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Bowie – In Bertolt Brecht's BAAL (10-Inch EP)

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This is a rare five-track EP containing songs by the playwright Bertolt Brecht. In 1981 Bowie took the title role of a BBC television adaptation of Brecht’s play Baal. The titular protagonist is a drunken poet, iconoclast and womaniser, whose decline is charted over the course of the play. Bowie performed a series of songs in the TV adaptation, with lyrics translated by Willett and Ralph Manheim. They were given a simple banjo accompaniment on screen, but it was decided that they would benefit from a fuller arrangement for the record release. This was Bowie's final new release on RCA Records and is becoming increasingly rare - making this an excellent collector's piece!

Brecht wrote Baal, his first full-length play, in 1918, yet it was not performed in public until 1923. The BBC adaptation was directed by Alan Clarke, who was best known for his social realism works for television and cinema. Clarke envisaged a stark television version of Baal, using split-screen effects.

The play was adapted for the small screen by John Willett, produced by Louis Marks and directed by Alan Clarke. The three approached David Bowie after noting his performance as the lead in The Elephant Man, and correctly guessed that the singer had an interest in Brecht and Weimer-era Germany. To their delight he readily agreed to appear in the play.

Four weeks of rehearsals took place in Acton, London, before the week-long shoot from 8-12 August 1981. It was first broadcast by the BBC the following March, and the EP David Bowie In Bertolt Brecht’s Baal was released to coincide. Bowie's performance as Baal was transmitted on 2 March 1982, and RCA issued the EP to coincide with this. Both the play and EP were well received, with the latter reaching No. 29 in the UK chart - a commendable placing considering the unconventional nature.

 

Track Listing

Side One

  1. Baal's Hymn
  2. Remembering Marie A.

Side Two

  1. Ballad of the Adventurers
  2. The Drowned Girl
  3. Dirty Song

 

Format: Vinyl / 10" EP

Label: Rhino

Catalogue No: 0190295667450

No of Discs: 1

Release Date: 29 Jun 2018