At the end of the tour to promote Aladdin Sane, Bowie played a show at London's Hammersmith Odeon theatre. It was recorded and filmed by DA Pennebaker, and captures a sparkling performance by a band honed to perfection by years of touring. This is the famous "retirement" show, where Bowie announced his retirement onstage, a secret he had kept from all involved including the rest of the band.
Watching the video you soon sense this was a special night - both Bowie and Ronson are up front where they belong, but for some reason the atmosphere doesn't translate onto record. The between-song announcements and chat (all an essential part of a live concert) have all been edited out. I know this is standard practice for live albums these days, but IMO it kills the atmosphere - you end up with a bunch of songs done live rather than a live concert document.
Sound quality is average - there were technical problems with the recording, apparently. Jeff Beck joined the band onstage for an extended version of Jean Genie - which to this day remains unreleased. By all accounts Jeff was wearing some outragously flared trousers - it is the embarrasment factor more than anything which has prevented its release.
The good news is that the video and (long-deleted) CD are due to be re-released on 24th March 2003. The video, oops, DVD will feature improved picture quality (and in widescreen, to boot) and stereo and Dolby 5.1 DTS soundtracks. The CD will now come as a 2-CD set, with all the intros and between-song announcements restored. It will be remixed as well, to be closer to the sound on the night.