Posts Tagged ‘David Bowie’

Stevie ray vaughan with david bowie the 1983 rehearsal broadcast double lp gatefold coloured 76939 1

In January 1983, David Bowie invited Stevie Ray Vaughan to record guitar for six new tracks he’d written for his upcoming album, “Let s Dance”. Vaughan’s powerful and unique guitar work brought a fresh sound to Bowie’s music, most famously on songs like China Girl and the record s title track. With the album a success, Bowie was keen for Vaughan to join his group for the subsequent “Serious Moonlight Tour”. However, with Vaughan reluctant to leave his own band Double Trouble (who had just finished recording their debut album, “Texas Flood”), David’s management offered to let the group open the show on select tour dates. However, just four days before the tour began, Bowie’s team reneged, telling Vaughan’s manager, Chesley Millikin,that the band would not be included and, furthermore, Vaughan wasn’t allowed to talk about the group or its new record in interviews. With the offer pulled, Milikin understandably took Vaughan off the tour. And although both artists still achieved huge critical and commercial success during the 1980s, what they might have gone on to do together remains one of rock’s great “What Ifs”. No video footage of Bowie and Vaughan performing together is known to exist. However, rehearsals for the tour, which took place at the Las Colinas Soundstage in Dallas – Stevie Ray’s hometown – on 26th April 1983, were not only recorded but broadcast on local radio too, thus allowing these legendary sessions to be heard again today.

This is interesting to hear the clever musical arrangements particularly the crisp horn sounds and backing vocals. Stevie Ray Vaughan played guitar here and was due to be a part of the touring band. His contributions are pretty much what you’d expect rather than anything fiery or super- inventive.
Bowie and the backing singers make some mistakes particularly Life on Mars, Golden Years and Red Sails, on which Bowie seems to be trying to find the correct voice.
It’s a must-have for fans but please be aware that 132 minutes were broadcast.

Stevie Ray Vaughan and David Bowie live 1983 rehearsal broadcast for the Serious Moonlight Tour! From An FM Radio Broadcast Recorded At The Las Calinas Soundstage, Dallas, TX, 26th April 1983. 19 tracks total including China Girland Let’s Dance.

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In October of 2015, I got an email from Amy Russell, the Director of Programming at Carolina Performing Arts. She told me about a celebration of Philip Glass’ 80th birthday planned for January of 2017 and asked if I would want to be involved somehow—and without knowing what that would entail, I just said “yes.” Soon she proposed pairing a symphonic performance of Glass’ Symphony No. 4, which is based on David Bowie’s “Heroes” album, with a rock performance of the Bowie album.

This was an exciting idea, but performing an album straight in its entirety always feels a little boring to me because everyone familiar with the record knows what’s coming next… but in Glass’ case, his symphony does not adhere strictly to the track listing of the original Bowie album, which meant that we didn’t need to, either. I was mostly excited about being able to collaborate with musicians I don’t normally get to play with, and to play this amazing music with them.

Three months later, David Bowie’s death hit everyone hard and we discussed whether to move ahead, but as 2016 progressed, Bowie’s music only seemed more important. When everyone I asked to take part said “yes” immediately even though the concert was a year away and we didn’t know what shape it would take it was a good sign.

Eventually, we settled on a set list that was a combination of Glass’ (which added “Abdulmajid” to the album’s tracks) and our own desire to hear Dan Bejar sing “Beauty and the Beast” and “Joe the Lion,” which Glass left off his.

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Brad Cook, Joe Westerlund, and I got together once or twice to learn the songs because we knew we would only have one real rehearsal with the whole band. When DanWilliam Tyler, and Ken Vandermark descended upon Chapel Hill and Jenn Wasner returned from tour, we had a great day figuring out how to play these songs all together, and convened for the performance the next day in ornate Memorial Hall.

Halfway through soundcheck on the day of the performance, we learned that all water in the town of Chapel Hill was deemed unsafe to drink due to a water main break and a pump failure in the great Orange County water system. UNC campus had to be abandoned, and the show was cancelled. We staged a secret last-minute performance at the Pinhook (in Durham, where the water is always safe) just because we wanted to play this record, but the actual show at Memorial Hall was postponed by a month. So the recording you hear is actually our band reunion and the second-ever performance of A Merge Group. And the “Heroes” on the record is our version of Glass’ version of Bowie’s classic record. So much fun to play, and I’m glad there’s a document. From Mac McCaughan:

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Dan Bejar started Destroyer as a solo home-recording project in the early to mid-nineties. Exploring and overturning genres such as glam, MIDI, yacht rock, and even underground Spanish independent artists, Bejar was proclaimed “Rock’s Exiled King” . His is a body of work that consistently flouts convention in favor of musical leaps of faith, statements of purpose cloaked in subterfuge, and the joyous refrain of an optimist’s heart cloaked in cynicism.

Released by :Merge Records Release date: 8th February 2019

All this week, we’re presenting “[W]hat may well have been among New York City’s best live shows this year [2018]” recordings of the performances of David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy: Low(1977), “Heroes”(1977), and 1979’s Lodger, and the music that inspired the trilogy. In the week where we mark the anniversaries of Bowie’s birth and his death, you can hear those stunning performances of Bowie’s music and the works that inspired it.

One album was performed in its entirety each night—Lodger on the 17th, “Heroes” on the 18th, and Low on the 19th—and each concert will open with short programs of music that inspired the trilogy composed by Brian Eno and Klaus Schulze.

Recorded at Brookfield Place in October of 2018, the cast of players was led by Shearwater/Loma’s Jonathan Meiburg and featured current and past members of Shearwater, Deerhoof, Dirty Projectors, Wordless Music Orchestra, Xiu Xiu, Battle Trance, Glass Ghost, and Loma, along with special guest, Carlos Alomar (David Bowie’s guitarist and musical director for 30 years.) Also, hear music that inspired the trilogy: Brian Eno’s “Discreet Music,” and selections from Another Green World (1975), and “Body Love” by Klaus Schulze.

Jonathan Meiburg, in the program, writes that “[T]hese albums are the pinnacle of [Bowie’s] musical and artistic output…the Berlin Trilogy has everything: brooding, cinematic instrumentals, rave-ups that end almost before they begin, gorgeous ballads that threaten to collapse on themselves, and Bowie’s most famous and expansive song. Jonathan Meiburg had begun rehearsing a few songs from Lodger with his band Shearwater. Then Bowie passed, and it seemed like an encore or two of “Look Back in Anger” wasn’t enough. They figured out how to play the whole album, and then wanted more. Meanwhile, the band’s Emily Lee had already begun the herculean task of scoring out the albums’ impenetrable ambient epics.

Shearwater decided to begin with Lodger, the album they knew best and was easiest to play, which also meant the series would end with Low’s loveliest and most confounding moments. They also decided to bring in some friends, including saxophonist Travis Laplante and Deerhoof shredder Ed Rodriguez. While Bowie had at least a dozen singers in his body, they split the songs into three, more or less: Meiburg, Lee, and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart. It was a series of smart decisions for a strange locale.

Wordless kicked off the first night with a statement of intent: Eno’s Discreet Music, reenvisioned as wafts of guitar, cello, and electronics for a platonic ideal of mall music. Lodger is the most accessible in the trilogy, but it’s hardly Muzak—especially its wildest moments Bowie never attempted to play live. The deeply weird “African Night Flight” was all squalls and lumbering rhythms and rapid-fire monologue from Stewart, while “Move On”—essentially Bowie’s “All the Young Dudes” played backwards—sounded live like some blend of the Who and Pornography-era Cure. And the, as Meiburg put it, “unfortunately timely” “Boys Keep Swinging” was a sleazy riot.

In the rehearsals I sat in on, the band seemed deeply nervous about tackling “Heroes.” And yet, piled into a warehouse’s small soundproofed room with views of the toxic Gowanus Canal instead of the Wall, they’d managed to make the beloved title track sound new, anchored by Power’s amiable bass and Meiburg’s affectionate melancholy set against Stewart’s anguished wailing. On stage, they did it again, and tore through the first side’s “Beauty and the Beast” and especially the psychotic broken beats of “Blackout” with relish before launching into the second side’s moody complexity.

It’s possible to play these songs, Meiburg had told Schaefer in an interlude, as long as you stop thinking “and just glide over the top of it.” As Lee plucked her koto and Stewart caressed a gong for “Moss Garden,” we were all gliding along with them. And then we were plummeting deep into “Neuköln,” the low point of “Heroes,” which they performed as a kind of Badalamenti-goes-to-Berlin noir with an almost ridiculous finale courtesy of Laplante’s bravura sax solo. How could this possibly be followed? “Luckily, this album comes with its own encore,” Meiburg joked, referring to the slinky “The Secret Life of Arabia,” which closed the night with the kind of release only disco handclaps can offer.

Speaking of release, on the final night Wordless dug up a 1977 porn soundtrack by Klaus Schulze as a prelude to Low, and cellist Clarice Jensen filled her arrangement of the krautrock icon’s Body Love with wild drones and spurts of percussion—a real treat, especially with surprise guest Shahzad Ismaily on Moog. Schaefer also came with a surprise: Bowie’s longtime collaborator Carlos Alomar, who explained that completing the trilogy took “curiosity, courage—oh, and a half-million-dollar budget.”

Meiburg and company had plenty of the first two, launching into Low with a fairly nonchalant “Speed of Life,” the album’s opening credits, and a menacing take on “Breaking Glass” in which Stewart howled “you’re such a wonderful person/but you’ve got PROBLEMS” and Meiburg whispered in response, “I’ll never touch you.” The moment was fraught. But the real killer of Low is side two. In rehearsals, Meiburg had counted out the beats for “Warszawa” as the group found the math in its midsts. On stage, before the largest and loudest audience of the series, Alomar came out and conducted, his presence almost pastoral. Blessed, they carried on, playing “Weeping Wall” with a lack of preciousness that turned Bowie’s proto-post-rock beauty into an ersatz Morricone Western. “Subterraneans,” Low’s highlight, was a different frontier altogether: still alien, still bleak, but newly inhabitable.

The crowd stood and cheered, visions of Bowie in our heads, looking back in wonder at where we are now. Just blocks from where Bowie passed, the city paid its respects the way it always does: by reinventing the past. The Berlin trilogy might be history, but it’s full of living songs,

John Schaefer continues:

Bowie actually began referring to his “Berlin Trilogy” only in the promotional phase leading up to Lodger’s release. In retrospect, all three albums reflect the city – its darkness, its cultural ferment, its isolation. Working with Brian Eno, and Tony Visconti, Bowie produced some of his most memorable rock songs, and some of his edgiest. But he also surprised and confounded the listening public by devoting large stretches of each record to musical experiments that departed not only from the world of rock but from the song format itself.

The lasting impact of these three albums has been felt not just in the world of rock but in contemporary classical music as well. Philip Glass was moved to write a series of symphonies based on the trilogy: his Lodger Symphony completes that trilogy and premieres in 2019. Subsequent generations of composers and musicians have grown up with the freedom to move among the various musical worlds that Bowie explored in these three pivotal albums. For proof, you need only look at the musicians in these concerts: they represent a gathering of the tribes, from the worlds of indie rock, but also from New York’s thriving contemporary music scene – many are part of both camps, and some are composers themselves.”

The band Members:

Timo Andres (piano, synthesizer)

Angel Deradoorian (flute, voice, synthesizer) launched a solo career after making a name for herself with well-known acts such as Dirty Projectors, Avey Tare, and Flying Lotus. In 2009, she appeared on Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca, released her first solo EP under the name Deradoorian and lent her vocal talents to LP, the debut album from Discovery (founded by Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend and Wesley Miles of Ra Ra Riot). In 2015, she released her long-awaited solo album, The Expanding Flower Planet (2015), Eternal Recurrence, her second release released in 2017.

Dan Duszynski (guitar, voice, percussion) He is also the drummer of ethereal rock band Loma (Sub Pop).

Greg Fox (drums) is a New York City born-and-bred drummer, He has played on and released 49 records since 2008, including his work with Liturgy, ZS, Ben Frost, Colin Stetson, Skeletons, Hieroglyphic Being, Man Forever, and others, named “Best Drummer in NYC” by the Village Voice in 2011. Currently spending most of his time in NYC,

Josh Halpern (drums) is a live and session drummer, singer, and producer based in Austin, Texas and is known for his infectiously animated performances. He’s most at home on the road with bands like Shearwater, Still Corners, Marmalakes and Palo Duro His most recent studio recording is Nights and Weekends, a collaboration with songwriter Peter Shults, released under the name Teddy Glass.

Clarice Jensen (cello, electronics) is the artistic director of ACME, She has collaborated with composers and recording artists, including Jóhann Jóhannsson, Stars of the Lid, Owen Pallett, Max Richter, Tyondai Braxton, and numerous others.

Eliot Krimsky (synthesizer) played keyboards with Here We Go Magic and Meshell Ndegeocello, He is currently preparing his first solo album, Wave in Time.

Travis Laplante (tenor saxophone) is a saxophonist, composer, and qigong practitioner living in Brooklyn, New York, Laplante leads Battle Trance, the acclaimed tenor saxophone quartet, as well as Subtle Degrees,

Emily Lee (musical director, keyboards, voice, koto, violin) is a New York-based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. She performs in Shearwater, Loma, and Snake Oil, and plays keyboards with Mutoid Man for the heavy metal talk show Two Minutes to Late Night.

Frank LoCrasto (synthesizer) is a Texas-born, Brooklyn-based musician, He has appeared on more than 40 records.

Grey Mcmurray (guitar, bass, voice) has been called “sublimely odd” (New York Magazine), and “the world’s least obtrusive guitarist” (The Guardian). Recently he has been performing as a duo with Beth Orton, Colin Stetson’s Sorrow Ensemble, He is the co-leader of the duo itsnotyouitsme with Caleb Burhans, with four releases on New Amsterdam Records.

Jonathan Meiburg (voice, guitar) leads the band Shearwater, which has released six albums since 2006 on Matador and Sub Pop Records. The most recent, 2016’s Jet Plane and Oxbow, and the band’s live performance of Lodger for the Onion’s A.V. Club inspired them to take on Bowie’s entire Berlin trilogy. Meiburg also performs with Loma, whose self-titled debut was released this year by Sub Pop and is currently finishing a book about South America’s strangest birds of prey. He lives in Brooklyn.

Lucas Oswald (guitar, voice) is a songwriter, He has toured internationally with Minus Story, Old Canes, Appleseed Cast, Jesca Hoop, and Shearwater.

Sadie Powers (bass)  She tours with Shearwater and recently toured with Lucy Dacus. Her composition, Wick (for french horn, water glasses, and electronics), was recorded in Spring 2018 by the avant-garde trio How Things Are Made and appears on the trio’s album, She comprises half the electroacoustic ambient duo, Triptychs, and was the bassist for the new romantic band Dead Fame, which released albums Frontiers (2011) and Vicious Design (2014).

Ed Rodriguez (guitar) has been around far too long  He currently plays guitar in Deerhoof.

Jamie Stewart (voice, percussion) He began the musical group Xiu Xiu in 2002.

Carlos Alomar (special guest) was David Bowie’s rhythm guitarist and music director for almost thirty years. His songwriting credits include “Fame” with Bowie and John Lennon, as well as “DJ” and “The Secret Life Of Arabia” with Bowie and Brian Eno.

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New release time once again, and there is a healthy whack of excellent reissues this week, with Kate Bush taking the top spot with Aerial, The Directors Cut and 50 Words For Snow all landing. As well as all of the individual albums, part 2 of the ‘Remastered’ box set seeing it’s release as well as the vinyl counterparts, Remastered In Vinyl Parts III and IV.

This week also the latest in a long line of much anticipated Fall live shows from the mid 90’s with Derby in ’94 and London in ’95 both show the range and excitement of the live show’s they were so well known for.

There is brand new album from Liverpool band ‘The Fernweh’ to be released on James Skelly’s (of The Coral fame) label, Skeleton Key Records. Psychedelic hooks, folky ruminations and shimmering acoustic meanderings. It’s a beautiful thing indeed. Plus A new full-length from Johnny Flynn. 

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Neil Young – Songs For Judy

Songs For Judy is the debut release on Shakey Pictures Records, Young’s own imprint distributed by Reprise Records. Songs For Judy is thoroughly engaging collection of live acoustic performances culled from Neil’s November 1976 solo tour and features twenty-two songs recorded at various cities along the tour. This song cycle of live recordings is particularly powerful and unique. Young had spent much of the year traveling around the world on tour with Crazy Horse. When touring on his own, he recharged and focused on songs that would not surface in recorded form for several years. Of the albums many treasures, No One Seems To Know would not see the light of day until now and it remains unreleased in any other iteration. The raw versions of the tracks found on Songs For Judy reflect an artist completely unvarnished and unafraid to allow the songs to breath and to find their own shape when performed in a solo setting. Songs written in that era would come into focus and then seemingly disappear only to re-enter Young’s orbit somewhere down the road. White Line and Give Me Strength are such examples of finding the light in 1990 and 2017 respectively. It’s also fascinating to hear Young revisit early gems such as Springfield’s Mr. Soul (’67), Here We Are In The Years (’68), andThe Losing End (’69) from some of his earliest solo recordings which remain as timeless as ever.

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Johnny Flynn And The Sussex Wit – Live At The Roundhouse

‘Live At The Roundhouse’ is an electric performance of ten years’ worth of songs; recorded without overdubs, it pays homage to the past whilst pointing propitiously to the group’s future. The album also features a bonus studio cut; the much requested and never released 3-verse rendition of Johnny’s ‘Detectorists’ theme.

Live At The Roundhouse’ is 24 tracks long and pulled from a decade’s worth of music. Fans will hear renditions of songs from Johnny’s “Masterclass” (4/5 The Independent) debut album ‘A Larum’, sophomore ‘Been Listening’, an album “radical in its honesty” (8/10 Drowned in Sound), ‘Country Mile’, “an extremely clever and nuanced record” (Mojo) and his most recent effort, ‘Sillion’, which explored the idea of man’s endeavour to connect with the earth while separated from it; “Another exploratory and remarkably high-caliber LP” (AllMusic 4.5/5). The album also features a bonus studio cut; the much requested and never released 3-verse rendition of Johnny’s ‘Detectorists’ theme. Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit are without a doubt one of the most consistently exhilarating live bands around, inspiring an undying devotion among fans and peers who will cherish ‘Live At The Roundhouse’ for its gritty and impassioned renditions of now-classic songs.

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The Fernweh – The Fernweh

Recorded in seclusion on the North Yorkshire coast and transporting listeners on musical journey. Three friends, Jamie Backhouse (guitars), Ned Crowther (vocals and guitar) and Oz Murphy (keys/saxophone) gathered to make the album they always knew they could make, based on a pure and profound love for a golden era for British and US folk rock. Wringing every last drop of their combined experience into a cup that overflows with melody, song craft and deeply evocative imagery of a quintessentially British era of ‘mainstream psychedelia’, they are joined by Maja Agnevik (vocals/flute)and Phil Murphy (drummer).

Melodies and stories inspired by distinctly British, coal-fired version of 60s/70s psychedelia. Layered vocal harmonies, gentle, steam-train percussion and strokes of piano, acoustic guitars and subtle string arrangements are a feature of this sublime and compelling debut. A return journey into Britain’s explosively creative, post-war period. Arriving back in 2018, the band uses such deeply evocative influences to deliver an irrepressible psych-pop-folk non-genre record.

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David Bowie –  Glastonbury 2000

DAVID BOWIE ‘GLASTONBURY 2000’ documents Bowie’s legendary Sunday night headline performance on 25th June at the most famous festival on earth. The legendary full performance released for the first time including many of David’s greatest hits and never before seen footage.

All formats feature David’s diary, originally written for Time Out, which documents him preparing for the show in his own inimitable manner. In addition to newly mastered audio and upgraded video DAVID BOWIE ‘GLASTONBURY 2000’ features new artwork from Jonathan Barnbrook (who worked with Bowie on the sleeves for Heathen, The Next Day & ★) and notes from the renowned author and Bowie fan Caitlin Moran who reviewed the show for The Times.

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Jeff Tweedy  –  Warm

Jeff Tweedy releases Warm, a solo album of all new material via dBpm Records. Warm was produced and recorded entirely by Jeff at his now legendary Loft Studio in Chicago’s  (with help from some of his usual collaborators – Spencer Tweedy, Glenn Kotche and Tom Schick). Warmfollows the acoustic retrospective release, Together at Last (2017), and Wilco’s 2016 album, Schmilco.

It is a tender manifesto of self-doubt, a shout fading into a murmur. It’s a journey beyond self-consciousness and towards mature vulnerability, to an evolved idea of what is musically pure.

A brief inquiry into online relationships

The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Winners of 2017’s Best British Group at the BRIT Awards, The 1975 release their 3rd album ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships.’ 
The album is a follow up to ‘I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it,’ which charted at Number 1 on both sides of the Atlantic going Platinum in the UK in the process.

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Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers – Bought To Rot

14 tracks spanning Laura Jane Grace’s fractured relationship with her adopted hometown of Chicago, true friendship, complicated romance, and reconciling everything in the end, Bought to Rot stands as the most musically diverse collection of songs Grace has written to date.

Inspired in large part by Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever, the first album Grace ever owned, Bought to Rot finds her at the same age Petty was when he created his solo debut masterpiece. In light of his recent passing, Grace was motivated to pay homage to one of her lifelong heroes.

Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers are Laura Jane Grace, Atom Willard, and Marc Jacob Hudson. Grace is a musician, author, and activist best known as the founder, lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the punk rock band Against Me!. Willard, also of Against Me!, is a drummer who has played in iconic punk bands such as Rocket from the Crypt, Social Distortion, and The Offspring. Devouring Mothers bassist Hudson is a recordist and mixer at Rancho Recordo, a recording studio and creative space in the woods of Michigan, and the sound engineer for Against Me

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Batts  –  62 Moons

Batts is the moniker for Melbourne based singer-songwriter Tanya Batt, and this is her mesmerising and melancholic debut EP 62 Moons. Named after the 62 Moons of Saturn, the obsession with space is an underlying theme throughout the record, from the Nasa recording of Saturn’s rings which opens the recording, to the EP title. Batts explains “I had the thought of combining the music we create as humans, with the natural music of things out in space that have existed for billions and billions of years. I want to instil knowledge of space within music to people, but not via lyrics – via sounds.”

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The Fall – The Rough Trade Singles

The Rough Trade Singles collects The Fall’s four singles recorded for this influential label in 1980 and 1983 – How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’ / City Hobgoblins, Totally Wired / Putta Block, The Man Whose Head Expanded / Ludd Gang and Kicker Conspiracy – none of which appeared on any of the band’s studio LPs. With 7-inches being the era’s vehicle for buzzing communiqués, The Fall would use the format for short-form, standalone works rather than as mere promotional devices for forthcoming albums.

“Totally Wired” is often cited (and rightfully so) as The Fall’s most infectious tune – an amphetamine-fueled anthem with stuttering nods to forebears, yet too incisive to have been made by anyone else. “How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man'” is another mad hoedown, one reimagined for the post-punk age. While the playful rhythm machine on “The Man Whose Head Expanded” almost suggests danceability, Mark E. Smith’s idiosyncratic shriek on “Kicker Conspiracy” pierces through the twin drumming of Paul Hanley and Karl Burns and the group’s unpredictable / unmistakable racket. Together these songs remain some of the absolute best material The Fall would ever release.

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Bill Callahan – Live at Third Man Nashville

Bill Callahan, aka Smog, is simultaneously a staple of strange American country, lo-fi, folk and independent music. His lyricism comes across as challenging and deeply autobiographical, equal parts “poetry leaning on true-to-life darkness” and “three chords and the truth.” So, it is fitting that Callahan’s live set would command the same sense of friendliness-with-difficulty that the recorded songs do. With brief, candid, and charming interludes between older and newer material, an outsider can hear that this performance was obviously a full-bodied (and multi-era) engagement, no space left for distraction. The full album is an experience; make it one you look after.

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DIIV  –  Covers

Originally shared on DIIV’s YouTube channel and then later given away on a limited edition cassette run of 50 copies at an acoustic DIIV show in a synagogue in New York City, Captured Tracks now presents a vinyl version of Zachary Cole Smith’s lauded Sparklehorse and (Sandy) Alex G covers. Pressed on Clear Vinyl and limited to 500 copies to celebrate Captured Tracks’ 10th Anniversary.

Sleeve for Lou Reed's Transformer

Commercial success and critical acclaim together or apart are not really the true measure of an artist’s work. History and public acceptance can ‘transform’ the perspective and create a re-evaluation, or revisionist history towards how the art is viewed. No other work quite typifies this more than Lou Reed with his second solo effort “Transformer”.

Transformer is an incarnation of Reed at his most tuneful and accessible, just right for an almost-teenager. Just wrong, you might say. If the swooping basslines and whooping choruses drew me in, the lyrics kept me riveted and puzzling. “Shaved her legs and then he was a she” I could work out. But what was the “Up-all-oh”? “Angel dust”? “Giving head”? What about “hustler”? Oh, how Google would have helped me then

With the Velvet Underground, Reed became a beacon to the outsider experience and while album sales were low, critics and musicians had found a kind of anti-hero on whom to heap praise. Once the Velvets had broken up, Reed continued his stories and of counter-culture misfits but to a more commercialized effect on Transformer. Produced by David Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson, Transformer would be heavily influenced by Bowie’s then ‘glam’ movement and blur the same androgynous lines can be heard singing backing vocals (his falsetto seems obvious on Satellite of Love, . However, Reed would use his own brand of wry observation and deadpan delivery to create characters that lived with and amongst his crowd as opposed to embodying the characters space as Bowie did with Ziggy and Aladdin Sane.

As with its predecessor Lou Reed, Transformer contains songs Reed composed while still in the Velvet Underground (here, four out of ten). “Andy’s Chest” was first recorded by the band in 1969 and “Satellite of Love” demoed in 1970; these versions were released on VU and Peel Slowly and See, respectively. For Transformer, the original up-tempo pace of these songs was slowed down.

“New York Telephone Conversation” and “Goodnight Ladies” are known to have been played live during the band’s summer 1970 residency at Max’s Kansas City; the latter takes its title refrain from the last line of the second section (“A Game of Chess”) of T. S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land: “Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.”, which is itself a quote from Ophelia in Hamlet.

As in Reed’s Velvet Underground days, the connection to artist Andy Warhol remained strong. According to Reed, Warhol told him he should write a song about someone vicious. When Reed asked what he meant by vicious, Warhol replied, “Oh, you know, like I hit you with a flower”,resulting in the song “Vicious”.

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Oddly, it was “Walk On The Wild Side” a song that spoke of transsexuality, oral sex and drug use that propelled the album to heights neither seen by the Velvet Underground or Reed himself in previous efforts. It wouldn’t be until the 1990’s that “Perfect Day” would become an underground hit. The supposed ode to his drug habit, Perfect Day, only works because, no matter who the song is dedicated to, it is a beautiful ballad. Then there is the epic, neon-drenched goodbye to his association with Andy Warhol and his factory acolytes,

On its release in 1972, Transformer was given mixed reviews by critics who claimed it was overly “art-y” and overly sexual. History of course has shed new light and Transformer has made just about every magazines ‘Best All-Time’ list. There was a BBC documentary devoted entirely to Walk on the Wild Side. My questions were answered. There was Holly, who did indeed “come from Miami FLA”. It turned out “Up-all-oh” was the Apollo theatre in Harlem, and “Sugar Plum fairy” a drug dealer. Though Candy and Jackie had departed this world, Joe Dallesandro was there, wistfully contemplating wasted opportunities. And then there was Lou – decked out in leather jacket and leathery skin – complaining about people using Walk on the Wild Side without permission.

Despite, or maybe due to its recognition, finding vinyl editions of Transformer is pretty easy, but figuring out what works best for you might get a little more difficult. You can find used copies pretty much anywhere. I’m sure a lot of people who bought Transformer to get similar material to “Walk On The Wild Side” only to find that it wasn’t like that. As for new, eight official vinyl editions have come out since 2004 with four in just the last three years. On RSD 2012 a straight re-issue was put out in record stores, and is still the most common new copy you will find. In 2013 – 2014 unofficial green and blue versions were released in the UK. Finally, a few weeks ago Newbury Comics put out a Limited Edition half black and half gold version. There were 1200 copies printed and each was gold stamp numbered.

Due to the sheer amount of what is available, you can get most copies of Transformer for less than $30.00 (including the unofficial UK copies). Only the Newbury edition is commanding high prices on the resale market, and that’s pretty damn silly, because you can still get a copy from Newbury for less than $30.00. The split colour looks awesome and indeed sounds great.

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You can get it here. Anyway, with his recent induction into the “Rock Hall of fame” you can expect some renewed interest and copies of Transformer may begin to disappear. You might want to give that some thought this time if you’ve been sitting on the fence.

Last November, on the 45th anniversary of Lou Reed’s legendary Transformer album, photographer Mick Rock joined Rolling Stone editor David Fricke in a conversation for readers at the New York Public Library. Marking the anniversary, Mick kindly signed 45 bookplates specially for readers around the globe. Accordingly, 45 Collector copies are now available, each additionally including:

  • The new 24-page booklet with an essay by Mick Rock and 50 previously unpublished photographs
  • The looseleaf ‘Rock and Roll Heart’ facsimile handwritten lyric sheet
  • The commemorative New York Public Library bookplate signed by Mick Rock on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of Transformer
  • Transformer book bag and publishing prospectus

Transformer

David Bowie Glastonbury 2000′ 3x vinyl LP set, Released Friday 30th November

DAVID BOWIE ‘Glastonbury 2000’ documents Bowie’s legendary Sunday night headline performance on 25th June at the most famous festival on earth. The legendary full performance is released for the first time including many of David’s greatest hits. While often regarded as one of the greatest sets in Glasto history, the Sunday night closing show has never been released on video or audio in its entirety.

The package includes the full 21 song greatest hits set including the Glastonbury performance of ‘Heroes’, a highlight of the record breaking ‘David Bowie Is…’ exhibition and the only track that has been previously released.

This 3LP set also features David’s diary, originally written for Time Out magazine, which documents him preparing for the show in his own inimitable manner. In addition to newly mastered audio, David Bowie Glastonbury 2000′ features new artwork from Jonathan Barnbrook (who worked with Bowie on the sleeves for Heathen, The Next Day & ★) and notes from the renowned author and Bowie fan Caitlin Moran who reviewed the show for The Times.

The Glastonbury box set will also include a reproduction of a diary Bowie kept for Time Out, in which he documented his preparations for the headlining gig. A snippet of the diary reads, “As of 1990 I got through the rest of the 20th century without having to do a big hits show. Yes, yes, I know I did four or five hits on the later shows but I held out pretty well I thought… big, well known songs will litter the field at Glastonbury this year. Well, with a couple of quirks of course.”

The package features photos of Bowie resplendently dressed in a 3/4 length one-of-a-kind Alexander McQueen frock coat, the pattern of which was made to echo the hat (the famous ‘bipperty-bopperty hat’ mentioned in the song Queen Bitch) and worn by David at his Glastonbury Fayre debut in 1971.

“I often get asked what the best set I’ve seen here at Glastonbury is, and Bowie’s 2000 performance is always one which I think of first,” said Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis. “It was spellbinding; he had an absolutely enormous crowd transfixed. I think Bowie had a very deep relationship with Worthy Farm and he told some wonderful stories about his first time at the Festival in 1971, when he stayed at the farmhouse and performed at 6am as the sun was rising. And he just played the perfect headline set.

Don’t forget to watch the DAVID BOWIE ‘GLASTONBURY 2000’ hour-long special on BBC4, Friday 19th October!

For David Bowie, the 1980s were years of tremendous ch-ch-changes, in which the stylistic chameleon went mainstream to great success, experienced some artistic disappointments, and solidified his place in the pantheon as a legend of rock.  Now, this era is being looked back upon in the fourth annual volume of Parlophone’s ongoing series of box sets dedicated to the late superstar. Loving the Alien (1983-1988) will arrive on October 12th in 11CD and 15LP vinyl configurations.

This lavish set is filled with more exclusive material than any of its predecessors, as only three studio albums are included, all in newly remastered editions: Let’s Dance (1983), Tonight (1984), and Never Let Me Down (1987). Loving the Alien also premieres a new version of the latter album, for which Bowie’s friend and producer Mario McNulty has completely re-recorded the instrumentation with the artist’s collaborators Reeves Gabrels (guitar), David Torn (guitar), Sterling Campbell (drums), Tim Lefebvre (bass), and a string quartet with arrangements by Nico Mulhy plus an appearance by Laurie Anderson on “Shining Star (Makin’ My Love).”  This new version of Never Let Me Down is rooted in McNulty’s 2008 re-production of “Time Will Crawl” which featured new drums and strings.  Its success prompted Bowie to comment, “Oh, to redo the rest of that album.” McNulty has now made good on Bowie’s wish.  (Note that “Too Dizzy,” which Bowie requested be removed from Never Let Me Down following the original LP pressing, remains missing in action.

Additionally, the box includes the remastered live set Glass Spider: Live Montreal ’87, the previously unreleased Serious Moonlight live album recorded in Vancouver in 1983, a new collection of period remixes entitled Dance, and the fourth volume of odds-and-ends series RE:CALL.  Dance (titled after an abortive remix album once slated for release in November 1985) collects a dozen original remixes of songs from the era.  The new installment of RE:CALL has a whopping 30 tracks: original single versions, the non-LP side “Julie,” film songs from The Falcon and the Snowman, Absolute Beginners, and Labyrinth, plus duets with Tina Turner (“Tonight” and “Let’s Dance”) and Mick Jagger (what else, “Dancing in the Street”) and more.  The extended edit of B-side “Girls” is on this disc, though not the shorter version or the Japanese re-recording.

The generous book will run to 128 pages in the CD version and 84 in the LP box, with copious illustrations, original press clippings, and historical notes from producers and engineers Nile Rodgers, Hugh Padgham, Mario McNulty, and Justin Shirley-Smith.  The CDs will be packaged in the expected deluxe mini-LP replica sleeves, but in a special touch, they will be pressed in gold rather than standard silver. The vinyl release will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl.

Loving the Alien looks to be a great opportunity to revisit one of David Bowie’s most overlooked – yet most mainstream – periods.  Look for this set on CD and vinyl on October 12th

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The moment he pointed down the camera during his appearance on the BBC in July 1972 was also the precise moment that David Bowie became a major star

48 years ago today, David Bowie played Starman on Top Of The Pops. And for many British music fans, Something changed in those three minutes. It was probably also present in the performance of Starman that he recorded for the ITV show Lift Off With Ayshea three weeks before that historic Top of the Pops appearance. But ITV lost the tape, which seems typical somehow.

Like everybody else on 6th July 1972, I genuinely remember seeing David Bowie perform Starman on Top of the Pops. It’s one of the few historic pieces of pop television. I knew who David Bowie was, had already bought his record and had even seen him wearing a dress on the cover of Melody Maker. That short appearance with the Spiders From Mars, doing a song that only got on the record because somebody at RCA thought it was a hit, felt like an arrival. It wasn’t just the clothes. Lots of acts raided the dressing-up box. The way Bowie pointed that finger, smilingly draped an arm around Mick Ronson, the way he worked out which camera he was on and looked beyond the camera to engage the audience sitting at home.

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When Bowie appeared on Top of the Pops singing Starman. That was the moment Bowie went above ground and nationwide. The hype may have led us to expect something edgy and challenging. The record was as simple and hummable a radio hit as you could possibly desire. For the post-Beatles generation coming into their albums-buying majority, the record wasn’t really the point. The point was the way he looked at them.

The last time he’d been on Top of the Pops was playing piano behind Peter Noone on the latter’s hit version of his own Oh! You Pretty Things. Bowie’s people were furiously working the machine. His first release of 1972, Changes, was not a hit, despite being single of the week on Tony Blackburn’s Radio 1 show.

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It’s More than two years have passed since David Bowie departed us, but the steady flow of back-catalogue releases shows no sign of slowing. With another Record Store Day upon on and the release of three more Bowie collectables. At the time of his death suggested Bowie had left detailed plans for years worth of reissues, a number of which have already surfaced, including the Cracked Actor live album and the 13-LP set A New Career in a New Town.

This month, 45 years to the day since it was first released, comes a special silver vinyl edition of “Aladdin Sane”, as well as a repress of 1981’s “ChangesTwoBowie” compilation.

the Reissue of Aladdin Sane gives us an opportunity for another visit, in other words—along with these six other gems from David Bowie’s ever-growing backlist of releases. All of which should be added to your collection.

David Bowie  – Aladdin Sane

Though Bowie made Aladdin Sane during his first big burst of success, it is usually overshadowed by the mold-breaking The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and, to some extent, the more overtly theatrical Diamond Dogs which has experienced a major critical reevaluation in the years since its release. Bowie himself might take some of the blame for that, having somewhat glibly described Aladdin Sane at the time of its release as “Ziggy goes to America.” But while Ziggy remains an undeniable cornerstone in Bowie’s rise (and in the shaping of 20th-century rock music),

Aladdin Sane is no mere retread. In fact, one might argue that it is a more expansive refinement of its predecessor, setting two of his finest singles of the period—“The Jean Genie” and “Drive-In Saturday” alongside its wonderfully deranged, avant-garde title track, the biting “Cracked Actor” and one of the great album-closing ballads of his career, “Lady Grinning Soul”

 

David Bowie  –  Bowie At The Beeb

Before he was David Bowie 1970s musical chameleon in chief—he was David Bowie, singer of whimsical psychedelic pop. Bowie would more or less disown 1967’s self-titled debut—“I didn’t know if I was Max Miller or Elvis Presley,” he later said with songs such as the dainty “Love You Till Tuesday” offering only vague hints at what was to come.

A more informative insight into early Bowie can be gleaned from this collection of BBC radio sessions, which run from his first appearance (alongside the Tony Visconti Orchestra) in 1968 to the height of Ziggy mania in 1972. The set provides a series of illuminating glimpses at his fast-growing gift for songcraft and stagecraft, with the string-drenched pop of 1968’s “Karma Man” gradually giving way to expansive prog-folk (“Cygnet Committee,” “The Width of a Circle”), early takes on Ziggy material (“Queen Bitch,” “Hang on to Yourself”), Velvet Underground covers (“I’m Waiting for the Man,” “White Light/White Heat”), and more.

The initial CD edition from 2000 also included a bonus third disc that featured a live set recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre that same year, as well as a glaring error, with the same May 1972 recording of “Ziggy Stardust” appearing twice on disc 2 (since corrected for subsequent two-disc releases).

David Bowie  –  Lodger

The final entry in Bowie’s unparalleled run of ‘70s albums is also the least-loved of the lot, in no small part because of its unhelpful labeling as the third part in his so-called “Berlin Trilogy.” Though it was made with most of the same crew responsible for the one-two punch of “Low” and Heroes” (producer Tony Visconti, creative foil Brian Eno, and a band framed around Carlos Alomar, Dennis Davis, and George Murray), it is less a continuation of those albums’ themes than a foreshadowing of Bowie’s beloved 1980 LP Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).

Recorded and mixed in the not-very-German locations of Montreux, Switzerland, and New York City, New York, “Lodger” also ditched the structure of its supposed siblings (songs on side A, instrumentals on side B), instead spreading its avant-garde moments throughout. Opening with a deceptively conventional piano ballad, “Fantastic Voyage” it then explodes into life on the extraordinary “African Night Flight,” an urgent freeform piece that prefigures Eno’s “world music” experiments with David Byrne on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Further travels follow on “Red Sails” and the Turkish reggae (yes, Turkish reggae) of “Yassassin,” while “D.J.” and “Look Back in Anger” revel in the general rubbishness of modern life.

The album is notable, too, for its clever way with recycling: “Move On” is “All the Young Dudes” backward. “Fantastic Voyage” and “Boys Keep Swinging” share a chord progression but little else. And the closing “Red Money” is a reworking of “Sister Moonlight” a song Bowie wrote for Iggy Pop several years earlier.

Only a modest success by Bowie’s standards on its release in 1979, it has long since been due some form of critical rehabilitation. The 2017 boxed set A New Career in a New Town went some way toward doing so, foregrounding a brand new mix of the album by Tony Visconti, but it remains underrated.

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David Bowie – Absolute Beginners

Bowie began the ‘80s with one of his best albums Scary Monsters and the biggest hit of his career (Let’s Dance), but after that he lost his way, seemingly wrong-footed by the mainstream pop stardom he had sought and then so spectacularly achieved. Amid the two weakest albums of his career (1984’s half-baked Tonight and 1987’s unwisely titled Never Let Me Down, however, there were occasionally still signs that the old magic hadn’t left him yet. Tonight’s “Loving the Alien” is a stunning song in need of a better home, while “This Is Not America,” recorded for the soundtrack to the spy film Falcon and the Snowman, proved considerably more successful than a jazz-fusion collaboration with the Pat Metheny Group had any right to be.

Even better than either of those, though, is “Absolute Beginners,” a windswept ballad written for the film of the same name (in which Bowie also stars). Recorded in a single day with a pickup band that included keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman and Prefab Sprout drummer Neil Conti, it’s a grandstanding epic in the mold of “Rock ’N’ Roll Suicide” or “Wild Is the Wind” Bowie’s widescreen vocal offset perfectly by the warm horn section and Wakeman’s jazzy flourishes.

Not included on any of Bowie’s studio albums, “Absolute Beginners” is well worth seeking out, either on one of his many best-of albums or on its own standalone EP, which also features an extravagant eight-minute version (complete with bolero intro) and a surprising rendition, in Italian, of Domenico Modugno’s Eurovision-winning “Volare.”

David Bowie  –  1,Outside

After hitting a creative low in the mid-to-late ‘80s, then taking a questionable detour into hard rock with Tin Machine, Bowie took some time to re-find his footing in the ‘90s, but by the time of 1. Outside—a dystopian concept album made in collaboration with his old mate Brian Eno, among others—he was well and truly back on form. “The Hearts Filthy Lesson” was his best single for a decade. “Hallo Spaceboy” is a suitably idiosyncratic update of the Major Tom myth. Tracks like “The Motel” (a grandly atmospheric piece evocative of latter-day Scott Walker and driven by the returning Mike Garson’s baroque styled piano) and the album-closing “Strangers When We Meet” are as good as any other art-rock of the day.

1. Outside might not be perfect—the inter-song segues have not aged well, and a third of the run time could comfortably be pruned from its over-generous 75-minutes—but it’s one of Bowie’s most ambitious works, and one that sits comfortably among his post-’70s highlights. Perhaps his premillennial tension was a little too far ahead of the curve—after a somewhat lukewarm response to this album, Bowie’s plans for a series of sequels soon faded, and he made the jungle-tinged Earthling instead.

David Bowie  –  Heathen

For a long time, before Blackstar wowed and saddened in equal measure, Heathen felt like it might be the last great David Bowie album. Released in the aftermath of 9/11, and in some ways capturing the post-terror mood despite having largely been completed before the attacks on New York (Bowie’s then adopted home) and Washington D.C., it’s a work of maturity, morality, and mortality.

Death had long figured in Bowie’s work, but never before with the calm acceptance of Heathen’s opening track, “Sunday,” a mournful reflection on a world where “nothing remains” and the light is scarce. There’s a similarly meditative mood to “I Would Be Your Slave” and “5:15 The Angels Have Gone,” on which he declares, “I’m out here forever.” Elsewhere, among the lighter fare, “Slow Burn” is a kind of mini-“Heroes” with Pete Townshend on guitar, while “Slip Away” reunites Bowie with another old friend, the Stylophone pocket synthesizer. Slotting in neatly alongside Bowie’s own compositions are well-judged covers of Neil Young’s “I’ve Been Waiting for You” and the Pixies’ “Cactus,” in which the original’s mid-song shout-out is playfully updated to “D-A-V-I-D.”

If the response from some was once again muted, its creator was undeterred. “I’m pretty much a realist,” he said at the time. “The young have to kill the old. … That’s how life works.”

David Bowie  –  iSelect

Over the years, Bowie’s best bits have been compiled in so many different shapes and forms that they almost require a catalogue of their own. The best of the best-ofs, though, is this 12-track collection of Bowie’s own personal favorites from his extensive backlist. It was first released, incongruously, as a cover-mounted freebie alongside the June 29th, 2008, edition of the right-wing The Mail on Sunday newspaper, before being given a separate, rhetoric-free release later in the year.

Of the 12 songs Bowie chose to include, only “Life on Mars?” is an obvious pick. Among the rest are two tracks from Lodger, the Low outtake “Some Are,” and a newly remixed version of Never Let Me Down’s “Time Will Crawl.” In the illuminating song-by-song liner notes that accompany the album, Bowie described the latter as being among “a host of songs that I’ve recorded over the years that for one reason or another (clenched teeth) I’ve often wanted to re-record some time in the future.” If you’re looking for all the hits, in order, there are plenty of options to choose from, of which the most recent, 2016’s Legacy, is probably your best bet. As a guided tour by the man himself, however, iSelect cannot be beaten.

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As we get ready for another host of rarities and re-releases set to be on their way for Record Store Day 2018, which comes on April 21st, we’ve just got news of three releases they’re all David Bowie and they’re all limited edition.

The first is a 3 x 12″ set Welcome to the Blackout (Live in London 1978) and it holds a whole host of secrets. The previously unreleased set offers fans a chance to listen back on history as we dive in to Bowie’s Isolla II tour and re-visit his dates at London’s Earls Court from’1978.

Welcome to the Blackout, a triple live album taken from Bowie’s Isolar II World Tour in 1978, to promote Low and “Heroes”. The singer ended the second, European leg of the tour with a trio of sold-out gigs at Earls Court in London from June into July, and while RCA’s mobile truck was on hand to record the dates, it was ultimately the live compilation Stage that became the first representation of the tour for mass audiences. Bowie and David Richards did, however, mix the tapes into a potential project in Montreux, Switzerland in the winter of 1979; that arrangement from the June 30th and July 1st shows is Welcome to the Blackout.

The performance features Bowie’s expanded band, with core members Carlos Alomar (rhythm guitar, George Murray (bass) and Dennis Davis (drums) joined by heavy-hitters including Adrian Belew on guitar, Hawkwind’s Simon House on electric violin, Utopia’s Roger Powell on keyboards and Sean Mayes on piano and string ensemble. (This band would follow Bowie to Montreux for the recording of Lodger in 1979.) None of this material has ever appeared on a Bowie-sanctioned release, although “Sound and Vision” (making its live debut) ended up on the unofficial 1995 collection RarestOneBowie.

The next is a 12″ single which features the full first recording of ‘Let’s Dance’ as well as a live version of the song. The final release is Bowie Now a previously only promotional album, only for the US, which is getting it’s first commercial release. It will feature tracks from both Low and Heroes . 

The Bowie camp celebrated David’s birthday in 2018 with the digital unveiling of his original demo to the smash hit “Let’s Dance.” A longer version of that demo, as newly mixed by original producer Nile Rodgers, will make its physical debut for RSD on a new 12″ single. It’ll be paired with a rare live version of the same song, mixed by Bob Clearmountain and featured on the Serious Moonlight concert film.

finally, for rarity seekers and fans of Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, the 1978 promo album Bowie Now gets its first commercial reissue. This disc features album tracks from Low and “Heroes,” all sourced from Tony Visconti’s remasters of the albums as featured in last year’s box set A New Career In a New Town. The package is expanded to feature a new inner sleeve with a rarely seen image of the singer in Berlin in 1977.

The Releases

Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) – 3 x LP unreleased live set
~ Let’s Dance (Full-length) – 12” single featuring full length version of the demo and live version
~ Bowie Now – White vinyl LP issue of US promo only compilation with new interior artwork –