Reversing the Numbness

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Bass Player Has Chops

... and he can also play. Here's a classic Bowie performance of one of his best songs, "Starman."


spooge said...

i'm trying to decide who I'd rather see lip sync. Kiss or David Bowie.

hmmmm....decisions, decisions.....

SleekPelt said...

What are you talking about, Willis? He's not lip syncing in this footage!

Zee said...

Nah, that isn't lip synched. Some videos when posted to youtube are off on the audio/video synch. take a look at this as a perfect example of a live performance messed up by Youtube by throwingthe vocals a good 5 seconds off from the video.

Oh, and yeah, this Bowie clip is great. Mick Ronson looks like a little kid!

spooge said...

no monitors, no string orchestra, and he stops playing acoustic guitar a quarter of the way through the song, yet I still hear it in the mix.

definitely lip synched.

they did it on all these shows. nothing to be ashamed of.

besides, the chops on the bass player make up for any misrepresentation of talent.

Zee said...

Yeah, after another viewing, I am inclined to think it was lip synched, as you said, because of the nature of the show.

SleekPelt said...

Great points, Eric. You're definitely right that the music is piped in. However, I still contend that this is not a lip-synced performance.

First, I compared the video to the studio version of the song. The music is identical, right down to the strings. They've clearly used all of the instrumental studio tracks directly from the album.

The vocals, however, are very different, as anyone familiar with the studio track would know. I believe they're live, and this is basically a karaoke performance. My reasons follow.

First, they're matched perfectly. Second, I think there's only one live mic, and it's Bowie's. The guitar player does some backup vocals, but only into Bowie's mic, ignoring his own for the whole performance. If you watch these harmonies, you'll see that the guys are just slightly off from each other, yet they still match their own voices perfectly. Third, during the first chorus, Bowie holds his finger over his ear as he starts to sing high, most likely to attempt to compensate for the fact that there's no vocal monitor.

Finally, and I think this is perhaps the best evidence of all, there is one example of a studio vocal making it onto the performance. As the song winds down and Bowie sings the "La, la la la la, la la la la, la la la la" part, this is directly from the studio cut. On the video, he's not at the mic, but it's his voice doing the 'la la's. But with four seconds remaining in the video, he steps up to the mic and sings a couple of 'la la's' over the studio recording, and you can clearly hear them coming through the mic.

So I say it's karaoke. The only other alternative is that they re-recorded the vocals for this performance only, and then rehearsed them so completely that they were able to nail the lip-sync live. As Eric pointed out, shows used to feature lip-syncing all the time, but it was usually just over the studio vocals.

Zee? I'd like to get Rob S.'s opinion, too, because I once read that he lists Ziggy Stardust among his favorite albums and would therefore be very familiar with this song.

spooge said...

I concede.