Initially conceived as part of a 1997 BBC Radio 1 broadcast, coinciding with David Bowie’s 50th birthday, ChangesNowBowie comprises a series of mostly acoustic renditions of material primarily from the icon’s early ‘70s breakout phase, interpreted through a dialed-down, retrospective lens. The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory and the subsequent Ziggy Stardust-era sees heavy coverage alongside pared-down alternative takes on overlooked tracks, examples from the then-relatively recent Tin Machine side project also represented. Recorded and mixed at Philip Glass’ now defunct Looking Glass Studios ahead of the Madison Square Garden celebration concert, this nine-track affair provides a sample of the seminal artist returning and rebooting at a pivotal personal epoch as the millennium loomed.

In many respects, finding Bowie in the latter days of Britpop reflecting on what was, at that point, a 35-year strong career is testament to the unparalleled cultural reach he amassed during his lifetime; collaborations with the Pet Shop Boys and Nine Inch Nails as well as his role as Phillip Jeffries in Fire Walk With Me furthering his multi-disciplined body of work into the ‘90s. The equally age-defying nature of underrated songs such as “The Supermen” and “Quicksand” is brought to the fore through the updated iterations included here, a simple elegance coursing throughout, justifiably revisited in the partially tweaked approach adopted. The Lodger’s “Repetition” is elsewhere given a fresh spin, with Bowie’s longstanding session bassist Gail Ann Dorsey contributing backing vocals, augmenting rather than radically overhauling the source version. “Aladdin Sane”, conversely, veers starkly from the 1973 original, its anarchic freeform foundations channeled through an unadorned, more mellow route.

Lacking the accompanying interview with Mary Anne Hobbs, it is difficult to escape the glaring absence of the original broadcast’s unique atmosphere and sense of occasion. Featuring a personal tribute from ‘60s pin-up Scott Walker, Bowie’s emotional reaction proved a certifiable highlight; a heartfelt moment that captured the reverence with which he held the Ohio-born singer-songwriter’s artistry. With a considerable void left following Bowie’s passing, there has been inevitable fervent interest in unreleased and obscure finds, the potential unearthing of lost artifacts inciting an almost mythic zeal among aficionados that is occasionally validated with worthy results.

While not a lost rarity by any stretch, as a remaster of what many devotees have already committed to tape, this release does document a milestone in Bowie’s earthly existence, given the treatment it richly deserves. In this sense, despite removing its broader context, this posthumous release does stand as a compulsory purchase for any Bowie fan worth their salt. Originally earmarked as a Record Store Day release, ChangesNowBowie serves as a timely reminder of the late great artist’s lust for life and distinct longevity, remaking and remodelling throughout the decades, while nudging trends into being. If anything, this half-hour time capsule serves as an evocative reminder of the Thin White Duke’s refusal to fade into irrelevance – his star remaining undimmed, often imitated but never to be replaced.

  • Fontaines D.C.: A Hero’s Death

    Moodier than its lauded predecessor, the Dublin punks’ sophomore album is a confident step…
  • Rediscover: Voivod: Katorz

    Katorz doesn't make for easy listening, but within the run of Voivod's catalog, it may pro…
  • Wye Oak: No Horizon

    Stepping outside their comfort zone to incorporate disparate worlds. …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Porcelain Raft: Come Rain

A rumbling, interminably unsure expanse, undecided and seemingly fixed in a point of doubt…