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David Bowie & Cher – Young Americans Medley – Live on The Cher Show, 1975 (Nacho remaster)

April 14th, 2017 | by admin

The original version of Young Americans was recorded in August 1974, and released as a single in February, 1975, and in March, on the David Bowie album, Young Americans.

The live medley with Cher was aired on November the 23rd, 1975. It was recorded at the CBS studios in Fairfax, Los Angeles. No recording date could be ascertained.

The three Bowie Cher Show performances are so contrasting – the fierceness of Fame, the tenderness of Can You Hear Me and the showmanship of the Young Americans medley.

Bowie claims to remember almost nothing of the recording of the show or of meeting Cher. This is consistent with his claims about the entire Station To Station / LA period where there was little sleep and sustenance was mainly in powder form. Years later Bowie speculated, “I was probably this crazed anorexic figure walking in. I’m sure she didn’t know what to make of me”.

Bowie is so incongruous on the Cher Show. We know he was experimenting wildly in his personal life – famously at the furthest reaches of his coke habit, and with his music making – still immersed in the all-night recording sessions for his most ambitious and out-there album, Station To Station. So, what the hell was he doing on a prime time light entertainment program like The Cher Show? The Cher Show should not have worked. And yet…

The November the 23rd, 1975 Cher Show starts with the host in a boob-tube doing a sing-song intro routine that culminates in her cream-pieing herself in the face, to excessive canned laughter and applause. As that scene fades, Fame starts and Bowie looks like he wants to kill someone…

Unlike the drugged out debacle of his Soul Train appearance a few weeks prior, Bowie is totally on point throughout The Cher Show, including in The Young Americans Medley, which is the closing song of the show. But again, Young Americans is an incongruous choice. It had been a huge hit in the States, based on I think a misunderstanding that it was a celebration of American life, much like Springsteen’s Born in the USA a decade later. When in fact Young Americans is a darkly cynical song that even doubts the goodness of young love.

I was thinking about this, and I realised that I too had been hoodwinked by the big upbeat groove of Young Americans and it’s catchy chorus. Having originally heard it on my first Bowie album, ChangesOne as a very young kid, I knew every note and sang along, but not knowing really I think, what it was I was joining in with. And in fact I think it wasn’t until seeing Young Americans used at the end of Lars Von Triers dark allegory Dogville, that I fully embraced the brilliance of Bowie’s cynicism in the song. At the end of that long and vicious story, three hours of minimalism and sadism on a bare sound stage, unexpectedly hearing the familiar drum intro of Young Americans, I abruptly laughed out loud in the movie theatre, suddenly in full realization of the meaning of the movie and of Bowie’s song, as images flash up from Jacob Holdt’s “American Pictures”of America at its worst and most squalid, and the credits roll.

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The Young Americans medley on the Cher Show cuts off Bowie’s dark lyric pretty early on in the song, so there’s no carrying a razor, just in case of depression. But we get the premature ejaculation of “It took him minutes, took her nowhere’, because it’s in the opening verse. And then of course there is the medley. From the Bowie-fan perspective, there are good things about the performance. He’s in fine voice! In fact when he solos a bit of Only You, in his best Elvis voice, I just want him to continue the song. And he looks great – the cream slacks, the grey tweed jacket, the weird almost Cuban-heeled white patent leather boots!

Having said that he’s totally together throughout the performance, watch him closely, there are one or two moments, when when the lost druggy vacancy of the Soul Train performance is glimpsed.
To be honest, the cheesiness of the Young Americans medley is not massively my thing. But constructing this has been a useful break from tearing my hair out over the Subteraneans project. And having acquired a pretty decent quality version of The Cher Show, and enough subsidiary bits and pieces, including a pretty clean audio, to make it a considerable upgrade on what we have out there at the moment, it’s kinda a shame not to bung it out.

Hope you dig it!

Do me an’ yerself a favor – watch it in the Highest Def available with the sound UP LOUD!

If anyone has any other footage, or ideas for another video project, of material from Bowie’s classic period, do please get in touch: [email protected]

Putting this video together was another huge labour of love, made with love and with respect for the source.

I don’t own the rights, and I’m not making any money out of this etc. Just a fan making videos for other fans.

Nacho, April 14th, 2017.

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