David Bowie performs ‘Station To Station’ live in 1978

Nacho Video breathes new life into footage from Tokyo by mixing with audio from the remastered version of Stage

‘Station To Station’, the opening track from David Bowie’s album of the same name, was originally released in January 1976. In this version, the talented Nacho Video has mixed the audio from the 2005 remaster of Bowie’s 1978 live album, Stage, with footage filmed in Tokyo. Below he explains the inspiration for his latest production.

Stage was recorded live at the Philadelphia, Boston and Providence shows, in Spring 1978. Listening to an audience recording of Station To Station, from the Philadelphia show on the 28 April 1978, it sounds remarkably similar to the version we hear on Stage. Albeit the Stage version had been edited, shortened in length by around two minutes, and quite possibly overdubbed to some extent.

“From a mammoth synth train reproduction to the young Adrian Belew staking his claim as the song’s definitive guitarist to a Bowie vocal that’s all sinew, it’s arguably the song’s finest performance. The band uses the key change as a signal to rocket off: there’s an intense communal joy to this music, and even Bowie gets carried away by it.”

The video footage used here is from the final night of the 1978 tour, in Tokyo on the 12 December 1978. It is the only known complete footage of Station to Station from the ’78 tour. The version of Station to Station we hear on that Tokyo footage, is in my opinion, not really good. Whilst the quality of recording is pretty high, the sound mix and moreover the performance is just not great, including Bowie’s vocal not being one of his best, and Adrian Belew’s wild guitar explorations veering perhaps a bit too wildly off course.

Station to Station from Stage has been one of my favourite Bowie moments since I first heard the album, when I was around 12 years old. I would sit in my room, at my parents house, with the volume up as high as I was allowed, with the crazy disco lights my Dad had bought me, flashing away wildly to the train noises, and George Murray’s and Dennis Davies thrilling deep bass notes, and drums build up…

So anyway, a video was required, I decided. And, being the eternal optimist, and despite the fact that every video I make seems to take an eternity in maddening minuscule details, I imagined, “Ah! This will be a nice quickie” – after all, how difficult can it be to match two live versions of the same song, from the same tour?

I won’t bore you with too many specifics of the last two weeks of frustrations, or shock you with some of the bleary eyed, late night expletives hurled at the computer! But I will briefly share some of the difficulties in the making of this video. A huge problem was that the version of Station to Station on Stage has been heavily edited, shaving off around 2 minutes, throughout the song from the original. Whole sections are gone, parts of verses, the guitar break much reduced, the intro heavily edited etc. What’s more, the Tokyo version was very much longer – in excess of 13 minutes long. So that gave me a lot of continuity problems. As always, needless to say, Mr. Bowie changes lyrics, and emphasis throughout, creating huge difficulties. And lastly, the other big hassle was matching the improvised guitar squealings by that other wild card in the pack on the ’78 tour, Mr. Adrian Belew!”