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David Bowie / Top 10 Lost Tracks

David Bowie / Sound+Vision Box Set / Rykodisc 1989

First published on SDE four years ago, here’s another look at ten of the best David Bowie gems that remain out of print…

A group of men walked past stacks of dusty master tapes gathering in hallways, and found the concrete cell they were looking for. They had wandered around a jail-like New Jersey storage facility (without climate control) anticipating this moment. The Holy Grail. For inside this bunker was David Bowie’s tape library (masters, multi-tracks etc) from the 1970s. If that wasn’t enough, it also contained original artwork, including the hand painted photo used on the cover of Ziggy Stardust.

It was early 1989, and small US label Rykodisc had stunned industry competition by securing the rights to reissue the RCA-era David Bowie catalog. Everything from 1969’s Space Oddity to 1980’s Scary Monsters would be reissued, with Rykodisc responsible for producing all the new packaging and artwork and remastering the entire catalog. The label’s presence wasn’t strong outside North America so EMI handled the rest of the world –Rykodisc would send them the art and the masters and EMI would simply add their logos. The whole reissue campaign would go on to win widespread acclaim for the quality of the packaging and the care and thought that went into the track listings and remastering.

As a teaser for this campaign, Rykodisc issued a lavish 50-track Box Set called Sound+Vision which contained around three or four tracks from each Bowie album from the reissue campaign. As well as three CDs, it also featured an additional CDV (CD Video – now obsolete) containing a further three audio tracks along with the video to Ashes to Ashes.

What is significant is that amongst the well known tracks such as Young Americans and Changes, Sound+Vision also included eight previously unreleased tracks and some rare single mixes. This reflected what was to come, as Rykodisc reissued Bowie’s catalog in stages, from 1990 to 1992, with most (but not all) albums containing previously unreleased outtakes and demos. None of the rarities from the Sound+Vision box were repeated on the individual CD releases, meaning that you had to own the box and the individual album reissues to ensure you had everything.

In the late 1990’s Bowie’s entire catalog was reissued again, this time without any of the additional bonus tracks found on the earlier Rykodisc/EMI reissues, which were effectively out of print. In the last decade various anniversary editions and deluxe editions have included some of these ‘lost’ bonus tracks, but not all of them. Indeed, there are many tracks released by Rykodisc during the catalogue reissue campaign which are still out of print today. The only way to get most of them today, is to track down the original CD releases from the period via ebay or your local used record shop (if you can find one!).

Here we take a look at the top ten Rykodisc-era ‘lost’ tracks by David Bowie (dates are when the track was recorded).

1. Candidate [Diamond Dogs demo, 1973]

Recorded in 1973, this track is notionally a demo of the album version of Candidate but bears no similarity at all to it’s namesake and doesn’t sound much like a demo. The lyrics, tune and arrangement are all totally different. However this track is a corker and it’s amazing to consider that it sat unreleased for almost 20 years. It turned up again on the 30th Anniversary edition of Diamond Dogs, but like the original Rykodisc reissue, that is now out of print.


2. After Today [Young Americans Outtake, 1974]

Issued on the Sound+Vision box set and never issued on any Young Americans CD, including the 1991 Ryko and the most recent EMI deluxe reissue from 2007, this is a classic slice of Bowie’s ‘plastic’ soul which by all accounts would have made the album were it not for Bowie writing Fame with John Lennon and Carlos Alomar and then deciding to cover Across The Universe. All the elements are present and correct, Bowie’s falsetto, David Sanborn’s sax, a great funky rhythm track and some solid Bowie lyrics. A fine track which ends charmingly – as the music finally breaks down after 3:50, Bowie almost carries on singing, then laughing, declares “ooh, I was just getting into that!”


3. Growin’ Up [Diamond Dogs Outtake, 1973]

Bowie was an early admirer of Bruce Springsteen and recorded this track from The Boss’ debut Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. with Ron Wood on guitar, Aynsley Dunbar on drums and Mike Garson on piano. It was originally released as a bonus track on the 1990 Rykodisc reissue of covers album Pin Ups, but actually dates from early in the Diamond Dogs sessions. Bowie would end up recording Springsteen for three albums in a row (excluding Pin Ups) because a demo of It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City (from the sameAsbury Park album) was recorded with the Young Americans band, and then a finished version of the same track was recorded during the Station to Station sessions. This final version appeared on the Sound+Vision box set and is currently available on David Bowie: Best of 1974-1979.


4. Space Oddity [Remake, 1979]

Often referred to as the ‘Kenny Everett version’ courtesy of it having been performed on the UK radio presenter’s television show (see unique performance below), this track was originally the b-side to the Alabama Song single from 1979. It’s a completely new recording of Bowie’s breakthrough single that Rykodisc added to the 1991 reissue of Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). A bleak, stripped down version of the song with dramatic piano chords, the despair and isolation of ‘Major Tom’ is all too apparent. This was Bowie ending his incredibly creative decade the way it had begun. It should really have been saved as the b-side to Ashes to Ashes given the ‘Major Tom’ name-check in that song.

5. 1984/Dodo  [Diamond Dogs session track, 1973]

Another track originally featured on the Sound+Vision box set, this dates from when Bowie had decided to write material for a musical based on George Orwell’s 1984.However, in the end Orwell’s widow withheld the rights and Bowie was left to reshape the material he had into what would become Diamond Dogs. This song is also notable for being the last to be recorded with The Spiders in November 1973. Dodo was also tried as a standalone track. It didn’t make the final album, but did appear on the Rykodisc reissue of Diamond Dogs in 1990 as a bonus track, and again on the anniversary edition of the same album in 2004 (both now out of print).


6. Velvet Goldmine [The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars Outtake, 1971]

This track never made it to the final album, but was the b-side of the re-released Space Oddity single in 1975. The title is probably better known than the actual song, since it became the name of the 1998 glam-rock film starring Ewan McGregor. Velvet Goldmine was a bonus track on the 1990 Rykodisc reissue of Ziggy Stardust and appeared on the 30th anniversary reissue in 2002. Since then, it can only be found on David Bowie: Best of 1969-1974 (this track finally turned up again on the Five Years box set in Re:Call 1)


7. Lightning Frightening [The Man Who Sold The World Outtake, 1970)

Recorded in 1970 this track was a bonus track on the 1990 Rykodisc reissue of The Man Who Sold The World and has been long out of print.

8. Sweet Head [The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From MarsOuttake, 1972]

Recorded during the Ziggy sessions, this track would stay in the vaults until Rykodisc reissued the album in 1990. It has that classic Spiders period sound and is a solid if not outstanding track. Certainly deserving of release, although probably considered too provocative at the time. Reappeared on the now out of print 30th Anniversary Edition ofZiggy Stardust in 2002.


9. Ballad of the Adventurers [Baal EP, 1981]

Bowies appearance in the BBC TV production of Bertolt Brecht’s Baal was transmitted in February 1982 and a five-track EP was released in the UK to coincide with this. Ballad of the Adventurers is one of the tracks on the EP and remains unreleased on CD. Rykodisc’s reissues from the early nineties did not include any of the Baal EP and since then only two of the five tracks – Baal’s Hymn and Drowned Girl – have appeared on the CD format (both appeared on the reissued and expanded Sound+Vision box from EMI in 2003 and Drowned Girl also popped up on David Bowie: Best of 1980-1987). The other two unreleased-on-CD tracks are Remembering Marie A and The Dirty Song. Bowie stalwart Tony Visconti produced.


10. I Pray, Ole [Lodger Outtake, 1979]

Recorded during the sessions for the rather underrated Lodger album, this track was a solo Bowie composition that features Brian Eno on synthesizer as well as the usualLodger rhythm team of George Murray on Bass and Dennis Davis on Drums. Hasn’t been heard of since it’s inclusion on the 1991 Rykodisc reissue of the album.


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30 responses to David Bowie / Top 10 Lost Tracks

  1. Yanay Gorni says:

    Great article, Paul!
    The Candidate “demo” (aka “Alternative Candidate”) is indeed a hidden gem, a fantastic song that more people should hear. Definitely one of my favourites.
    It was in fact the first song I listened to after hearing about Bowie’s death yesterday.

  2. Zongadude says:

    Great updated stuff.
    It is worth noting that the complete BAAL EP (with the three remaining tracks still not on CD) is available in lossless 16/44 format on Qobuz.
    Technically not a CD, but it’s the next best thing since the audio format is exactly like it would be on a cd.
    http://www.qobuz.com/fr-fr/album/in-bertolt-brechts-baal-david-bowie/0094637014059

    (and they have also a lot of Bowie 12” from the 80s that never went on CD either).

  3. Scott says:

    Nice article. Bowie’s catalogue has been left out to dry like an untended garden as of late. The Five years box is a good step, but could be viewed as a very pedestrian reissue. Seems that the focus on the reissues and a lot of these details were lost as his music moved from label to label and were traded on the commodities market via bowie bonds. I know a lot of artists can get quite precious about unreleased material, I just read a big rant by Joe Jackson on a proposed Joe Jackson Band box set. However, these are all that is left. While these are technically leftovers, they are fascinating to listen to, and the only chance we have to hear “new” material from that era. Sure most of this would go over the heads of punters happy with a Best of Bowie compilation, but these tunes and others do no good decaying in a vault. The time is ticking. I for one would like a well curated upgrade with good notes and a much deeper look into that archive. The cynic in me can see these will no doubt be re-issued in the near future as something new. Hopefully the project will be done by people who are actually fans of the music.

  4. stewart says:

    another great hidden gem is the “Heroes”/”Heldon” – “Heroes”/”Heros” tracks. the full length heroes which starts off in English but then morphs into the German and French language versions. this was released as one of 4 unique 12 inchers from Germany in 1980/81. I haven’t seen these in cd format

  5. Mic Smith says:

    There’s over well in excess of 100 ‘lost’ Bowie tracks if one factors in the remixes and tracks he’s put out on soundtracks and various artists albums over the years.
    Last year a friend and I set about making our own definitive collections and then Recall came along and made some of our efforts redundant. So currently we are re-thinking how to tackle the project. It would be nice if someone officially did something along those lines and took the appropriate level of care with the material but I’m not expecting it if I’m honest.

  6. Hub Hamers says:

    Great article Paul. I’m sure we can expect a lot of re-issues which will include unreleased tracks.

    Rest in peace one of my 80’s heroes!

  7. SteveW says:

    Just gone through my CD collection now and concerned to realise I haven’t got all the Ryko releases – I’m sure I had.

    I do wish they’d re-relases the series. No chance of that I suppose?

  8. Mike Cox says:

    Without climate control!!! Wow! Bowie may have been the first to do an serious reissue of his catalog with bonus tracks? I think Rykodisc did an outstanding job with his material during that time period. I was in college so spacing out the releases worked well for my budget. Not to mention it gave me time to “take in” one album before moving to the next. Great musical journey.

  9. Kauwgompie says:

    Paul you always find a way to make your blog relevant. This is an amazng article. It made me realize that those ryko releases are must haves. You could pick them up from Ebay for $10 a pop. Now that he has passed away, they are probably worth more. I saw them for $20 yesterday. Still not a bad deal. Also all his CD deluxe versions are out of print. I’m curious what the record company is going to do. Re-release everything till kingdom come or have a more measured approach. I hope the latter.

  10. David says:

    I was able to find a digital version of this Sound And Vision boxset released in 1989 with all the 10 mentioned tracks. I guess i will check out that one.

  11. Boaz Halachmi says:

    Apparently, there was a limited edition wooden box of only 350. And it was signed… hence the current price: http://www.ebay.com/itm/David-Bowie-Sound-Vision-Wooden-Box-Set-Signed-Numbered-by-Bowie-350-of-350-/172056857631?hash=item280f634c1f:g:VWkAAOSw5dNWiFBf

  12. Salamander says:

    Other gems to look out for from the Ryko reissues series is the Limited Edition Au20 series. These are 20bit mastered 24k gold CDs of eight of the reissues (so with bonus tracks). These were mastered from the original master tapes without any limiting or compression. The titles released are: The Man Who Sold the World; Hunky Dory; Ziggy Stardust; Young Americans; Station to Station; Low; Heroes; and ChangesBowie. They sound truly fantastic, but a full boxed set may set you back $1500,- on eBay. As far a physical CDs go, these are just gorgeous.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I never saw any of these in London at all, so I’m assuming they were only available in the USA.

    • Wayne Klein says:

      As I recall the mastering for the AU20’s were unqiue AND there was limiting applied to at least be of those titles–I seem to recall it being “Low” but no longer have the disc for comparison. They also had the bonus tracks of the garden variety Ryko CD as well.

  13. Emsquared says:

    Good stuff. The Ryko Young Americans extra tracks (Who Can I Be Now and It’s Gonna Be Me) were too good to leave off the original release especially when I’d class his cover of Across The Universe as something that should have been used only as a B-side (tracks were dropped to accommodate it late in the day as a nod to meeting John Lennon). Fingers crossed that one day we get to hear those many other unheard tracks that were previewed when that discovered Sigma studios rehearsal reel was Flea Bayed (and eventually withdrawn) some years back where tracks such as The Ghouster (of which we only got to hear a snippet) sounded like they deserved a wider hearing.

  14. Peter Joslyn says:

    Am I wrong in thinking the remake of Space Oddity draws very heavily from the Plastic Ono Band’s 1st album? Sound feel and instrumentation is very similar. Love it all the same. I remember buying the Diamond Dogs reissue on vinyl in 1993, and those extra tracks were included (was it a double?). I’ve always felt they were part of the album as a result and subsequent CDs have been a comparative let down.

  15. Paul English says:

    I put together a CD of lost tracks in 2014.

    01 Memory Of A Free Festival (Part 1)
    02 London Bye Ta-Ta (Mono)
    03 Holy Holy (1971)
    04 Lightning Frightening
    05 Quicksand (Demo)
    06 Velvet Goldmine
    07 Sweet Head
    08 Growin’ Up
    09 Candidate (Demo)
    10 1984 / Dodo (Session)
    11 After Today
    12 Who Can I Be Now
    13 All Saints
    14 Some Are
    15 Abdulmajid
    16 Crystal Japan
    17 I Pray, Olé
    18 Space Oddity (Remake)
    19 Look Back In Anger (1988)

  16. Joeloop says:

    The original Ryko box was released as a 6 lps in crystal clear vinyl too!
    http://www.popsike.com/DAVID-BOWIE-RYKO-SOUNDVISION-X6-LP-BOX-SETSUPERB/220765295156.html

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Yes. If you read my New York diaries at the end of Nov last year, I saw one if these in Brooklyn for about $80. I didn’t buy it but wish I had now…

  17. Steven says:

    Happily, I have most of these. Glad I kept my 1990s CDs with the extra tracks.

  18. Shane says:

    OMG I know this box, it was on display in the music store I worked in as a kid, I always had to dust it off. What memories!

  19. MATHIS says:

    Hello , you can find all the rykodisc bonus tracks on this great blog
    this is not may blog , but if Paul is agree , you can find the links on comments

    http://www.willardswormholes.com/archives/category/david-bowie

  20. William says:

    I wish I had bought the sound and vision box set, I didn’t and have to content myself with the repackaged version that came out a few years ago, I do have a lot of the Rykodisc releases and yesterday I bought a bootleg of the toy album, I’m still chasing the stage dvda and three of the sacd releases, hopefully one day I’ll own them, also I was looking at the live in santa Monica 72 cd and apparently some issues are edited so if anyone knows the best issue to buy please share your knowledge, thank you for this Paul

  21. Yossi Barak says:

    I have been a true fan and collector of Bowie R.I.P, since childhood,
    so, luckily, I hold in my collection almost any edition in vinyl and cds (RCA, Ryko, EMI) The Ryko cds were also a great improvement in sound,
    since the RCA cds sounded bad even compare to the records and many of them had a simple paper with the list of songs inside. Many years ago – before the internet days – I bought a book about bowie with names of all his released songs, rumored recordings. I believe there are more leftovers that he simply didn’t like and didn’t want to release.

  22. William says:

    Of the sound and vision box sets (excluding the most recent fat box re-release) which is the best to buy, the ryko 3 discs and cdv one or the 4disc Virgin records one which actually replicates the ryko one but contains songs going further in his career

    • Paul English says:

      There are differences between the two sets. Not all of the Ryko set (1989) is carried over to the Virgin box (2003). But the latter has four full CDs and is available cheaply (it’s been repackaged)

      I bought the Ryko vinyl and CD sets when they came out and love them both. The Virgin set is good but uses the 1999 remasters which I do not like.

      Go for both. The Wiki page outlines the track lists so you can see the differences – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_%2B_Vision_%28box_set%29

  23. Eric says:

    Must say I most certainly appreciated the Ryko releases. I have the entire CD and vinyl catalog from Ryko …in fact, I just purchased from a collector the entire vinyl suite sealed. he sat on them for 25 years and it was the day before his death we had a greed on a price. Ryko now gets maligned by the audio purists. I agree that the Bowie catalog has been forgotten except for the easy reissues…. One can hope they take the Bob Dylan approach and simply release All the bonus tracks from the box and individual releases into a single format.

  24. Pingback:Bruce Springsteen pays tribute to David Bowie at start of River tour | superdeluxeedition

  25. Marc says:

    Bombers!

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