Second volume of Bowie's complete works showcases lost album's '40 minutes of glorious funk'
An unreleased David Bowie album will feature in the second box-set compiling the late singer’s complete music.
‘The Gouster’ eventually morphed into Bowie’s 1975 album ‘Young Americans’, with its title referring to a dress code worn by Chicago teenagers in the 1960s.
It’s the first officially released information about ‘Who Can I Be Now?’, the second Bowie box-set following the release in 2015 of ‘Five Years’. The first 12-disc box-set covered 1969 and comprised Bowie’s six albums from ‘David Bowie’ to ‘Pin Ups’ as well as two live albums and a double album of unreleased songs, ‘Re:Call 1’.
‘Who Can I Be Now?’ covers 1974-76 and is expected to be similarly extensive. A statement on Bowie’s Facebook page said full details will be announced next week, but the box is expected to cover the albums ‘Diamond Dogs’, ‘David Live’, ‘Young Americans’ and ‘Station To Station’.
A second volume of ‘Re:Call 2’ featuring unreleased music is also expected. The full album announcement is also likely to feature more information on ‘The Gouster’.
The tracklisting for ‘The Gouster’ was to have been: ‘John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)’; ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’; ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’; ‘Who Can I Be Now?’; ‘Can You Hear Me’; ‘Young Americans’; ‘Right’.
A book in the new box-set is written by Bowie’s producer Tony Visconti. Talking about ‘The Gouster’, Visconti writes in the book: “’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.”
Unreleased Bowie music is also showcased in BBC4 documentary The People’s History Of Pop Music tonight (July 22) at 9pm.