Few musicians possess such a formidable catalog of work as David Bowie, that exists independently of genres and trends, and travels freely across all dimensions of time, inhabiting present, past, and future with equal regard. Four decades after he made his debut recordings of 1967, he remains one of the most valued barometers of cultural change that popular music has produced. At every stage of his career he has defined and refined the state of the art, in the process becoming the art itself, an impossibly influential singer, songwriter, story-teller, producer, arranger, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, charismatic video, film and stage presence, and much more.
As a special commemorative collection, the two-CD vinyl replica digipak international editions of David Bowie’s five most recent studio albums – OUTSIDE, EARTHLING, ’hours…’, HEATHEN, and REALITY – have now been packaged together in a limited edition slipcase. THE DAVID BOWIE BOX SET will arrive in stores December 4th on ISO/Columbia, a division of SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT.
In the early 1990s, while still signed to EMI in Great Britain, David Bowie signed with Virgin Records in the U.S., at the peak of the label’s success in the pop field (Janet Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Lenny Kravitz, Smashing Pumpkins, et alia). The three studio albums he subsequently recorded for Virgin – OUTSIDE (1995), EARTHLING (1997), and ’hours…’ (1999) – were among the most adventurous and controversial he ever produced.
Two years later, Bowie negotiated a deal with Columbia Records for his own label, ISO, and went on to record his most recent studio albums under the new venture, HEATHEN (2002) and REALITY (2003).
The deal also brought rights for OUTSIDE, EARTHLING, and ’hours…’, and in 2004, they were issued by Sony International as two-CD sets, each containing a bonus disc of more than a dozen mixes, remixes, edits, special versions, alternate takes, outtakes, rarities and so on. In 2007, they were followed-up with two-CD configurations of HEATHEN and REALITY, again for the international market, with bonus discs of impossible-to-find – and in many cases previously unreleased – material.
Assembling these five albums into THE DAVID BOWIE BOX SET brings more than 60 tracks of bonus material to fans and collectors for the first time in one package. As the world awaits news of David Bowie’s next project, the time is right to focus attention on his most recent work, reaching back more than a decade.
THE DAVID BOWIE BOX
(ISO/Columbia/Legacy 88697 16903 2)
Two and a half years after the release of Black Tie, White Noise, Bowie emerged with OUTSIDE (subtitled The Nathan Adler Diaries: A Hyper Cycle), based on one of the many short stories he’d written. It was intended to be the first in a series of five non-sequential futuristic narratives based on the exploits of a police investigator who specializes in crimes of art and cyberspace, in this case, the death of 14-year-old Baby Grace Blue. As reported in Billboard Monitor, “Bowie inhabits no less than seven characters throughout the set.” As he told the publication upon the album’s release, "We've gotten to a point where people are exhibiting pieces of body and stuff in pickle jars. We have to get to a point where murder itself is going to become an art form. Why is this? What is promoting this? And I kind of put it down to certain paganism and a tacit agreement that we should appease the gods by some kind of virtual sacrifice so we can get into the next millennium unscathed.”
Most significantly, the sessions re-united Bowie with composer and multi-instrumentalist Brian Eno for one album, the first time since their landmark “Berlin Trilogy” circa 1976-78 with producer Tony Visconti (those albums: Low, Heroes, and Lodger). Two decades later, the result was Bowie’s first wholesale foray into the worlds of industrial sound, techno and electronica, recorded in Montreux. In an age of “Law & Order” marathons, “CSI” spin-offs, and “Forensic Files” autopsies, OUTSIDE took on a new life of its own. Three singles emerged, “Hearts Filthy Lesson” (which hit the top 20 hit on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart, and was heard in the closing credits of the film Seven), “Hallo Spaceboy,” and “Strangers When We Meet,” whose U.K. B-side “Get Real” makes its U.S. debut on this expanded edition. Another track, “I'm Deranged” was heard in the soundtrack of director David Lynch’s Lost Highway.
OUTSIDE by DAVID BOWIE (ISO/Columbia/Legacy, originally issued September 1995, as Virgin 40711) Disc One – Selections: 1. Leon Takes Us Outside • 2. Outside • 3. The Heart’s Filthy Lesson • 4. A Small Plot Of Land • 5. Segue – Baby Grace (A Horrid Cassette) • 6. Hallo Spaceboy • 7. The Motel • 8. I Have Not Been to Oxford Town • 9. No Control • 10. Segue – Algeria Touchshriek • 11. The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty) • 12. Segue – Ramona A. Stone/I Am With Name • 13. Wishful Beginnings • 14. We Prick You • 15. Segue – Nathan Adler • 16. I’m Deranged • 17. Thru’ These Architects Eyes • 18. Segue – Nathan Adler (Album Version #2) • 19. Strangers When We Meet.
Disc Two – Selections: 1. The Heart’s Filthy Lesson (Trent Reznor Alternative Mix) • 2. The Heart’s Filthy Lesson (Rubber Mix) • 3. The Heart’s Filthy Lesson (Simple Test Mix) • 4. The Heart’s Filthy Lesson (Filthy Mix) • 5. The Heart’s Filthy Lesson (Good Karma Mix by Tim Simenon) • 6. A Small Plot Of Land (Basquiat OST Version) • 7. Hallo Spaceboy (12” Remix) • 8. Hallo Spaceboy (Double Click Mix) • 9. Hallo Spaceboy (Instrumental) • 10. Hallo Spaceboy (Lost In Space Mix) • 11. I Am With Name • 12. I’m Deranged (Jungle Mix) • 13. Get Real • 14. Nothing To Be Desired. (Bonus disc issued 2004, for Sony International two-CD version.)
Recording in New York City with his working band (led by guitarist Reeves Gabrels), Bowie expanded upon the industrial framework by adding so-called techno “drums’n’bass” and inadvertently opening the doors to jungle and electronica, dominant musical forces throughout the U.K. and Europe (if not America) at the end of the ’90s. The club scene dictated the release of a steady stream of remixes. When the Adam F mix of “Telling Lies” was made available on the Bowie website before the album’s release, it was reputedly the first downloadable single ever issued by a major artist. The album helped Bowie reach a brand new audience as a result of a controversial remix by by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails), for “I’m Afraid Of Americans,” which became a college underground favorite, and whose video received strong support from MTV. The album went on to receive several Grammy nominations including Best Alternative Performance.
EARTHLING by DAVID BOWIE (ISO/Columbia/Legacy, originally issued January 1997, as Virgin 42627) Disc One – Selections: 1. Little Wonder • 2. Looking For Satellites • 3. Battle For Britain • 4. Seven Years In Tibet • 5. Dead Man Walking • 6. Telling Lies • 7. The Last Thing You Should Do • 8. I’m Afraid Of Americans • 9. Law (Earthlings On Fire).
Disc Two – Selections: 1. Little Wonder (Censored Video Edit) • 2. Little Wonder (Junior Vasquez Club Mix) • 3. Little Wonder (Danny Saber Dance Mix) • 4. Seven Years In Tibet (Mandarin Version) • 5. Dead Man Walking (Moby Mix 1) • 6. Dead Man Walking (Moby Mix 2 US Promo 12”) • 7. Telling Lies (Feelgood Mix) • 8. Telling Lies (Paradox Mix) • 9. I’m Afraid Of Americans (Show Girls OST version) • 10. I’m Afraid Of Americans (Nine Inch Nails V1 Mix) • 11. I’m Afraid Of Americans (Nine Inch Nails V1 Clean Edit) • 12. V-2 Schneider (Tao Jones Index) • 13. Pallas Athena (Tao Jones Index). (Bonus disc issued 2004, for Sony International two-CD version.)
This transitional album, recorded in Bermuda, found Bowie returning to live instruments in the studio after previously working in the electronica format. After the back-to-back anschluss of the last two albums, Bowie’s final statement of the century was as passionate and introspective as the greatest of his early recordings, especially Hunky Dory, to which ’HOURS has often been compared. The seeds of this album were sown in early ’99 when Bowie was commissioned to create music for “Omikron: The Nomad Soul,” a computer game in which he and his wife Iman were characters. At least two of those tracks, the international hit single “Thursday’s Child” and “Survive,” turned up (re-recorded) for this album. Bowie’s emotional resonance also poured out on the glam-bombastic anthem, “All The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell.” Significantly, this marked Bowie’s final album with guitarist Reeves Gabrels, his musical partner for a decade, since the Tin Machine phase. This album also turned out to be his third and final studio album for Virgin Records as he moved to Columbia.
’hours…’ by DAVID BOWIE (ISO/Columbia/Legacy, originally issued October 1999, as Virgin 48157) Disc One – Selections: 1. Thursday’s Child • 2. Something In The Air • 3. Survive • 4. If I’m Dreaming My Life • 5. Seven • 6. What’s Really Happening? • 7. The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell • 8. New Angels Of Compromise • 9. Brilliant Adventure • 10. The Dreamers.
Disc Two – Selections: 1. Thursday’s Child (Rock Mix) • 2. Thursday’s Child (Omikron: The Nomad Soul slower version) • 3. Something In The Air (American Psycho Remix) • 4. Survive (Marius DeVries UK CD Single) • 5. Seven (Demo) • 6. Seven (Maurius DeVries Mix) • 7. Seven (Beck Mix #1) • 8. Seven (Beck Mix #2) • 9. The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell (Edit) • 10. The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell (Stigmata film version) • 11. The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell (Stigmata film only version) • 12. New Angels Of Promise (Omikron:The Nomad Soul version) • 13. The Dreamers (Omikron: The Nomad Soul longer version) • 14. 1917 • 15. We Shall Go To Town • 16. We All Go Through • 17. No-one Calls. (Bonus disc issued 2004, for Sony International two-CD version.)
This was another major transitional album for Bowie – the first release on his own ISO label distributed by Columbia. For the occasion, he turned to producer Tony Visconti, who worked on some of the most critically successful and best-selling LPs of Bowie’s career, going back to The Man Who Sold the World (1972), and Young Americans (1975), the aforementioned “Berlin Trilogy,” and Scary Monsters (1980). Visconti and Bowie first re-united in 1998, on a pair of one-off non-album singles, but with an entire album to play with four years later, they came up with Bowie’s highest-charting record in nearly two decades. Recorded in upstate New York, it attracted immediate attention with a record-setting (for Bowie) three cover versions, from Neil Young (“I’ve Been Waiting For You”), Frank Black of the Pixies (“Cactus”), and the Legendary Stardust Cowboy (“I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship”). Earlier in 2000, Bowie had begun to record an album entitled Toy, which was shelved, but at least two of its songs (primal versions of “Slip Away” and “Afraid”) were re-cut for HEATHEN.
HEATHEN by DAVID BOWIE (ISO/Columbia/Legacy, originally issued June 2002, as Columbia 86630) Disc One – Selections: 1. Sunday • 2. Cactus • 3. Slip Away • 4. Slow Burn • 5. Afraid • 6. I’ve Been Waiting For You • 7. I Would Be Your Slave • 8. I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship • 9. 5:15 The Angels Have Gone • 10. Everyone Says ‘Hi’ • 11. A Better Future • 12. Heathen (The Rays).
Disc Two – Selections: 1. Sunday (Moby Remix) • 2. A Better Future (Remix by Air) • 3. Conversation Piece (2002 re-record) • 4. Panic In Detroit (1979 Outtake) • 5. Wood Jackson • 6. When The Boys Come Marching Home • 7. Baby Loves That Way • 8. You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving • 9. Safe • 10. Shadow Man. (Bonus disc issued 2007, for limited edition Sony Japan two-CD version.)
It hardly seems four years ago that Bowie and Visconti’s second latter-day collaboration was released, Bowie’s most recent output, except for the DVD titled A Reality Tour (issued 13 months later). In addition to a stellar program of new songs that harkened back to the best of Hunky Dory and Scary Monsters, this also also presented two surprise cover versions: George Harrison’s “Try Some, Buy Some” and “Pablo Picasso” via Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers. The ensuing world tour, which began the following year, was named the highest-grossing tour of 2004, despite the fact that it was cut short by illness. Though Bowie continues to work, REALITY now holds the record for kicking off the longest period in history between studio albums by the Thin White Duke.
REALITY by DAVID BOWIE (ISO/Columbia/Legacy, originally issued September 2003, as Columbia 90576) Disc One – Selections: 1. New Killer Star • 2. Pablo Picasso • 3. Never Get Old • 4. The Loneliest Guy • 5. Looking For Water • 6. She’ll Drive The Big Car • 7. Days • 8. Fall Dog Bombs The Moon • 9. Try Some, Buy Some • 10. Reality • 11. Bring Me The Disco King.
Disc Two – Selections: 1. Waterloo Sunset • 2. Fly • 3. Queen Of All The Tarts (Overture) • 4. Rebel Rebel • 5. Love Missile F1 Eleven • 6. Rebel Never Gets Old (Radio Mix) • 7. Rebel Never Gets Old (7th Heaven Edit) • 8. Rebel Never Gets Old (7th heaven Mix). (Bonus disc issued 2007, for limited edition Sony Japan two-CD version.)