You can now listen to a previously unreleased David Bowie live album from 1999, ‘Something in the Air’

Previously unreleased, the 15-track LP was taken from David Bowie’s intimate performance at the Elysée Montmarte in Paris.

The new David Bowie rarity, Something in the Air (Live Paris 99) is the latest in an array of archival releases from the legendary artist in 2020. The Parisian rendition was part of Bowie’s Hours Tour, recorded on October 14, 1999.

Something in the Air (Live Paris 99) was a memorable performance for David Bowie and his fans for a number of reasons. Backed by a full band, Bowie played songs he hadn’t played in decades, while also picking up an honourable French award on the same day.

david bowie
Photo: Getty

Not only was it the first time Bowie ever played the title track live, but it was also the same day he was awarded the prestigious Commandeurs of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Regarded as France’s highest artistic honour, the night marked a landmark time for the artist.

“First time we’ve ever done this one – ever, ever!” Bowie described whilst introducing Something In The Air to the French audience.

Listening to the recording, it’s obvious that Bowie is in high spirits on the night, continuously chatting with the audience throughout. The crowd sounds pleased and appears immersed, laughing and clearly enjoying the set.

Prior to performing the straight string Can’t Help Thinking About Me, Bowie introduces: “This is the first song I recorded as David Bowie in 1966. So you won’t know it very well, but it’s fast and it’s nice.” 

In the recording, we can hear cheering as Bowie works his way through the rare tune from his early days as an artist. David Jones, as he was known before he took on the stage name of David Bowie and the Ziggy Stardust pseudonym later down the line, would soon become one the most pioneering artists of his generation.

Following Can’t Help Thinking About Me, Bowie dives right into the enigmatic China Girl, a track he co-wrote with Iggy Pop during their time spent in Berlin. Funnily enough, Iggy also took on a pseudonym when he strayed away from his early caravan youth as James Osterberg.

David Bowie is evidently feeling sentimental on the evening as he recalls, “Right now, that’s twenty years old that song”, closing Always Crashing in the Same Car – another rare performance of an early track from his back catalogue.

Bowie was a key pioneer in fashion and sex, subverting the conventional by wearing androgynous clothing and propagating Japanese fashion into the Western world.

“1974 we’re onto now, and you have to imagine lots of hair, more makeup than I’ve got on now… This song is all about watching video to try and understand how to do sex. What a ridiculous subject for a song?!” Bowie explains on Drive-In Saturday.

It’s clear that Bowie is a master performer by this career point, gripping the audience throughout the entirety of the Elysée Montmarte Live in Paris 1999 show. This is Bowie at his best, playing “a couple of old songs, couple of new songs and a couple of obscure songs”, the artist explains after performing a brilliant version of Changes.

Slated to perform for 45 minutes, David Bowie continues to play on into the Parisian night for close to half an hour more, enjoying himself and entertaining his fans all the more. Oh, how we miss you David – you pretty thing!

Check out the website for more details and head here to stream the album on Spotify.

Track Listing:

Life On Mars?
Thursday’s Child
Something In The Air
Word On A Wing
Can’t Help Thinking About Me
China Girl
Always Crashing In The Same Car
Drive-In Saturday
I Can’t Read
The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell
Rebel Rebel