Recorded: 23 August 1999
Audio mixing: Mark Plati, Thom Cadley
Released: 6 July 2009
David Bowie: vocals, guitar
Reeves Gabrels, Mark Plati: guitar
Mike Garson: piano, keyboards
Gail Ann Dorsey: bass guitar, vocals
Sterling Campbell: drums, percussion
Holly Palmer, Lani Groves: backing vocals
VH1 Storytellers was David Bowie’s sixth live album. It was released on 6 July 2009, and contains a live performance originally broadcast a decade earlier on the VH1 television show Storytellers.
VH1’s long-running Storytellers strand began in 1996 with a performance by the Kinks’ Ray Davies, and took its name from his then-current solo tour, Storyteller. It showcased intimate performances in front of small audiences, interspersed with tales about the music, and the lives of the writers and performers.
Bowie’s performance was filmed on 23 August 1999 at the Manhattan Center Studios in New York City, at the beginning of his promotional tour for the ‘hours…’ album. The show’s director was Michael A Simon.
VH1 Storytellers was released as a DVD/CD pack a decade after the show was recorded, and peaked at number 114 in the UK. The CD contained all eight songs originally broadcast, and an additional four were included on the DVD and released as audio downloads.
This was Bowie’s final live performance with Reeves Gabrels, a long-running partnership which had begun in 1988 with a live rearrangement of the song ‘Look Back In Anger’, and came to the fore with the Tin Machine project a year later.
It was also the first performance in which Sterling Campbell played drums with Bowie. Campbell remained part of Bowie’s live band until the end of A Reality Tour in 2004, and performed on a number of studio albums up to 2013’s The Next Day.
VH1 Storytellers featured various lesser-performed songs from Bowie’s past. The oldest was ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’, written in 1965 and released the following January as a single by David Bowie with the Lower Third. There were also performances of ‘Drive-In Saturday’ and ‘Word On A Wing’, which Bowie had not played live since 1974 and 1976 respectively.
The set had one song each from the albums Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs, Station To Station, Low, Tin Machine, and Let’s Dance, and four from ‘hours…’.