Monday, December 14, 2020

DAVID BOWIE AND MORRISSEY - Cosmic Dancer (Live) - Review

A remastered video of musical legends Morrissey and David Bowie T. Rex’s ‘Cosmic Dancer‘ has been officially released and it is predictably momentous. The rendition, recorded at Los Angeles’ Inglewood Forum in 1991, will feature on a 7” double A-side single that also includes Morrissey’s new cover of The Jam’s ‘That’s Entertainment’. 

The track commences with the sound of an intensifying crowd followed by the gentle strum of Cosmic Dancer’s iconic opening G chord. The holler of the audience becomes a key part of this musical composition, and, coupled with the live vocals, the authenticity of this duet is unmatched.

Morrissey begins the first verse, his typically distinctive drone echoing over a sequence of isolated acoustic guitar licks. He is then joined by a much deeper and equally distinctive voice, the starman himself, David Bowie. One can visualize exactly what is happening along with the track as the roars of the crowd become louder and more tumultuous. The choice to use only an acoustic guitar for this performance was certainly the best decision, for the vocal symphony created by these two artists together is enough on its own. Although their tones do not typically complement one another and some areas sound a little unrefined, the weight of each icons vocal register carries the track and helps you to overlook these minuscule slips. The only thing missing is the typical climax and famous guitar solo that can be found in the original rendition of Cosmic Dancer, though maybe in this instance, less is definitely more. 

Steven Patrick Morrissey would only be a young schoolboy, on the edge of 16, the first time he crossed paths with David Bowie. The Mancunian raconteur recounts waiting eagerly after a Ziggy Stardust show during the early 70’s to share a note with the singer:

“Smiling keenly, he accepts the note of a dull schoolboy whose overblown soul is more ablaze than the school blazer he wears, and thus I touch the hand of this inexplicably liberating reformer.” - (Autobiography, Morrissey)

Neither could predict that they would later become acquainted; this time, the youngster would not just be a fan but a musical equal. He would later write about the moment at the Inglewood Forum with great fondness: 

“The 12-year-old within me—unable to leave for school unless I’d soothed my sickness with at least one spin of ‘Starman’—bathes in the moment in disbelief. But there it is.” (Autobiography, Morrissey)

I think as watchers we can agree too. Bowie’s dark register creeping over Morrissey’s baritone drawl creates an otherworldly sentiment that epitomises the collide of two musical worlds. A brief moment of harmony is immortalised forever in this very magical recording, and despite being slightly rough around the edges, its charm is nevertheless cosmic.

- Daisy Howarth

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