Album release: David Live

David Bowie’s first live album, David Live, was released on 29 October 1974. It captured Bowie during the first phase of the Diamond Dogs Tour, yet was released shortly after he began his Soul Tour in the US.

In the UK, it was initially priced at £3.78 to help its chart placing. The discounted price was retained for two months before it reverted to the standard price of £4.88 for a double album.

David Live peaked at number two in the UK, remaining on the charts for 12 weeks. It reached number five in Canada and number eight in the US.

David Live album cover

The album was not well received by critics. Rolling Stone magazine described it as “a thin, samey oneness… one dimensional, mixed into a flat canvas to highlight Bowie’s presence, and despite extended solos, the band does not establish an engaging identity… When ‘Changes’ is framed like a Watergate prophecy, you figure you’re hearing Bowie on the wrong night.”

In response to the critical pasting, the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger reportedly said: “”If I got the kind of reviews that he got for that album, I would honestly never record again. Never.”

David Live was recorded from many different shows, I merely mixed it. The sound quality on the master tapes was terrible and there wasn’t much I could do in those days given the limitations of the equipment. I haven’t heard everything from that tour so I don’t know if better versions exist. However I personally recorded Stage and I like that album a lot more.
Tony Visconti
tonyvisconti.com

‘Knock On Wood’ was released as a single in the UK, and reached number 10 on the singles chart. ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll With Me’ was a single in the US, in response to Donovan’s recent cover version. In both instances the b-side was the live version of ‘Panic In Detroit’.

In the Netherlands, a nine-song version of David Live was issued in 1979 as Rock Concert. In 1982 it was reissued as David Bowie At The Tower Philadelphia.

UK album release: Diamond Dogs
US single release: Young Americans
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