Worth-your-time posthumous release alert: A new 12-disc David Bowie box set called Who Can I Be Now? [1974 – 1976]. Gems on gems on gems, of course, but the most exciting bit might be that a previously unreleased album The Gouster, is here in full. It's a direct spiritual predecessor to Young Americans. (You'll recognize much of the tracklist.)
"Versions of all the songs on The Gouster eventually came out," Stereogum writes, "which is a bit frustrating for people who were hoping to hear never-released songs from that era, like 'I Am a Lazer' and 'Shilling the Rubes.' Still, this is the first time the world has gotten to hear The Gouster all together."
Career-long Bowie producer Tony Visconti had his Gouster liner notes excerpted on Bowie's Facebook back in July. Here's his insight:
“Gouster was a word unfamiliar to me but David knew it as a type of dress code worn by African American teens in the ‘60’s, in Chicago. But in the context of the album its meaning was attitude, an attitude of pride and hipness. Of all the songs we cut we were enamored of the ones we chose for the album that portrayed this attitude.
David had a long infatuation with soul as did I. We were fans of the TV show Soul Train. We weren’t ‘young, gifted and black’ but we sure as hell wanted to make a killer soul album, which was quite insane, but pioneers like the Righteous Brothers were there before us.
So The Gouster began with the outrageous brand new, funkafied version of David’s classic ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’, a single he wrote and recorded in 1972, only this time our version sounded like it was played live in a loft party in Harlem and he added (Again) to the title. It wasn’t the two and a half minute length of the original either.
We maxed out at virtually seven minutes! With the time limitations of vinyl (big volume drop with more than 18 minutes a side) we could only fit two other long songs on side one, ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ and ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ both about six and a half minute songs. We had hit the twenty-minute mark. Technically that worked because ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ had lots of quiet sections where the record groove could be safely made narrower and that would preserve the apparent loudness of side one.
Side two also hit the twenty-minute mark with ‘Can You Hear Me’ saving the day with its quiet passages. Forty minutes of glorious funk, that’s what it was and that’s how I thought it would be.”
The complete Who Can I Be Now? [1974 – 1976] box set features:
–a 128-page hardcover book (CD version) or a 84-page hardcover book (LP version)
–Diamond Dogs (remastered) (1 CD)
–David Live (original mix) (remastered) (2 CD) *
–David Live (2005 mix) (remastered) (2 CD)
–The Gouster (previously unreleased as an album) (1 CD) *
–Young Americans (remastered) (1 CD)
–Station To Station (remastered) (1 CD)
–Station To Station (Harry Maslin 2010 mix) (1 CD) *
–Live Nassau Coliseum ’76 (2 CD)
–Re:Call 2 (Single versions and non album B-sides) (remastered) (1 CD) *