One of my main goals on Record Store Day on April 22nd was to obtain a copy of the David Bowie album ‘Cracked Actor’. Thankfully, I succeeded. It fast became one of my favorite LPs I have in my ever growing collection.
The year was 1974, David Bowie was king and touring supporting the Diamond Dog album. The album was recorded live at Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles on September 5th, 1974. The Theatre only sat around 5,000 so it was a nice intimate setting and quite small to what David was able to fill later in his career.
Let’s first talk about the packaging of the record. It is a very nice, high quality, high glossed album cover. So high glossed, I couldn’t avoid being seen in the cover as I was taking pictures. I tried so many angles.
There is now way I could review each and every song as their are 19 songs on the 3 LPs. Plus, these are all classic Bowie songs and is there any reason to rehash how great they are…I doubt I could add anything of value.
Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)
All The Young Dudes
Rock ‘n’ Roll With Me
Knock On Wood
It’s Gonna Be Me
The Jean Genie
Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide
John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)
David Bowie logo etching (hard to see in the picture, but best I could get)
The overall sound of the album is great. David’s voice is front & center, of course. At times the album’s ambience felt like a small & intimate Jazz Club. The saxophone, piano and the jazz guitar sounds enriched the songs and added texture to bring them a new life. “Changes” is definitely one they turned into a more Jazzy number as well as “Rock ‘N’ Roll With Me” and “The Jean Genie”.
Some standouts for me were “Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)” and most definitely “Cracked Actor” with the rocking guitar. It was great to hear along “Diamond Dogs” live as well as “Time” and they both showcase the other standout which is the band. His musicians are a group of significantly talented individuals that as a whole bring together a spectacular musical experience. We will talk more about them later. The song ended with a new song at the time, “John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)” which I think was the most lively song in the whole show and a great way to end the show.
Visually I am sure was spectacular to watch, but sonically it was so engrossing and your ears discovered what pure genius Bowie songs were. I could turn the lights down, close my eyes and feel like I was in the same room enjoying the show. I don’t know if they edited out any dialogue Bowie had with the audience because the album was one song after another with no back and forth with the audience until he introduces the band before the final track. A straight up rock show or how ever you would define a Bowie concert as his music is so eclectic.
The album is quite different than Bowie’s David Live album from the same year. It features several different tracks and some were brand new songs as well as a new band line-up. So let’s talk about the awesome band line-up he had for this show. I think you will recognize a few names.
David Bowie – vocals, guitar, harmonica
Earl Slick – guitar
Carlos Alomar – guitar (He has played on more Bowie albums than any other musician)
Mike Garson – piano, Mellotron
David Sanborn – alto sax, flute
Pablo Rosario – conga
Doug Rauch – bass (played with Carlos Santana)
Greg Errico – drums (drummer for Sly & the Family Stone)
Backing vocals – Warren Peace, Anthony Hinton, Luther Vandross, Ava Cherry, Diane Sumler and Robin Clark.
Earl Slick was a bad ass guitarist and most notably for me from the 80’s band Phantom, Rocker & Slick.
David Sanborn – He was only one of the greatest, most popular jazz saxophonist to ever come around. If you want to get a taste, try out his greatest hits album (anyone of them).
And then we have a little singer named Luther Vandross. Too bad he never amounted to anything…ha, ha, ha. What a voice this man had. He has been sadly missed since his untimely death in 2005.
Take the whole picture into account and you have an amazing live album and album package. It is something I will cherish for a long time to come and I can see myself revisiting this release quite often. ‘Cracked Actor’ is great way to remember what was so special about the talented David Bowie. May he rest in peace!!