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David Live is David Bowie’s first official live album, originally released by RCA Records in 1974. The album was recorded in July of that year, on the initial leg of Bowie's US Diamond Dogs Tour, at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. (The second leg, a more soul-oriented affair following recording sessions in Philadelphia for the bulk of Young Americans, would be renamed 'Philly Dogs').

The album catches Bowie in transition from the Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane glam-rock era of his career to the 'plastic soul' of Young Americans. While the cover featured a picture of Bowie in his latest soul threads – baggy trouser suit complete with shoulder pads and braces from October 1974 – the music was recorded in July of that year when he was showcasing his two most recent studio albums of original material, Diamond Dogs and Aladdin Sane, as well as selected favourites from Ziggy Stardust and earlier.

The tour was Bowie's most ambitious to date, featuring a giant set designed to evoke "Hunger City", the post-apocalyptic setting for Diamond Dogs, and his largest band, led by Michael Kamen. For "Space Oddity" (recorded at the time but not released until the album's 2005 reissue) Bowie sang using a radio microphone disguised as a telephone whilst being raised and lowered above the stage by a cherry picker crane. The tour was documented in Alan Yentob's Cracked Actor (1975).

Background and recording[]

Capturing the music on tape was itself problematic; most of the backing vocals, as well as the saxophone, needed to be overdubbed in the studio later (a fact noted on the original album sleeve as well as the reissue) because the performers were often off-mike. The Tower Theater concerts also gave rise to a backstage revolt by Bowie's touring band. David Sanborn and Hugh McCracken (who had learned in a conversation with John Venable of The Record Plant Remote that the concerts were being recorded) informed other band members that a non-contractual recording was about to occur. The band confronted Bowie an hour before the first show and refused to take the stage. Venable offered that Record Plant hold the tapes until financial negotiations were settled so the recording could proceed. About twenty minutes before showtime, Bowie agreed that each band member would receive what they judged was a more reasonable $5,000 fee, per member.[2] Several musicians involved in the Tower Theater performance (including Mike Garson and Herbie Flowers) have since remarked that the tension provoked by this confrontation was audible in the stilted performances found on the live album.[citation needed] The Concerts were recorded by Keith Harwood and David Hewitt on the Record Plant NY Remote Truck.[citation needed]

Reception and legacy[]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2/5 starsStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg[3]
Blender2/5 starsStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg[4]
Robert ChristgauC–[5]
Pitchfork Media7.7/10[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 starsStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg[8]

The finished album has been criticised for Bowie’s 'obsessive' rearrangements of the songs and for the strained quality of his vocals.[citation needed] Opinion of the playing is also divided, despite the presence of such acclaimed guests as Michael Kamen, Earl Slick and David Sanborn, as well as Flowers, Mike Garson and Tony Newman from the Diamond Dogs sessions. However some of the interpretations earned praise, such as the upbeat jazz-Latin version of "Aladdin Sane" and the atmospheric instrumental additions to "The Width of a Circle" from The Man Who Sold the World. The record is also notable for including Bowie’s first release of "All the Young Dudes," a song originally given to the band Mott the Hoople for their 1972 album of the same name.

Mick Jagger commented about the album at the time, saying he thought "Knock on Wood" was "awful". Jagger went on to say, "If I got the kind of reviews that he got for that album, I would honestly never record again. Never."[10]

Bowie later commented that "David Live was the final death of Ziggy… And that photo on the cover. My God, it looks like I’ve just stepped out of the grave. That’s actually how I felt. That record should have been called 'David Bowie Is Alive and Well and Living Only in Theory'".[11]

Chart performance[]

David Live made No. 2 on the UK charts (the tour had only visited North America), No. 5 in Canada (where the tour had opened)[12] and No. 8 in the US. "Knock on Wood" was released as a single, reaching No. 10 in the UK. A reissue of the album in 2005 finally included a complete song list from the original concerts plus a new mix by Tony Visconti, said to be an improvement over the fidelity of previous releases.

Track listing[]

All songs written by David Bowie except as noted.

LP: RCA Victor / APL2-0771 (UK)[]

Side one
2."Rebel Rebel"2:42
3."Moonage Daydream"5:10
4."Sweet Thing
  • I. "Sweet Thing"
  • II. "Candidate"
  • III. "Sweet Thing (Reprise)""
Total length:20:01
Side two
6."Suffragette City"3:46
7."Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)"4:58
8."All the Young Dudes" (made famous by Mott the Hoople)4:19
9."Cracked Actor"3:29
Total length:20:08
Side three
10."Rock 'n' Roll with Me"Bowie, Warren Peace (for the music)4:19
11."Watch That Man" 4:23
12."Knock on Wood" (originally by Eddie Floyd)Eddie Floyd, Steve Cropper3:08
13."Diamond Dogs" 6:34
Total length:18:24
Side four
14."Big Brother
  • I. "Big Brother"
  • II. "Chant of the Ever-Circling Skeletal Family""
15."The Width of a Circle"8:14
16."The Jean Genie"5:19
17."Rock 'n' Roll Suicide"4:49
Total length:22:33 (81:06)

Compact disc releases[]

This album has been released on CD twice to date, the first being in 1990 by Rykodisc/EMI (containing two bonus tracks and Bowie’s introduction to the audience of his band) and the second in 2005 by EMI/Virgin containing two additional bonus tracks (though the version of "Panic in Detroit" had previously been released as the B-side to the UK single release of "Knock on Wood", and reissued on the 1982 compilation Rare), a reordering of these and previous bonus tracks into their correct position in the original set list order, and a new mix by Tony Visconti.

1990 Rykodisc/EMI[]

Disc one
1."1984" 3:20
2."Rebel Rebel" 2:40
3."Moonage Daydream" 5:10
4."Sweet Thing
  • I. "Sweet Thing"
  • II. "Candidate"
  • III. "Sweet Thing (Reprise)""
5."Changes" 3:34
6."Suffragette City" 3:45
7."Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)" 4:57
8."All the Young Dudes" (originally by Mott the Hoople) 4:18
9."Cracked Actor" 3:29
10."Rock 'n' Roll with Me"Bowie, Peace (for the music)4:18
11."Watch That Man" 4:55
Disc two
1."Knock on Wood" (originally by Eddie Floyd)Floyd, Cropper3:08
2."Diamond Dogs" 6:32
3."Big Brother
  • I. "Big Brother"
  • II. "Chant of the Ever-Circling Skeletal Family""
4."The Width of a Circle" 8:12
5."The Jean Genie" 5:13
6."Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" 4:30
7."Band Intro" (Bonus track) 0:09
8."Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" (originally by Ohio Players)Leroy Bonner, Joe Harris, Marshall Jones, Ralph Middlebrooks, Dutch Robinson, Clarence Satchell, Gary Webster3:32
9."Time" 5:19

2005 EMI/Virgin[]

Disc one
1."1984" 3:20
2."Rebel Rebel" 2:40
3."Moonage Daydream" 5:10
4."Sweet Thing
  • I. "Sweet Thing"
  • II. "Candidate"
  • III. "Sweet Thing (Reprise)""
5."Changes" 3:34
6."Suffragette City" 3:45
7."Aladdin Sane" 4:57
8."All the Young Dudes" 4:18
9."Cracked Actor" 3:29
10."Rock 'n' Roll with Me"Bowie, Peace (for the music)4:18
11."Watch That Man" 4:55
Disc two
1."Knock on Wood" (originally by Eddie Floyd)Floyd, Cropper3:08
2."Here Today, Gone Tomorrow"Bonner, Harris, Jones, Middlebrooks, Robinson, Satchell, Webster3:32
3."Space Oddity" (Bonus track) 6:27
4."Diamond Dogs" 6:32
5."Panic in Detroit" (Bonus track) 5:41
6."Big Brother
  • I. "Big Brother"
  • II. "Chant of the Ever-Circling Skeletal Family""
7."Time" 5:19
8."The Width of a Circle" 8:12
9."The Jean Genie" 5:13
10."Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" 4:30
11."Band Intro" 0:09

Rock Concert/David Bowie at the Tower Philadelphia[]

A cut-down version of David Live called Rock Concert was released as a single disc by RCA in the Netherlands in 1979. In 1982 it was again released in the Netherlands as David Bowie at the Tower Philadelphia.

1."Rebel Rebel"2:40
3."Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)"4:57
4."All the Young Dudes" (originally recorded by Mott the Hoople)4:18
5."Cracked Actor"3:29
6."Rock 'n' Roll With Me" (Bowie, Peace (for the music))4:18
7."Watch That Man"4:55
8."Diamond Dogs"6:32
9."Rock 'n' Roll Suicide"4:30


  • David Bowie – vocals
  • Earl Slick – guitar
  • Herbie Flowers – bass
  • Michael Kamenelectric piano, Moog, oboe, arrangements
  • Tony Newman – drums
  • Pablo Rosario – percussion
  • David Sanbornalto sax, flute
  • Richard Grando – baritone sax, flute
  • Mike Garson – piano, Mellotron
  • Gui Andrisano – backing vocals
  • Warren Peace – backing vocals



Year Chart Position
1974 UK Albums Chart 2
1974 Canadian RPM 100 Top Albums Chart 5
1974 US Billboard Pop Albums 8
1974 Norway's album chart 12


Year Single Chart Position
1975 "Knock on Wood" UK Singles Chart 10
1975 "Knock on Wood" Norway's single chart 10


Organization Level Date
RIAA – USA Gold 7 November 1974 (1974-11-07)


  1. David Live: David Bowie: MP3 Downloads
  2. Edwards, Henry; Zanetta, Tony (1986), Stardust: The David Bowie Story, ISBN 0-07-072797-X
  4. "David Live – Blender". Blender. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  5. Christgau, Robert (5 August 1976). "CG: david bowie". Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  6. Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 151. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: David Bowie: David Live / Stage". Pitchfork Media. 20 September 2005. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  8. "David Bowie: Album Guide". Archived from the original on 30 May 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  9. Griffiths, Nick (November 1990). "Diamond Jubilation". Select. p. 124.
  10. The Rolling Stones - Off The Record by Mark Paytress, Omnibus Press, 2005, page 245. ISBN 1-84449-641-4
  11. A reference to Jacques Brel, some of whose songs Bowie had covered, and his revue Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
  12. "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 26 April 2011.


  • Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record
  • David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story
  • Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie

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