CD Review: David Bowie

VH1 Storytellers (Virgin)

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The CD portion of Bowie's 1999 VH1 Storytellers appearance redundantly contains the audio from the eight songs heard on the VH1 show, but irritatingly omits the four "bonus performance" outtakes included on the DVD. Although they're not "unplugged," Bowie's top-notch electric band sounds wonderfully warm and intimate here. The low-key nature of the show yields some powerful performances of cool Bowie oldies like "Can't Help Thinking About Me" and "Drive-In Saturday." Bowie used the Storytellers appearance to promote his current album Hours, the weakest of his 1990s albums. Although the Hours songs here aren't completely awful, their relative weakness and disproportionate representation bogs things down.

Bowie introduces the show, "I wish I had more time. Oh, the things I could tell you ... you don't know the half of it!" It's fair warning, but Storytellers feels light and less than fully satisfying after consumption. Sure, the anecdotes about Marc Bolan, Mott the Hoople and Iggy Pop are fun, and Bowie gets vulnerable introducing "Word on a Wing." But his thoughtful depth and profundity, along with Storytellers' narrative premise, set up expectations for something richer and deeper than what's spread across these two discs.

Michael David Toth

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