Even without Bowie doing any press (outside of music videos) so far this year, following the surprise release of The Next Day, there continue to be exciting events stirring up enthusiasm for the artist. In London, there is the Victoria & Albert Museum’s ‘curated retrospective’ featuring hundreds of objects of Bowie memorabilia and running till August before traveling elsewhere. In New York, Bowie fans have turned out for unique Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) events to experience Brian Eno’s ‘77 Million Paintings’ multi-sensory exhibit and to hear him talk about his career. The RBMA also partnered with something called Classic Album Sundays to gather Ken Scott, Tony Visconti, and Nile Rodgers for separate discussions about their production work on classic Bowie albums, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Heroes and Let’s Dance respectively.
Even a non- or minor- Bowie fan would have found these discussions interesting and entertaining. Each producer provided insight into the production of the album and studio sessions from a period where cameras and photos weren’t around to document everything. Visconti described the process of setting up the last vocal track for the song “Heroes” with three microphones, at varying distances, that were gated—so that an additional mike would open as Bowie’s volume got louder. This resulted in some of the distortion heard near the end. Plus musical elements from the tracks were played, as Scott and Visconti played pieces of songs via their laptops and Rodgers (supposedly as I didn’t attend this one) incorporated his guitar into the production demonstration. Surprisingly (for someone who had never been to an event like this), following the discussions there was a listening session for each album. Each album was played on vinyl through some of the highest fidelity equipment possible. I don’t remember the last time I sat in a room with 100 or so people and listened to an album straight through (okay, I probably have never done that). It was a unique experience that seems the norm for Classic Album Sundays events. Aside from some photos below, there is a clip of Rodgers speaking at a different event and the new Bowie music video for your viewing pleasure PLUS click this link for video from Brian Eno’s ‘Illustrated Talk’ that was also part of the RBMA series.