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David Bowie – “Heroes” (Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas TV Special 1977, Christmas 2019 Nacho Revision)

December 23rd, 2019 | by admin
David Bowie – “Heroes” (Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas TV Special 1977, Christmas 2019 Nacho Revision)
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This video is a new version of David Bowie’s 1977 performance of “Heroes”, from Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas TV Special.

On this version, sound and vision have been considerably altered: an attempt to create a more satisfying stand-alone video of the clip.

Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas was recorded in Elstree, Borehamwood near London, on the 11th of September 1977. It was originally broadcast that year in the US on the 30th of November by CBS, and in the UK on the 24th of December by ITV.

The show had two segments that featured David Bowie. The second segment was his first live vocal of “Heroes” sung over the backing track.

Bowie looks really great in the Bing Crosby show “Heroes” clip. He’s beautifully lit and we get a lot of really nice close-ups. Furthermore, it’s an unusual one-of-a-kind live vocal, with curious phasing and echo effects. Yet the clip frustrates me somewhat. Aside from the usual issues of it being a poor quality visual transfer etc., I feel that there are two really irksome issues – the poor sound quality, and the spoiled intro. Bing Crosby talks over the intro of “Heroes” – The track fades in, with Bowie slowly coming into view in a slow cross-dissolve from the previous scene with Bing and Twiggy. It lasts almost until the moment Bowie starts to sing. Thereby the drama of the magical intro of “Heroes” is negated, and the segment doesn’t work well as a stand-alone clip.

Working on the Bing and Bowie duet recently got me thinking again about how I could try to improve the “Heroes” clip. I figured out a way of fairly successfully isolating Bowie’s image as he emerges from the cross dissolve of that previous scene. But that didn’t get around the sound issue. A chance conversation with my Bowie mate, the producer Particledots, started a flurry of ideas for a solution going back and forth between us. Crucially, Particledots came up with the idea of infusing the intro with the Eno / Fripp “Heroes” drone track. It seemed potentially a good fit, since the Bing audio was already effect-laden, plus I was experimenting with a visual intro of Bowie emerging in a fuzzy slo-mo zoom-in.

The Particledots and Nacho audio: “The Slow Evolution From Version 1 to Version 13”

It was process of multiple revisions, based on feedback between us, over the last couple of weeks. On the ‘Bing’ version, the beginning of the track is missing; so it was replaced with the first few bars of the single version, converted to mono (Bing audio is mono) & eq’d to match. Bing’s speech could therefore be completely removed. The ‘Bing’ track is blended with a version of “Heroes” found on YouTube, that has Bowie vox removed. This ‘no vocal’ version is aligned correctly with the ‘Bing’ track, and heavily filtered and eq’d. It sits under the Bing track reintroducing a ‘new’ stereo field. The ‘Bing’ track is heavy on the mid range, which is good because that’s mostly where Bowie’s vocal registers, but it badly lacks the high and low end. On the ‘no vocal’ version, the low and high frequencies are pushed, thereby giving the track a dynamic boost, without reducing the perceived volume of the vocal. The whole track was eq’d and filtered a bit more, to try to match somewhat the standard version of “Heroes”. The Fripp / Eno drone, which comes from the Visconti breakdown of “Heroes” from a BBC doc, is added as an intro. And the drone is reintroduced at the end, to fit the slow mo Bowie visual fade out, instead of the original abrupt cut of after ‘just for one day’.

Hope you dig it

Credits

Video and Audio Source:
David Bowie • “Heroes” • Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas TV Special • Produced by Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion • Recorded at ATV Studio, Elstree, London • 11th of September 1977

Additional Audio Source:

David Bowie • “Heroes” • 2017 remaster
“David Bowie – Heroes (Instrumental Backing Track Filtered)” • www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gnd8iFkuuws

Particledots • Fripp / Eno “Heroes” drone track • “Breaking down David Bowie’s “Heroes” – track by track” • www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03g18sx

Credits for the original recording of “Heroes”

David Bowie • lead vocals, piano, ARP Solina, Chamberlin, percussion
Robert Fripp • lead guitar
Carlos Alomar • rhythm guitar
George Murray • bass guitar
Dennis Davis • drums
Brian Eno • synthesizer, guitar treatments
Tony Visconti • backing vocals, tambourine, tape reel

Produced by Tony Visconti & David Bowie • Recorded July & August 1977

Always more videos to follow, so please keep your electric eye on me babe!

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.

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