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David Bowie (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

David Bowie’s debut is the last of his albums to receive a deluxe reissue, perhaps because it would seem to be the last anybody would want expanded to a double-disc set. Roundly dismissed as theatrical twaddle in the vein of Anthony Newley, the 1967 album has its share of period charm, caught somewhere between the psychedelic swing and stuffy West End musicals — not quite the formula for major pop hits in 1967, nor is it necessarily an indication of what Bowie would later do, but it’s a fascinating, highly enjoyable debut, particularly in this generous 53-track, double-disc deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original stereo and mono mixes of David Bowie — the latter not easily available in decades, offering mixes that are sometimes quite different — while the second collects all the alternates and ephemera of the era: non-LP singles and single versions, sometimes drastically different, of album tracks, unreleased stereo mixes and alternate takes along with Bowie’s first-ever BBC session, also dating from 1967. If the album proper does sometimes seem a little constrained, too successfully appealing to the middlebrow, the music on the second disc is wildly lively and often much hipper: it has Bowie’s cheerfully silly “The Laughing Gnome,” which spins Syd Barrett whimsy further toward children, and it has his first great songs, the hazy swirling “In the Heat of the Morning” and fizzy “London Bye Ta-Ta,” it has the snappier single version of “Love You Till Tuesday,” along with that excellent first BBC session, which is muscular in a way the studio sessions aren’t. Then again, those highly produced original sessions — featuring such British studio stalwarts as Big Jim Sullivan and sometimes engineered by Gus Dudgeon or produced by Tony Visconti — are quite appealing, exemplary examples of the studio sound of London in the ‘60s. And in a way, having so much of these formative recordings in one place winds up enhancing the stature of David Bowie’s debut rather than diminishing it: sure, he’s gangly and awkward, too indebted to his peers, creating music too stuffy for the kids and too odd for adults, but it’s possible to hear the first real flowering of his talent here.

Customer Reviews

The album he would rather disown

First of all, let's be realistic, this is not the 1st album you would necessarily put on if you are in the Bowie mood. However, if you have a wider area of interest in music, some of the material on these two discs amount to more than a collection of curios. Where the proper album falters is when the vocals rely too much on Bowie's love of Anthony Newley. But, Newley is one of the prime influences that leads to Bowies' own distinct voice (along with a healthy dose of Scott Walker). Any listener familiar with Scott Walker's 60's output may find charm with these tracks, but the arrangements lack the same sophistication of those recordings. Also, if you are a fan of McCartney and Lennons more music-hall oriented songs, you will find these songs of note. The proper album is a solid, quick listen, my preference is for the Stereo versions this time out as it sounds like these songs were recorded that way and mixed for Mono afterwards. The second disc has later cuts with the earliest appearance of collaborations with Tony Visconti, and these tend to be the strongest tracks on the disc overall. You won't find the immediacy of Bowie's hit songs, but you will find a charm and strangeness that had yet to come to full bloom. Bowie rightfully returned to some of this material for re-recording (sadly, most of those remain unreleased), and maybe one day he will finish the undertaking of that project.




Genre: Rock

The cliché about David Bowie says he's a musical chameleon, adapting himself according to fashion and trends. While such a criticism is too glib, there's no denying that Bowie demonstrated remarkable skill for perceiving musical trends at his peak in the '70s. After spending several years in the late '60s as a mod and as an all-around music-hall entertainer, Bowie reinvented himself as a hippie singer/songwriter. Prior to his breakthrough in 1972, he recorded a proto-metal record and a pop/rock album,...
Full Bio
David Bowie (Deluxe Edition), David Bowie
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