There was one more Bowie CD for release in 1991, and I didn’t wait to find a used copy when it was released. In spite of my famous distance from “Lodger,” I was inspired to quickly bring it back into the Record Cell once it got a release on a Rykodisc CD in July. The late 70s discs were all purchased during the initial period of release, but for much of the pre-1975 period, I lagged behind the release schedule. It was never a priority of mine at the time to have every David Bowie album, but over time, this eventually changed, and we’ll get to the reason why in a bit.
“Lodger” like “Young Americans” was a Bowie album that it took me a very long time to warm up to, but the point was that as with that 1975 album, I was game to at the very least discover and quantify why it didn’t work so well for me. In the case of “Lodger” I would cross a line in the sand only a few years ago where I could wholeheartedly love it. The bonus materials on this CD were two previously unreleased tracks. “I Pray Olé” had a vague “Lodger” feel, but didn’t offer anything especially vital to the program. Unlike the second bonus track. It was the 1988 re-recording of a seven minute version of “Look Back In Anger” as recorded with Reeves Gabrels on lead guitar; their first work together. It was a radical re-arrangement and in some ways simplification of the song as used for a performance of the dance troupe La La La Human Steps. I liked the direct, bracing quality and the length of it; the original version always came and went too quickly for my taste.
In January of 1992, the one I had been waiting for possibly the most hit the bins and I did not hesitate. The album that most consistently vies with “Heroes” as my favorite of his was one I was super eager to delve into again on CD. I guess it’s the Frippfan in me that makes me always reach for those two first. The four bonus tracks here were what I was hoping for. “Crystal Japan” I had heard when chasinvictoria had gotten a copy of the song somewhere [a promo of “Ashes To Ashes?”] and sent me a tape sometime a decade or so earlier. I had found the German “Alabama Song/Space Oddity ” 7″ a decade earlier, but it was right and proper to have these two tracks finally on CD. The last bonus track was something new; a radically different version of “Panic In Detroit,” that was lost on my ears because in 1992, I had yet to hear the original version for the first time!
That summer brought the third Tin Machine album that nobody asked for. “Oy Vey, Baby” was a live album also on Victory Music, the same label that Bowie had shopped “Tin Machine II” to. Given the underwhelming nature of that release, I did not pay any attention to this album. Indeed. It was 1992 and I had not yet bought a single Bowie live album of any stripe, so why start now? Its title – a snide dig at U2’s “Achtung Baby” album title, being its most notable trait.
That was it for the Rykodisc reissue program. There was one more CD; but I did not buy it for years afterward. I had basically bought the albums I had previously owned on LP but had traded off thinking it would be easy to pick up an RCA CD of those titles. Of course, reality followed a different path. I was still pretty hazy on much of 1969-1974. I only had the “Ziggy Stardust” album and material on the “Sound + Vision” boxed set. I did pick up a few titles when I saw them in the used bins.
Getting “Hunky Dory” was a small revelation. It was still a “singer/songwriter” album, but it revealed that Bowie was moving elsewhere; even if he was not there yet. It was the last vestige of the mystical hippie phase of his career, with a mixture of specious Nietzsche/Crowley theosophy rubbing shoulders with cabaret music and the much less suspect Velvet Underground influence. Looking backward with all of the albums under my belt, this was definitely his first stone cold classic. Only the appearance of a Paul Williams song [“Fill Your Heart”] is jarring in its context. The bonus tracks here were the excellent “Bombers” and alternate versions of a trio of songs from this album and “The Man Who Sold The World.”
Next: …About that bleeding edge