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David Bowie | Storytellers

Virgin (2009)
By JEFF TAMARKIN  |  July 7, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

Bowie was particularly relaxed and reflective when he took his star turn on VH1's Storytellers program 10 years ago next month. As the program's format demanded, he preceded each number — a couple of classics, some not-so-classics, and a few selections from his then-new Hours — with a tale of its origin.

Then, in front of a Manhattan audience, he launched into a straightforward take backed by a competent if not especially exciting band. Intro'd by Mike Garson's jazzy piano, "China Girl" is ushered in by a recollection of an incident from Bowie's Berlin days with Iggy Pop, when a punk-club audience erected and then tore down its own Berlin Wall. Station to Station's "Word on a Wing" is, its author reveals, "from the darkest days of my life," the mid '70s. And the new "Thursday's Child," Bowie explains, was inspired by his favorite bedtime reading as a teen, singer/actress Eartha Kitt's 1950s autobiography of the same name.

The DVD includes all of the original broadcast and four bonus tracks (minus the gab); the accompanying audio CD omits the extra tunes. Silly, really, because it's difficult to imagine why any but the most obsessed Bowiephile would need to hear the stories more than once, whereas the music on its own is a worthy, though hardly essential, addition to the catalogue.
Related: Photos: 'Seeing Songs' at MFA, Gay old time, After school special, More more >
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