, as if seeking to justify the collection’s title, the unmixed version of "Moonage Daydream" from Ziggy’s 1973 farewell show. For the official release, Bowie swamped Mick Ronson’s guitar solo with backing vocals, horns, and anything else he could sling at it. Go back to the original US TV airing of the concert, however, and it was Ronno all the way, and this is what we get here. The Axeman did indeed cometh. - Dave Thompson

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