From Thin White Duke to Pete and Dud impersonator For the last 38 years there’s been a strain of hardcore Bowie fan which needs to possess every musical glimmer and celluloid appearance the man has made in his long and fascinating career. This latest in the Rare & Unseen series will be nectar for those endearing fanatics. It revolves around two contrasting interviews from 1976 and 1999, interspersed with clips where Bowie’s songs are “imitated” by someone called Steve Riks, plus a 1978 backstage encounter with Janet Street-Porter.
The centre-piece is a 1976 long-distance TV interview with 70s chat supremo Russell Harty, whose studio screen eerily flickers into life to reveal the haunted features of Thomas Jerome Newton in his very thin and exceedingly white dukedom, perched uneasily against a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean in Burbank, California. Harty enquires about the upcoming tour but, to the obvious irritation of the frozen apparition before him, is more concerned with Bowie’s stage outfits than the music.
This somewhat uncomfortable spectacle is intercut with a very contrasting Bowie, circa ’99, at ease with the world, laughing at himself and speaking candidly about his past vices. Launching into a Dudley Moore impression, it’s a treat to see him so relaxed and at ease. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the everpresent cigarette.