Stage was released on 25 September 1978. Initial UK copies were on translucent yellow vinyl, with some European countries issuing it on blue vinyl.
The album was a commercial success, reaching number five in the UK and being certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry. It fared less well in the US, where it peaked at number 44.
A single, ‘Breaking Glass’, was released from Stage in 1978 as part of a three-track EP. It was not a success, reaching number 54 in the UK.
In the US, ‘Star’ was released as a single, but failed to chart, as did a Japanese release of ‘Soul Love’ with ‘Blackout’ on the b-side.
Bowie had been unhappy with RCA for some years, a dissatisfaction heightened by the label’s unenthusiastic reaction to Low. In 1978 Bowie, keen to fulfil his contract and move on, clashed with RCA over whether the double-disc Stage constituted one or two albums. RCA prevailed, citing David Live as a precedent, but the incident only increased Bowie’s resolve to leave the label.
Reissues, remixes, remasters
Stage was first released on compact disc in 1984 by RCA.
A 1991 reissue by Rykodisc/EMI on CD, vinyl and cassette contained the bonus live track ‘Alabama Song’.
The album was digitally remastered by EMI in 2005. This version restored the original running order of the concerts, and removed the fades between the songs to give greater continuity. The 2005 version also contained extensive sleeve notes by Tony Visconti, and three additional tracks: ‘Be My Wife’, ‘Alabama Song’, and ‘Stay’.
Visconti also created 5.1 and DTS surround mixes of Stage and David Live, which were released on DVD-Audio later in 2005.
In 2004 I got to work with the tapes again to remix it in surround sound. Remixing David in his 1977 incarnation in 2004, I can barely perceive any evidence of aging in his voice. If a Dorian Gray-type portrait of his vocal cords exists, he keeps it well hidden. He is one of the most amazing performers of our time, and these performances seem timeless to me.
Bowie, Bolan And The Brooklyn Boy
Two versions of Stage were included in the 2017 box set A New Career In A New Town (1977-1982): the original 1978 version and a new 2017 Edition.
The 1978 reissue was on yellow vinyl, and contained a reproduction sticker stating: “Special Limited Edition On Yellow Vinyl! Including the hit single Breaking Glass”.
The 2017 Edition was a double-CD and triple vinyl set, and was subsequently given a standalone release on CD, vinyl and digital download. It contained two extra songs from the concerts: ‘The Jean Genie’ and ‘Suffragette City’. The CD edition contained a 12-page foldout booklet, and the vinyl version included three inner picture sleeves, with additional live photography by Gilles Riberolles.
The inclusion of the two additional songs meant that ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’ was the only song performed at Bowie’s four 1978 shows not to have had an official release.