I share rare and out-of-print songs. So it’s what I’m going to do tonight. I don’t know what else to do. I’m not going to eulogize David Bowie. Others, those who knew him, will do a better job at at that. Writing about his music, and sharing the tunes that people can’t easily get, is my own way of dealing with his death.
David Bowie’s discography was massive, and throughout the years many of his recordings fell through the cracks. In fact, my very first post on Lost Turntable was one such song, his theme to the largely forgotten animated nuclear war drama When The Wind Blows. Thankfully, that song is in print now, as are the remixes for it. You can buy them all on Amazon and I suggest you do. It’s a tremendous track.
In fact, in recent years many of Bowie’s rarer tracks have been re-issued in one way or another. His “greatest hits” compilation from last year featured rare and hard-to-find mixes of even his most popular tunes, and even Sound + Vision was recently re-released, meaning you can find rarities such as the awesome U.S. single mix of “Rebel Rebel,” the radio edit of “Nite Flights” and the saxophone version of “John, I’m Only Dancing.” Bowie completists would do well to check them out. I also recommend picking up the David Bowie box set from 2007, which collects his albums from Outside to Reality, most of which were excellent (I still dig Earthling a lot).
So much work has been done to restore Bowie’s discography that there isn’t much for me to share here tonight. And make no mistake, that’s a good thing. David Bowie was a genius, and you should buy his music.
These are the only tracks I have that are out of print, not crummy sounding bootlegs, and worth sharing. I don’t feel that sharing a track like “Too Dizzy” a song that was so bad it was deleted from later pressings of Never Let Me Down (Bowie’s worst outing by many accounts, including his) would be a proper tribute to the man. I want to celebrate his legacy by showcasing the songs you might not know about, not dredge up stuff best left forgotten.
That being said, let’s start with a Tin Machine song.
Baby Universal (7″ Remix)
Baby Universal (Extended Version)
I briefly mentioned Never Let Me Down a bit ago. Make no mistake, that is an incredibly bad record. Critics thought so, his fans though so, and in the years after its release Bowie thought so as well. Bowie took such a drubbing from the album’s release that he retreated from releasing albums as Bowie altogether, and instead formed a band called Tin Machine. They released two records, and although neither were particularly well-received by the public, perception on the Tin Machine material has improved over the years. I wholeheartedly recommend the band’s self-titled debut, and I even have fondness for their follow-up, Tin Machine II. It’s a bit uneven, but it does have the best song that Tin Machine released, the fast-paced punk/art-rock/dance hybrid Baby Universal, which I’m presenting here in all its forms. Be sure to listen to the lyrics, which include the classic Bowie line “Hello humans can you feel me thinking.”
Jump The Say (Rock Mix)
Tin Machine wasn’t that much of a critical or popular success, but it sure as hell served to revitalize Bowie creatively. After the group disbanded he went back to being a solo artist and went on a hell of a creative tear through the 90s, starting with Black Tie White Noise. A fantastic if somewhat dated record, much of the album dealt with Bowie’s then-recent marriage to Iman, but not this track. It was inspired largely by Bowie’s half-brother Terry, who lost his battle with mental illness and took his own life some years before.
Lyrically, its one of my favorite tracks on the record, but I always felt the funky production kind of beguiled the song’s dark message and somewhat angry tone, which is why I much prefer this rock remix. It’s still an early-90s dance-rock tune, so it’s pumped-up and overproduced, but the funky wah-wah guitars and more manic elements are removed and replaced with some hard guitar riffs. It gives it just enough edge for the lyrics to resonate a little more, just a bit more bite.
This remix first appeared on a few different singles. I got it from the two-disc edition of Black Tie White Noise. While that version of the album is out of print (for now) the single-disc release is easily available. It is very much an album of its time, for good and bad, but it has an upbeat vibe that’s hard to dislike. If you like this tune, check it out.
Cat People [Putting Out Fire] (Australian Promo Extended Version)
If I had to make a list of my top ten favorite David Bowie songs, I’d go insane – but I think this song would probably make the cut. A collaboration between Bowie and Giorgio Moroder (holy shit!) for an exceptionally bad movie, many consider it to be his creative swan song for the 80s. I wouldn’t go that far, I actually like a lot of Bowie’s 80s output, but this track is a motherfucking masterpiece, largely due to Bowie’s freakishly powerful vocals. He’s downright operatic here, with a bellow that rivals what he delivered on “Heroes.”
If this track sounds familiar to you, that’s probably because it was featured prominently in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. The version featured in the movie is the one from the soundtrack to Cat People. You can find that on the Sound + Vision box set. It is distinctively different than the version on Let’s Dance, which is also good but far too over-produced (this was a common problem with music from the era, not just Bowie). The version I’m sharing tonight was only included on the original Australian 12″ single, and most likely by mistake. It’s over nine minutes long and features a fucking rad as hell sax solo.
Disclaimer: This is not my rip, I found it on another (defunct) MP3 blog.
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (With Nine Inch Nails)
Okay, one bootleg.
This might be my favorite Bowie song. And this version with Nine Inch Nails (from the Outside tour) is just a (scary) monster. A powerful and intense burst of glorious thunder. This is how I choose to remember David Bowie.
As a motherfucking rock star.