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RECORD COLLECTOR: David Bowie / Never Let Me Down (1987)

David Bowie / Never Let Me Down 1987

David Bowie’s Never Let Me Down (Click to enlarge)

In the first of an occasional feature, we look at some relative rarities associated with a well-known album.

With the news yesterday that David Bowie‘s 1973 Aladdin Sane is being prepped for a 40th anniversary reissue we look back at the man’s slightly less lauded Never Let Me Down album released only 14 years later in 1987.

Ironically, one of Bowie’s least-loved records (even by the man himself) saw the marketing men go to town on the three singles (Day-In Day-Out,  Time Will Crawl and Never Let Me Down) with a myriad of formats, multiple remixes and limited edition items.

We’ll take a look at a selection of commercial releases that supported the album. It’s not supposed to be comprehensive, but rather a flavour of some of the interesting items that were released at the time. The numbers below relate to the main photo above.


#1: Never Let Me Down Japanese mini-LP CD (2007)

David Bowie / Never Let Me Down 2007 Japanese mini-LP CD

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The exquisite Japanese vinyl replica CD of this album was issued in 2007. Being a replica of the original packaging, the track Too Dizzy is listed on the miniature sleeve, although it doesn’t actually play on the CD, since this pressing uses the 1999 EMI mastering. Bowie had decided soon after release that hated Too Dizzy and had it removed from all subsequent pressings of the album.


#2: Never Let Me Down original music book (1987 – Hal Leonard Publishing)

David Bowie / Never Let Me Down music book

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This 52-page music book provides notation for the 11-track version of the album (i.e. it includes Too Dizzy!). No guitar ‘tabs’ but chord boxes, melody and lyrics. Some nice full-page black and white photos of a serious and moody looking Bowie front and back of this publication.


#3 Day-In Day-Out UK cassette single (1987 – TCEA 230)

David Bowie / Day-In Day-Out UK Cassette single

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The first single off the Never Let Me Down album was Day-In Day-Out. In the UK this was issued on two seven-inch vinyl versions, two 12-inch records and this cassette single, which came in a case reminiscent of the old VHS rental boxes.

This was something of a short lived packaging experiment from EMI who released a few other singles in this form (Duran Duran’s Skin Trade being one).

The track listing here simply repeats what was on the standard 12-inch vinyl single:

  1. Day-In Day-Out (Extended Dance Mix)
  2. Day-In Day-Out (Extended Dub Mix)
  3. Julie

Julie was one of two non-album tracks released. Girls was the other which appeared in three different variations on the Time Will Crawl single (they are single version, Extended Edit and Japanese Version). Eighties remixer extraordinaire Shep Pettibone was responsible for the Day-In Day-Out remixes.


#4 Never Let Me Down Japanese CD single (1987 – CP20-5520)

David Bowie / Never Let Me Down Japanese CD single

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1987 was the breakthrough year for the CD single in the UK. Despite this, none were issued for the three 45s from Never Let Me Down. Japan was the only territory where a commercial CD single was available (there was a US promo) and this 6-track release of Never Let Me Down contained the following tracks:

  1. Never Let Me Down (Extended Dance Remix) 7.03
  2. Never Let Me Down (7″ Remix) 3.58
  3. Never Let Me Down (Dub) 3.57
  4. Never Let Me Down (a cappella) 2.03
  5. Never Let Me Down (instrumental) 4.02
  6. ’87 And Cry (Single Version) 3.53

Despite being one of the better songs from the album, if you can make it through all five of these remixes in a row, you’ll never want to hear Never Let Me Down again! ’87 and Cry is described as the ‘single version’ although it doesn’t appear to have been a single anywhere. Maybe it was a cancelled fourth single?


#5 Never Let Me Down UK 12″ single (1987 – 12EA 239)

David Bowie / Never Let Me Down UK 12" single

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The UK twelve-inch of the third and final single from the album contains the following tracks:

  1. Never Let Me Down (Extended Dance Remix) 7.03
  2. ’87 And Cry (edit) 3.53
  3. Never Let Me Down (dub) 3.57
  4. Never Let Me Down (acappella) 2.03

 


#6 Never Let Me Down UK cassette single (1987 – TCEA 239)

David Bowie / Never Let Me Down UK cassette single

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In the mid to late ’80s, UK cassette singles tended to be quite interesting, pulling in rare remixes from other formats, often becoming unique compilations in their own right. In the early ’90s, the industry spoiled this and cassettes were forced to replicate the basic two-track seven-inch singles. Track listing here is as follows (spelling and credits as per the cassette)

  1. Never Let Me Down (7″ Version) 4.04
  2. Time Will Crawl (Extended Dance Mix) 6.11
  3. Day-In Day-Out (Groucho Mix) 6.28
  4. ’87 & Cry (Single Version) 3.52

The ‘Groucho Mix’ of Day-In Day-Out was issued as a limited edition remix 12-inch vinyl when that single was released (mixed by Paul “Groucho” Smykle). Time Will Crawl is the standard 12-inch version (not the “Dance Crew Mix” from the second 12-inch vinyl). All in all a smart little cassette with all three singles in some form or another.


#7 Glass Spider DVD+2CD Edition 2007

David Bowie / Glass Spider 2CD+DVD

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Released in 2007 this set provides a live performance of the Glass Spider tour filmed in Sydney on 7th and 9th November 1987. 2CDs of audio are also included which the performance taken from Montreal on 30th August 1987.

 

 

 


Did you purchase any of these? Would love to hear about your memories of this release, especially if you have any rare items. Please leave a commment or email a photo!

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17 responses to RECORD COLLECTOR: David Bowie / Never Let Me Down (1987)

  1. fred smith says:

    OK some songs on this album are rubbish (‘Zeroes,Shining Star ,Day In Day Out)but look beneath the awful 80’s production and a few worthy songs remain..the Lennonesque tittle track,Time Will Crawl and Bang Bang really ain’t that bad..are they???I brought all 3 singles from the album though i thought ‘Day In ‘ was a bad choice for the first single,with perhaps Bowie’s most mundane titled b-side ever.’Julie’.Also worthy of a mention is the Japanese cd issue from ’87 with the bonus of the hilarious Japanese version of ‘Girls';only available here i believe.

  2. Paul Burden says:

    Good feature.
    After owning the Lp, I bought the cd & was surprised to find quite a few of the tracks were longer on the cd. Have 3 versions on cd (’87, ’95 & ’99).
    I prefer the Virgin ’95 edition with Julie, Girls & When The Wind Blows bonus tracks (minus Too Dizzy). I think I need help.

  3. Alan says:

    I have all of the above (I no longer have the cassettes though). In addition I have two 12″ each of Day In Day Out and Time Will Crawl, all the 7″ singles, a picture 7″ of NLMD and a red vinyl box set of DIDO.
    I have the original EMI America CD, the Virgin remaster with bonus tracks, another reissue without bonus tracks or Too Dizzy, the 1999 remaster and the mini vinyl replica.

  4. Alan says:

    Regarding the tracks being longer on the CD than on vinyl, there is a third variant, the cassette had some tracks longer than the vinyl, but shorter than the CD.

  5. Michel Drolet says:

    I agree with Fred, not a bad album per se (Time Will Crawl is an excellent track)…there was also of course the tour program and a photo book that was released after that tour with great shots of Bowie!

  6. Alan says:

    Yeah the tour book is very nice.

  7. Paul Burden says:

    I forgot the VHS video single for Day-In Day-Out, that was an 18 certificate. It had the Day-In Day-Out video twice (Album version & Dance Mix) & Loving The Alien.

  8. Steve Marine says:

    I love this new feature! Awesome job! And, although this album gets a lots of negative press, I can think of other Bowie albums I like less. (But then, I think I’m a bigger fan of his 80’s period than most people.)

  9. Alan says:

    There was also, but I haven’t got them, a 12″ promo of Too Dizzy and a promo CD of Bang Bang with the album version and the Montreal live version.

    • Will says:

      I enjoyed that Bang Bang promo CD single. Nice cover art – well, nice in keeping with the overall terrible look of the entire Never Let Me Down art direction that is.

      And don’t forget the remixed version of Time Will Crawl that came out in 2008 on Bowie’s iSelect CD, in which most of the ’80s sheen was removed in an effort to make it sound less terrible. Bowie stated at the time that he wished he could do that for the entire album, but I suppose he figured it could only be done at a loss. I still enjoy Zeroes and a couple other tracks from Never Let Me Down, but it isn’t a go-to album by any means.

  10. Paul Kent says:

    NLMD gets a plus point from me simply for “Zeroes”, which is one of my favourite Bowie songs… sorry, Fred! ;)

  11. DEAN says:

    I have three different CD releases, including the Mini LP. The opening comment “With the news yesterday that David Bowie‘s 1973 Aladdin Sane is being prepped for a 40th anniversary reissue we look back at the man’s slightly less lauded Never Let Me Down” must have been written very tongue in cheek.

    This album does have some good tracks – Bang Bang, Time Will Crawl, Beat of Your Drum. Day-In Day-Out isn’t too bad either. But elsewhere it’s all really poor. The production values really suck the energy out of the performance, those tinkling keyboards are painful.

    Peter Frampton was on the tour, and therefore plays on the Live DVD/CD. He even covers a bit of the vocals (!). The live show was a perfect mirror of the album – that is, overblown, poor, and horrid. The DVD of the live show makes me squirm in my seat when watching it, I’m embarrassed for Bowie! It’s all simple a bad idea.

    MInd you, I’m a fan of Tin Machine, so take that for what it’s worth. Never Let Me Down is a tepid effort, but acts as a yardstick for us to judge his other works. Too Dizzy isn’t any worse that half the other tracks!

  12. Micha says:

    The Glass Spider DVD+2CD Edition is exemplary for the current quality-control-free era of the music industry:
    The “remastered” DVD is in pure MONO, with the mono soundtrack NOT using both channels of the VHS combined, but only ONE of the channels spread over both channels (2.0) or even “upmixed in 5.1″ (by Peter Mew)! You can here this clearly at the solo guitar intro, which on the VHS has an impressive left/ right channel echo, so you hear every note twice, on the DVD you hear them only once, because of the missing channel (but now in 5.1!).
    The first bonus CD has also a mastering defect, from track 10 (1:03)onwards the tracks are sounding somehow “out of phase” (I don’t know what happened here).

    …by the way, the Bowie DVD isn’t the only remastered to 5.1 mono DVD, another one is the deluxe “Imagine: John Lennon” DVD, which once on the VHS was in great true stereo, now on DVD it is in mono /”electronically reprocessed ” for stereo and 5.1 sound.
    Strange.

  13. Alan says:

    The sound was indeed bad on the DVD, for example, on The Jean Genie, when Carlos and Frampton have their guitar duel, you can barely hear the latter.

  14. Eric says:

    This was his best album; you’re all crazy! The only track not up to scratch was the Glass Spider nonsense. I’ve loved this album since the day it was released (my copy doesn’t even have a barcode, silly EMI had to put stickered ones on the case), and also have the later reissue with the 3 bonus tracks. 1985-1987 was a very furtive period for Bowie, at least in my opinion. Great feature.

  15. Zac says:

    I think Never Let Me Down was one of Bowie’s better ’80s albums. Let’s Dance had three very strong singles, but the rest of the album is bland. Tonight had two strong singles (Blue Jean and Loving The Alien), but the rest of the album was insipid. The singles on Never Let Me Down may not have been as memorable, but there were some decent album tracks on there for a change, such as ’87 And Cry, Beat Of Your Drum, Zeroes and Glass Spider (if you overlook the cringeworthy narration).

    I wouldn’t call myself a Tin Machine fan, but it did demonstrate that Bowie was able to pull himself sharply out of the artistic nosedive that had plagued his other ’80s albums, and arguably the first signs of this could be heard on Never Let Me Down.

  16. Pingback:Saturday Deluxe Special: 16 Jan 2015: A life listening to David Bowie | superdeluxeedition

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