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RECORD COLLECTOR: David Bowie’s Never Let Me Down album from 1987

David Bowie / Never Let Me Down 1987

Happy Birthday to David Bowie‘s album Never Let Me Down –  29 today! To celebrate SDE is revisiting a ‘record collector’ post from quite a few years back, where we take an in-depth collector’s eye at the release.

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.

Below is an examination of some of the 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.


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

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

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.


David Bowie / Never Let Me Down music book

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

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.


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

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

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.


David Bowie / Never Let Me Down Japanese CD single

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

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?


David Bowie / Never Let Me Down UK 12" single

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

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

David Bowie / Never Let Me Down UK cassette single

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

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.


David Bowie / Glass Spider 2CD+DVD

#7 Glass Spider DVD+2CD Edition 2007

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.

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29 responses to RECORD COLLECTOR: David Bowie’s Never Let Me Down album from 1987

  1. fredpostman says:

    At the time i struggled to get through to the end listening to it,but now can appreciate some [but not all]of the songs,including the lovely title track and ‘Time Will Crawl’,which if was the first single could have made a difference to the album’s poor chart showing.

  2. Just sayin' says:

    As Carl Marsh opined in a Shrieback interview last year, even the Bowie albums you thought weren’t very good always had at least one killer track on them. “Time Will Crawl” is most definitely your target here.

  3. Paul fraser says:

    There was also a VHS single of Day In Day Out, with the single edit and an extended edit with a longer form of the video and a ruder message in the children’s bricks at the end when the armed police knock down the house. I’ve got one to sell if anyone’s interested.

  4. Eric says:

    Argh, I hate being Mr Picky but in the UK at least, Never Let Me Down was released on Monday April 20th 1987….a Bank Holiday.

    It’s a much better album than anyone gives credit for though, I prefer it to Tonight and even Let’s Dance.

  5. Hans says:

    I don’t think it’s a bad album at all. Too dizzy is not The best thing he recorded but compare it to his version of “god only knows” from the “Tonight” album.

  6. Brian says:

    I prefer the mix of the NLMD single which has the sax instead of the harmonica. Its far superior.

  7. Simon F says:

    Got the 7″ of Time Will Crawl, and that’s all anyone really needs of this album.

  8. Ken says:

    Time Will Crawl was the best song from the album for sure. I always thought at the time extremely underrated but it did get regular play as a video. The title track was also not bad. It’s an album as a whole I tried to like more then I could bring myself to enjoy.

  9. T.K. says:

    Even if its not exactly from that period, i’d recommend listening to the MM mix of time will crawl from the Iselect Bowie compilation.

    In my opinion Bowie did best in rearranging that track.

  10. Saad says:

    You can actually almost forgive Bowie for NLMD given the weird & wonderful combination of mixes & formats!

  11. RJSWinchester says:

    I have the cassingle of Never Let Me Down. Back then cassingles were quite hard to come by. It is a weak album and you can’t blame it on eighties production. The singles apart, the quality of the songwriting is very poor. However, the Time Will Crawl MM Mix wouldn’t sound out of place on The Next Day.

  12. Dean says:

    No scope for a Super Deluxe Edition then. LOL

  13. Steve W says:

    At the time I loved the pomposity of it and much preferred it to Tonight. Nowadays it’s a long way down the list of ranked albums but there is still a lot to love in it. Having listened to all of his majaor recordings over the past few months I can see it as the point when he was starting to tire of his pop alter ego and was beginning ro experiment again. As others have said Time Will Crawl is a killer track and worthy of inclusin on any list of best Bowie singles.

  14. Auntie Sabrina says:

    The CD version of the LP had slightly longer versions of some of the songs to ‘entice’ you to buy it.

  15. Guitarmanc says:

    Yes definitely worst album. 3 guilty pleasures for me are NLMD, Shining Star and Zeroes. Unfortunately cancelled out by the worst sequence of songs ever by Bowie at the end : NY in Love, 87 and Cry and Bang Bang! Urrrgh!
    Gotta be the king of all bad second sides.

  16. Neil says:

    It’s a better album than Lodger in my opinion. I have never taken to that album at all or Young Americans or Station To Station to name another two.

    • Trash says:

      Speechless!
      Better than Lodger?? Young Americans????? Station to Station?????????

      Still, each to their own ;-)

      • Neil says:

        Lodger had two decent tracks on it Look Back in Anger and Boys Keep Swinging apart from those the rest of that album was garbage i felt. I liked the singles from both Station To Station and Young Americans but felt the albums were very poor.

  17. probablyrustin says:

    I’m not a big fan of Young Americans either (it sounds so dated in comparison to many of his other 70s albums), but do like Lodger and especially Station to Station.

  18. Arcweld says:

    I can’t believe it’s 29 years since. I remember buying it in HMV Birmingham on cassette and listening too it straight away at my grandparents house like it was yesterday. I loved it at the time, I still have a soft spot for it. Perhaps for that memory, and that year I saw the GS Tour in Manchester.

    Thanks for the reminder. Where did the time go.

  19. Newmusicmark says:

    I think Too Dizzy was better then the entire second Tin Machine album. It’s really not that bad of a song. Not sure why he hated so much to remove from the record.

  20. Eric says:

    Really surprised to see New York’s In Love take a bashing on here…I thought that was quite highly regarded as one of the better tracks?! Certainly is one of my favourites, along with the title cut (the sax-heavy single remix grates on me a bit too much), and obviously Time Will Crawl.

  21. martin farnworth says:

    only a deranged fan would claim this to amongst his best work. when it’s bad it’s very bad. that said i’d echo other comments. it has its moments and is a half decent record. overall, a notable improvement on Tonight. although I don’t care so much to defend it to those who lazily write it off as some travesty, given that life’s to short and people should rightly concentrate on the vast body of superior work.

  22. Eric says:

    All I remember of this was the video on MTV of Day in Day out…and of seeing him on the Glass Spider tour

  23. John Sayers says:

    There was a USA vhs video single for Day In, Day Out as well – used to have it myself.

  24. william says:

    I liked some songs off of this album. But compared to his other albums, I think this one sounded too commercial and that’s what put a lot of people off of it.

  25. Billy D says:

    I listened to this a lot after release. Not so much since. Time Will Crawl is one of the few Bowie tracks my wife will listen to.

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