Stage (David Bowie album)

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Stage album cover.jpg
Live album by David Bowie
Released 8 September 1978
Recorded Spring 1978
Genre Art rock
Length 71:57 (original vinyl release) / 85:30 (2005 CD edition reissue)
Label RCA Records
David Bowie chronology
Singles from Stage
  1. "Breaking Glass" b/w "Art Decade" / "Ziggy Stardust"
    Released: November 1978
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[1]
Blender 2/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau B+[3]
MusicHound 3/5[4]
NME 8/10 (reissue)[5]
Pitchfork Media 7.9/10 (reissue)[6]
Rolling Stone (not rated)[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[8]

Stage is David Bowie's second live album, recorded on the Isolar II world tour, and released by RCA Records in 1978. First UK pressings were on translucent yellow vinyl and some European pressings were also available on blue vinyl. Though it was rumoured at the time that this would be his final outing with the label, following dissatisfaction over the promotion of Low and "Heroes", Bowie would in fact remain with RCA until 1982.

The recording was culled from concerts in Philadelphia, Providence and Boston, USA, in late April and early May 1978. It primarily included material from Bowie's most recent studio albums to that date, Station to Station, Low and "Heroes" but, in a surprise show of nostalgia, also featured five songs from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Aside from Bowie's core team of Carlos Alomar, Dennis Davis and George Murray, band members included ex-Frank Zappa sideman Adrian Belew on guitar, Simon House from Hawkwind on electric violin, Roger Powell, best known for his work with Todd Rundgren in the group Utopia, on keyboards and Sean Mayes on piano, string ensemble and backup vocals. All would reunite the following year on Bowie's next studio LP, Lodger.

Generally considered more relaxed than Bowie's previous live album, David Live (1974), Stage was praised on its initial vinyl release for the fidelity with which the band was able to emulate in concert the electronic and effects-filled numbers from Low and "Heroes", as well as for the singer's vocal performance. However, it was criticised for lacking a 'live' atmosphere, thanks to the recording being largely taken from direct instrument and microphone feeds which increased sound quality but minimised crowd noise. The original concert running order was also changed, with fades between tracks similar to a studio album.

As Bowie rarely tampered with the arrangements – in contrast to his method on David LiveStage added little to what was available on the original albums, and hence was seen by some commentators as simply a marketing exercise that did not do justice to a memorable series of live concerts. Even the cover picture came in for criticism, more so because the rest of the package contained only variations of the same shot.

Stage reached No. 5 in the UK album charts but only No. 44 in the US. "Breaking Glass", which originally appeared in shorter form on Low, was released as a single.

A 2005 re-issue saw most of the criticisms of the original LP addressed, and the new version garnered some favourable reviews.

The album is included in The Quietus' list of its writers' "40 Favourite Live Albums".[9]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by David Bowie, except where noted.

Original LP[edit]

Side one[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Hang On to Yourself" 3:26
2. "Ziggy Stardust" 3:32
3. "Five Years" 3:58
4. "Soul Love" 2:55
5. "Star" 2:31

Side two[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "Station to Station"   8:55
7. "Fame" Bowie, Carlos Alomar, John Lennon 4:06
8. "TVC 15"   4:37

Side three[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
9. "Warszawa" Bowie, Brian Eno 6:50
10. "Speed of Life"   2:44
11. "Art Decade"   3:10
12. "Sense of Doubt"   3:13
13. "Breaking Glass" Bowie, Dennis Davis, George Murray 3:28

Side four[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
14. ""Heroes"" Bowie, Eno 6:19
15. "What in the World"   4:24
16. "Blackout"   4:01
17. "Beauty and the Beast"   5:08


Stage has been re-released on CD three times to date, the first being in 1984 by RCA Records, then in 1991 by Rykodisc (containing a bonus track) and most recently in 2005 by EMI. The running order of the latter edition reflects the actual performance, removed fades between tracks, and included two more bonus tracks: in addition to "Alabama Song", already added in 1991, the double CD also includes "Be My Wife" and "Stay".

The 1991 edition was awarded three stars out of five in Q: "Performances are faster than the studio originals and suffer for it; what they gain in live jauntiness - not exactly a quality they were crying out for - they lose in power and intensity."[10]

The 2005 EMI release of this album has been copy protected with CDS 200 in the EU.

1984 re-release notes[edit]

The 1984 re-release on CD (catalogue number PD89002, Made in Germany - there was no Japanese or North America release of this album) contains the same running order as the original LP, and comes on two discs. (Some of the European-distributed CDs were manufactured in Japan, but cover and assembling were made in Europe. Most of the CDs were made in Germany).

1991 rerelease bonus track[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
10. "Alabama Song" (10th track on CD 2) Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill 4:00

2005 re-release track listing[edit]

The 2005 re-issue features the original order in which the concerts took place, although some songs which were performed during the four recorded nights are not on the album, including "The Jean Genie", "Suffragette City" and "Rebel Rebel".

Disc one[edit]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Warszawa" Bowie, Eno 6:50
2. ""Heroes"" Bowie, Eno 6:19
3. "What in the World"   4:24
4. "Be My Wife" (Bonus track)   2:35
5. "Blackout"   4:01
6. "Sense of Doubt"   3:13
7. "Speed of Life"   2:44
8. "Breaking Glass" Bowie, Davis, Murray 3:28
9. "Beauty and the Beast"   5:08
10. "Fame" Bowie, Lennon, Alomar 4:06
Disc two[edit]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Five Years"   3:58
2. "Soul Love"   2:55
3. "Star"   2:31
4. "Hang On to Yourself"   3:26
5. "Ziggy Stardust"   3:32
6. "Art Decade"   3:10
7. "Alabama Song" Brecht, Weill 4:00
8. "Station to Station"   8:55
9. "Stay" (Bonus track)   7:17
10. "TVC 15"   4:37


Additional musicians[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Jan Michael Alejandro – Band Tech
  • Vern "Moose" Constan – Band Tech
  • Rob Joyce – Stage Manager
  • Leroy Kerr – Band Tech
  • Edd Kolakowski – Piano and Keyboard Tech (Australia, New Zealand and Japan dates)



Year Chart Position
1978 UK Albums Chart 5
1978 Billboard Pop Albums 44
1978 Norway 18


Year Single Chart Position
1978 "Breaking Glass" UK Singles Chart 54


Organization Level Date
BPI – UK Gold 1978


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Stage - Blender". Blender. Retrieved 16 June 2009. 
  3. ^ "CG: david bowie". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 151. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  5. ^ "NME Album Reviews - Bowie, David : Stage". Nme.Com. 7 April 2005. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  6. ^ [1] Archived 30 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ "David Bowie: Album Guide". Archived from the original on 30 May 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Snow, Mat (March 1992), Q

Works cited

  • Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record
  • David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story
  • Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie