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David Bowie|The Width Of A Circle

The Width Of A Circle

David Bowie

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The Man Who Sold the World is either seen as the end of Bowie's formative era or the genesis of his evolution as a truly unique artist. While 1971's Hunky Dory is widely regarded as the first "classic" album in Bowie's catalog, the years leading up to it were so incredibly busy and productive for the musician, with moments of occasional greatness ("Space Oddity") occuring within a much larger batch of quite ordinary material. Between 1968 and 1970, Bowie would try out various permutations of baroque, acoustic pop and gloomy, semi-psychedelic hard rock, and by the time he presented the Metrobolist album to his record label (which then proceeded to change the title to The Man Who Sold the World, much to his chagrin), he had run himself ragged on the treadmill of promotional appearances, concerts, and traditional press interviews. Bowie was frustrated with his management, his label, his producer, and his creative output, and was ready for a change. Hunky Dory was absolutely that change, but the roots of that growth could definitely be heard on The Man Who Sold the World. Leaning hard into his rockist tendencies, the album was dark and heavy and decidedly devoid of the glam bounce that elevated similarly electrified later albums. Nobody dug it and despite early attempts by Bowie to promote it, the album was a commercial flop in the US and UK. Many of those attempts—primarily radio performances—are collated on The Width of a Circle.

Appropriately dubbed as "complementary" to the recently revised version of The Man Who Sold the World (reissued under its original Metrobolist title), The Width of a Circle feels like a bit of a stretch as a standalone piece, rather than as, say, an additional couple of discs included in some super deluxe edition. Along with the radio sessions (many of which have been previously released on Bowie at the Beeb and elsewhere), there are a few single cuts and other ephemera; the material here feels more like it's been excavated rather than curated. A largely acoustic Bowie radio concert presented with middling fidelity takes up the first half of the set, and while it's great to hear a little awkward banter between Bowie and John Peel alongside some unique performances of songs that rarely made concert setlists, the audio issues and tape dropouts can be quite distracting. Things pick up in the second half with a clutch of quirky (and slightly better sounding) songs recorded for a radio play. One of those songs—"Threepenny Pierrot"—is a rewritten version of "London Bye, Ta Ta," one of the best unreleased Bowie songs from this era. It shows up here in three studio versions and all of them sound great. Beyond those highlights, this is very much a completists-only sort of release, both due to the wobbly audio quality on some of the tracks as well as the material itself. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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The Width Of A Circle

David Bowie

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1
Amsterdam (BBC Live Session)
00:03:31

Mort Shuman, Writer - Jacques Brel, Writer - Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

2
God Know's I'm Good (BBC Live Session)
00:03:35

Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

3
Buzz The Fuzz (BBC Live Session)
00:03:27

Biff Rose, Writer - Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

4
Karma Man (BBC Live Session)
00:04:10

Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

5
London Bye, Ta-Ta (BBC Live Session)
00:03:21

Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - John Cambridge, Drums - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

6
An Occasional Dream (BBC Live Session)
00:03:23

Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - John Cambridge, Drums - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

7
The Width Of A Circle (BBC Live Session)
00:05:54

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - John Cambridge, Drums - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

8
Janine (BBC Live Session)
00:04:01

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - John Cambridge, Drums - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

9
The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud (BBC Live Session)
00:04:42

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - John Cambridge, Drums - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

10
Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed (BBC Live Session)
00:06:27

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - John Cambridge, Drums - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

11
Fill Your Heart (BBC Live Session)
00:03:10

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Biff Rose, Writer - Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - Paul Williams, Writer - John Cambridge, Drums - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

12
The Prettiest Star (BBC Live Session)
00:03:18

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - John Cambridge, Drums - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

13
Cygnet Committee (BBC Live Session)
00:09:18

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - John Cambridge, Drums - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

14
Memory Of A Free Festival (BBC Live Session)
00:03:42

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Jeff Griffin, Producer - Tony Wilson, Sound Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - John Cambridge, Drums - Chris Lycett, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

DISC 2

1
When I Live My Dream
00:03:37

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Additional Masterer - John Webber, Masterer - Michael Garrett, Organ

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2021 STV

2
Columbine
00:01:34

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Additional Masterer - John Webber, Masterer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2021 STV

3
Harlequin (aka The Mirror)
00:01:28

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Additional Masterer - John Webber, Masterer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2021 STV

4
Threepenny Pierrot
00:01:57

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Michael Garrett, Piano

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2021 STV

5
When I Live My Dream (Reprise)
00:01:55

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Michael Garrett, Piano

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2021 STV

6
The Prettiest Star (Alternative Mix)
00:03:10

Lesley Duncan, Backing Vocals - MARC BOLAN, Electric Guitar - Rick Wakeman, Organ, Celeste Piano - David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Arranger, Bass - Godfrey McLean, Drums - Sue Glover, Backing Vocals - Sunny Leslie, Backing Vocals - Unknown Session Orchestra, Orchestra

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited, ℗ 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC

7
London Bye, Ta Ta (2021 Remaster)
00:02:40

Lesley Duncan, Backing Vocals - MARC BOLAN, Electric Guitar - Rick Wakeman, Piano - David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Arranger, Bass Guitar, Additional Masterer - John Webber, Masterer - Godfrey McLean, Drums, Bongo Drums, Tambourine - Sue Glover, Backing Vocals - Sunny Leslie, Backing Vocals - Unknown Session Orchestra, Orchestra

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited, ℗ 1989, 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC

8
London Bye, Ta Ta (1970 Stereo Mix; 2021 Remaster)
00:02:39

Lesley Duncan, Backing Vocals - MARC BOLAN, Electric Guitar - Rick Wakeman, Piano - David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Arranger, Bass Guitar, Additional Masterer - John Webber, Masterer - Godfrey McLean, Drums, Bongo Drums, Tambourine - Sue Glover, Backing Vocals - Sunny Leslie, Backing Vocals - Unknown Session Orchestra, Orchestra

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited, ℗ 2003, 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC

9
Memory of a Free Festival (Pt. 1) (2015 Remaster)
00:04:03

Mick Ronson, Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals - David Bowie, Organ, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Bass Guitar, Additional Masterer - John Cambridge, Drums - John Webber, Masterer - Ralph Mace, Moog

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2015 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

10
Memory of a Free Festival (Pt. 2) (2015 Remaster)
00:03:34

Mick Ronson, Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals - David Bowie, Organ, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Bass Guitar, Additional Masterer - John Cambridge, Drums - John Webber, Masterer - Ralph Mace, Moog

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2015 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

11
Holy Holy (Mono; 2015 Remaster)
00:03:13

Barry Morgan, Drums - Herbie Flowers, Producer, Bass - Unknown, Backing Vocals - David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Additional Masterer - ALAN PARKER, Electric Guitar - John Webber, Masterer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2015 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

12
Waiting For The Man (Sounds Of The 70s: Andy Ferris)
00:05:43

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Lou Reed, Writer - Bernie Andrews, Producer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - Nick Gomm, Engineer - John Cambridge, Drums

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

13
The Width Of A Circle (Sounds Of The 70s: Andy Ferris)
00:05:38

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Bernie Andrews, Producer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - Nick Gomm, Engineer - John Cambridge, Drums

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

14
The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud (Sounds Of The 70s: Andy Ferris)
00:04:45

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Bernie Andrews, Producer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - Nick Gomm, Engineer - John Cambridge, Drums

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

15
The Supermen (Sounds Of The 70s: Andy Ferris)
00:03:21

Mick Ronson, Guitar - Bernie Andrews, Producer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Bass - Nick Gomm, Engineer - John Cambridge, Drums

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970 BBC

16
The Prettiest Star (2020 Mix)
00:03:34

Lesley Duncan, Backing Vocals - MARC BOLAN, Electric Guitar - Rick Wakeman, Organ, Celeste Piano - David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Arranger, Bass - Godfrey McLean, Drums - Sue Glover, Backing Vocals - Sunny Leslie, Backing Vocals - Unknown Session Orchestra, Orchestra

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited, ℗ 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC

17
London Bye, Ta-Ta (2020 Mix)
00:02:42

Lesley Duncan, Backing Vocals - MARC BOLAN, Electric Guitar - Rick Wakeman, Piano - David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Mixer, Arranger, Bass Guitar - Godfrey McLean, Drums, Bongo Drums, Tambourine - Sue Glover, Backing Vocals - Sunny Leslie, Backing Vocals - Unknown Session Orchestra, Orchestra

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited, ℗ 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC

18
Memory Of A Free Festival (Single Version; 2020 Mix)
00:05:23

Mick Ronson, Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals - David Bowie, Organ, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Bass Guitar - John Cambridge, Drums - Ralph Mace, Moog

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited, ℗ 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC

19
All The Madmen (Single Edit; 2020 Mix)
00:03:27

Mick Ronson, Electric Guitar, Recorder, Vocals, Moog - David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist, Additional Vocal Effects Vocals - Tony Visconti, Producer, Recorder, Bass - Ken Scott, Mixer, Engineer - Mick Woodmansey, Drums - Gerald Chevin, Engineer

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited, ℗ 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC

20
Holy Holy (2020 Mix)
00:03:28

Barry Morgan, Drums - Herbie Flowers, Producer, Bass - Unknown, Backing Vocals - David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - ALAN PARKER, Electric Guitar

© 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited, ℗ 2021 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC

Album Description

The Man Who Sold the World is either seen as the end of Bowie's formative era or the genesis of his evolution as a truly unique artist. While 1971's Hunky Dory is widely regarded as the first "classic" album in Bowie's catalog, the years leading up to it were so incredibly busy and productive for the musician, with moments of occasional greatness ("Space Oddity") occuring within a much larger batch of quite ordinary material. Between 1968 and 1970, Bowie would try out various permutations of baroque, acoustic pop and gloomy, semi-psychedelic hard rock, and by the time he presented the Metrobolist album to his record label (which then proceeded to change the title to The Man Who Sold the World, much to his chagrin), he had run himself ragged on the treadmill of promotional appearances, concerts, and traditional press interviews. Bowie was frustrated with his management, his label, his producer, and his creative output, and was ready for a change. Hunky Dory was absolutely that change, but the roots of that growth could definitely be heard on The Man Who Sold the World. Leaning hard into his rockist tendencies, the album was dark and heavy and decidedly devoid of the glam bounce that elevated similarly electrified later albums. Nobody dug it and despite early attempts by Bowie to promote it, the album was a commercial flop in the US and UK. Many of those attempts—primarily radio performances—are collated on The Width of a Circle.

Appropriately dubbed as "complementary" to the recently revised version of The Man Who Sold the World (reissued under its original Metrobolist title), The Width of a Circle feels like a bit of a stretch as a standalone piece, rather than as, say, an additional couple of discs included in some super deluxe edition. Along with the radio sessions (many of which have been previously released on Bowie at the Beeb and elsewhere), there are a few single cuts and other ephemera; the material here feels more like it's been excavated rather than curated. A largely acoustic Bowie radio concert presented with middling fidelity takes up the first half of the set, and while it's great to hear a little awkward banter between Bowie and John Peel alongside some unique performances of songs that rarely made concert setlists, the audio issues and tape dropouts can be quite distracting. Things pick up in the second half with a clutch of quirky (and slightly better sounding) songs recorded for a radio play. One of those songs—"Threepenny Pierrot"—is a rewritten version of "London Bye, Ta Ta," one of the best unreleased Bowie songs from this era. It shows up here in three studio versions and all of them sound great. Beyond those highlights, this is very much a completists-only sort of release, both due to the wobbly audio quality on some of the tracks as well as the material itself. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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