It is a great time to be a Bowie fan, and really, who didn't think that train had run its course? But as 2013's wonderful The Next Day album showed, he always has the ability to surprise with his next move. And there is one, with a new best-of, Nothing Has Changed coming in November, which includes a brand-new track. And there's also more worthwhile stuff just out, which should be attractive to both collectors and more casual fans.
Sound + Vision is a box set that first came out way back in 1989, and was quite a hit, selling a quarter-million copies, at a time when those things were still always expensive. It had a fan's bonanza of tracks, including the original demo version of Space Oddity, and a previously-unknown cover of Bruce Springsteen's It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City. Bowie by this time own the rights to his back catalogue, and would contract them out for a few years, then go elsewhere. In 2003, after being unavailable for a few years, Sound + Vision returned with a new deal at EMI Music, and a newly-expanded track list. It was now four discs long, and included tracks post 1980, again with several rarities. Then the same thing happened, Bowie pulled the set from the stores as he worked on another reissue plan.
It is here again, this time with no changes from the 2003 edition, except for a major one in size. Instead of the fancy box, it now comes slimmed down into a basic bulky CD case, housing the four discs and a decent booklet. This is not a bad thing, as it is now available for $40, which is about half of what it cost way back in 1989, and now has almost twice the music. The first two-and-a-half discs hold up remarkably well, being the glory years and all, and I especially like how the live tracks are used. Instead of giving us the usual studio versions of songs such as Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City and Station To Station, which most fans would own elsewhere, there are live sections built in every few tracks, which also include concert favourites such as White Light/White Heat and Watch That Man. Now, post-1980 is always a rock road for any fan. Many find the overt commercial numbers Modern Love and Loving The Alien lesser fare. But the controversial Tin Machine has many more detractors, and with six tracks from two albums included here, it seems a desperate attempt to say the music was ahead of its time and we should like it now. We shouldn't. Tracks from Earthling and Black Tie, White Noise also fail to bring a better rep for those albums. The box ends there, too bad as there are grand songs to be found on under-appreciated albums such as Heathen (2002) and Reality (2003). And while the new best-of will include this era, and last year's comeback, I'd rather have it all housed in one place, maybe as a five-disc box. But of course, it's price that really attracts here, and keeping it unchanged but under forty bucks is a great deal
Also out now is the latest in the wonderful picture disc campaign of original singles, each coming out on the 40th anniversary of its first release. We are now up to 1974's David Live album, with the single Knock On Wood, a cover of the Eddie Floyd 60's soul hit. Anyone who owns David Live will have this, and its B-side, Rock 'n' Roll With Me, but the point is more the beautiful photos on the disc, actual collector's pieces in my opinion, worthy of a bookshelf. I am a bit miffed that there isn't a previously-unreleased B-side, or something a little rare, as earlier singles in the series had included, so hopefully that will change back in the months ahead. Still, an excellent addition to my growing Bowie section.