Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Interlude: Bowie with Dick and Cher, 1974/75

1974 and The Dick Cavett Show. 

Bowie swaggers on stage with an orange quiff and DA, wearing what appears to be a brown Balero jacket, and dances like a rubber legged spastic attack throughout 1984, like a drunk man bouncing off hedges as he staggers down the road only just in control of his limbs. The voice is still fine and he exudes confidence, but close ups on his sweaty, skull like face and his half forced shut eyes tell a different story - any brash self-confidence is obviously based on false, coke fuelled self belief, the thinnest layer of ice over the deepest, coldest lake. How the fuck he didn't end up dead is quite miraculous based on this and the interview that follows, which is filled with Bowie misunderstanding and avoiding questions, laughing at the wrong point, wittering about black noise and even getting words wrong, all the while sniffing constantly. Cher wouldn't have touched him with a stick...

Skip forward a year or so to late 1975, and Bowie dueting with mine host on the Cher Show.

They appear, one after the other, head shots floating in clouds of gender specific colour and croak their way through their opening lines.  Cher, in Una Stubbs' stolen hair (possibly literally) and wearing what - in the fuzz of a fiftieth generation tape - appears to be a black kimono, serenades Bowie in grey slacks and blue blazer; he dressed like the secretary of his local bowling club, she like the Oriental trophy bride of some fifties US executive, as they torch at one another in a studio filled with orange smoke.

But above the collar is the all that matters with Bowie, and above his light blue shirt there's the head of a full on degenerate, drops of pale sweat and slicked back dyed blond hair like straw, Draco Malfoy all fucked up but having the time of his life.Bowie has never looked so close to Nosferatu as this.  If Cher, in her Good Life frock and Charlie's Angels bob, values her life she best not get too close, frankly.

Usually the song itself wouldn't matter at all - see the medley with Cher later on in the show for sheer fun where the song is immaterial - but in this case the song is the perfect complement to the murky, dirty visuals; it's that rarest of things, a genuinely sensual performance.

Even in '75 Bowie's still messed up and you doubt he could even see the corner he needs to turn, but rest assured, Berlin's just over there...

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