Compilation Albums

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Five Years (1969-1973)
Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976)

FIVE YEARS (1969-1973)

  • Parlophone DBX1 - September 2015 (CD)

  • Parlophone DBXL1 - September 2015 (LP)

This lavish box set, released on September 25th 2015 in CD, vinyl and download formats, gathers together the six studio albums from Space Oddity to Pin Ups, along with the two live Ziggy albums and two discs' worth of bonus tracks deriving from the same period, entitled Re:Call 1. For the collector the star attraction is the inclusion of the original 3'13" single version of "Holy Holy", unavailable in any form other than crackly bootlegs since 1971. Although most certainly a "needle-drop", the long-awaited "Holy Holy" sounds in fine fettle; unfortunately, the same can't be said of everything in this collection, which is a very mixed bag. Of particular concern is the new remaster of the Space Oddity album, which is blighted by tape damage and assorted glitches (among other things, the first bass note of "Cygnet Committee" is missing, and "God's land" becomes "God land" in "Memory Of A Free Festival" - stick to the excellent 2009 reissue). The remaining albums are in better shape, with The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory and Pin Ups the best of the bunch, improving on the previous EMI and Ryko editions. There are two versions of Ziggy Stardust: one from the master of the 2012 reissue, the other Ken Scott's 2003 mix. Aladdin Sane is the same master as the 40th anniversary edition, while Santa Monica '72 and Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture are the 2008 and 2003 masters respectively.

     Besides "Holy Holy", Re:Call 1 features the CD debuts of several other mixes and edits, not all of them quite what they seem. "Space Oddity (UK Mono Single Edit)" (4'42") and "Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud (UK Mono Single Version)" (4'52") appear to be sourced from inferior tapes, as do "All The Madmen (US Promo Single Edit)" (3'15") and "Janine (US Promo Mono Version)" (3'23"); "Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola (Stereo Single Version)" (5'06") is simply the 2009 stereo master, faded early to match the length of the original mono single (there was no stereo version back in the day); "Changes (UK Mono Single)" (3'39") and "Andy Warhol (Mono Single Edit)" (3'07") are new creations folded to mono from the stereo remasters (the UK mono "Andy Warhol" B-side was the full-length album track, while the edited US version was in stereo, so it's wrong either way); "Drive-In Starurday (German Single Edit)" (4'03") is merely the master from the 40th anniversary Aladdin Sane reissue, faded early; but the good news is that "Moonage Daydream (Arnold Corns Version)" (3'53") reinstates the spoken intro missing from the 2002 reissue, while "Round And Round (Original B-Side Mix)" (3'27") are both authentic, previously unavailable on digital formats, and entirely lovely.

     Five Years (1969-1973) was accompanied by a deluxe booklet containing a foreword by Ray Davies, a wealth of rare photographs, contemporary press coverage and other memorabilia, and detailed liner notes by Tony Visconti and Ken Scott. The six studio albums were issued individually on CD alongside the release, with vinyl versions following in February 2016; vinyl formats of the live albums followed in June 2016. The Re:Call 1 selections and the Ken Scott Ziggy remix remain exclusive to the set.

WHO CAN I BE NOW? (1974-1976)

  • Parlophone - September 2016

Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976), the follow up to Five Years (1969-1973) covers the next phase of Bowie's career over 12 CDs, 13LPs and a digital download. In addition to three studio albums (Diamond Dogs, Young Americans and Station To Station, the latter in both its original and 2010 mixes), the set includes David Live (in original and 2005 mixes), Live Nassau Coliseum '76, and a mock-up of one of several early track-listings for the album that became Young Americans, here given the title The Gouster. This element made news headlines when the set was announced in July 2016, with some overexcited reporters declaring The Gouster an authentic and unreleased "lost" album, when in fact it consists of seven tracks already available, albeit that three of them ("Somebody Up There Likes Me", "Can You Hear Me" and "Right") are early mixes hitherto unavailable on any official release. The remaining four are "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)", "It's Gonna Be Me", "Who Can I Be Now?" and "Young Americans". The bonus disc Re:Call 2 rounds up various single mixes, edits and B-sides: of note is the digital debut of the original single mix of "Rebel Rebel", the obscure Australian single edit of "Diamond Dogs", and the inessential promo edit of the David Live version of "Rock 'n Roll With Me".

 

A staggering number of Bowie compilations has appeaed over the years: what follows is a comprehensive guide to UK releases. Promo albums are generally ignored. Full track-listings are given only for key compilations of otherwise unavailable material, while individual tracks of importance are mentioned in each entry.