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Time travel with David Bowie

Long coveted by collectors, a one-time live bootleg of a very special early David Bowie performance is hitting the mainstream market. Which one is it? 

Long coveted by collectors, a one-time live bootleg of a very special early David Bowie performance is hitting the mainstream market.

Culled from the original 1972 KMET-FM (94.7) live radio broadcast in Southern California, David Bowie: Live Santa Monica ’72 was released July 8 by Virgin/EMI in limited-edition CD and numbered 180-gram double vinyl LP packages.

“The Mighty Met” broadcast Bowie’s first live U.S. appearance at the famed Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, a venue that earlier had been the site of unforgettable concerts by Bob Dylan, Traffic, Procol Harum, Faces, Kinks and Joe Cocker & Mad Dogs and Englishmen and the historic

“T.A.M.I. Show.” Legendary KMET-FM DJ B. Mitchel Reed introduced the personal appearance.

The new release includes photos taken at the Santa Monica show and a reprint of pop music critic Robert Hilburn’s original “Los Angeles Times” concert review.

In 1972, David Bowie embarked on his debut U.S. tour. He’d recently introduced the world to his Ziggy Stardust persona with his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and he had completed a successful U.K. slew of live dates.

Joining Bowie on the trek was his exceptional band, The Spiders From Mars: Mick Ronson, guitar and vocals; Trevor Bolder, bass; Mick “Woody” Woodmansey, drums; and Mike Garson, piano.

The repertoire is compiled largely from Bowie’s Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust albums and features two covers, Jacques Brel’s “My Death” and the Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man.” In addition, the set features the absorbing The Man Who Sold The World centerpiece “The Width Of A Circle,” and an advance preview of “The Jean Genie” that was to surface on his Aladdin Sane LP.

Released very briefly on CD in the mid-’90s but long since out-of-print, the cosmic performance captured by David Bowie: Live Santa Monica ’72 is mandatory for fans, historians and record collectors. In a 1981 poll, NME music critics proclaimed “(quite simply)... the performer’s, and one of rock’s, best-ever bootlegs.”

Bowie is also particularly fond of the concert recording, saying, “I can tell that I’m totally into being Ziggy by this stage of our touring. It’s no longer an act; I am him. This would be around the 10th American show for us, and you can hear that we are all pretty high on ourselves. We trainwreck a couple of things, I miss some words and sometimes you wouldn’t know that pianist Mike Garson was onstage with us, but overall I really treasure this bootleg. Mick Ronson is at his blistering best.”

Current KROQ-FM DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, in an earlier 1971 record business stint, coordinated West Coast promotional activities for Hollywood Boulevard-based Mercury Records when Bowie released the groundbreaking The Man Who Sold The World on that domestic label.

Bingenheimer initially steered Bowie to then-influential FM radio stations in Southern California, including a visit to KMET-FM, whose DJs and staff employees in 1971 were suspect of Bowie’s wardrobe, long hair and platter he was peddling circa ’71. At least Bingenheimer arranged for Bowie to spin some records on his influential KMET-FM radio station stop, including tracks by The Velvet Underground and The Stooges. Eighteen months later, KMET would actively support Bowie’s monumental Ziggy studio long player on RCA Records, and, subsequently, the station co-sponsored this historic concert.

“I’d seen a lot of shows, and it was the most amazing concert I had ever seen,” remembers tastemaker Bingenheimer. “Bowie as ‘Ziggy’ at the Civic,