David Bowie / Top 10: Lost Tracks


David Bowie / Sound+Vision Box Set / Rykodisc 1989
Despite multiple reissue campaigns, some David Bowie gems remain out of print – here’s ten of the best

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 3 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 same Asbury 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.

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 Mars Outtake, 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 of Ziggy 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 usual Lodger 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.


The EMI 2003 expanded Sound+Vision box is still available and can be ordered by clicking here.


Let us know if you agree with this selection? What would you include? Leave a comment below!


33 responses to David Bowie / Top 10: Lost Tracks

  1. Tom Tom says:

    This was valuable material to find out – l too agree with the new’s but l think RCA held back with this music off Demo’s until Bowie’s death? What happened ‘they’ brought out all his back catalog with demo’s on most off his L.P.’s . 3 or 4 track’s at the end off the main L.P.. Demo’s off the next L.P. that Bowie was going to release next!! It’s all about the MONEY!!

  2. Adey says:

    The baal ep was reissued as download only (but only up to 320kbps) in 2007, and is still available. I am very glad it was only available to download in lossy format as I own one of a handful of “abbey road” produced promo cds, with all 5 tracks.

  3. David says:

    Amsterdam which now lurks on Five Years has been a very evasive track even more so than Velvet Goldmine which has turfed up on the Ken Scott 2003 Ziggy DVD. Still at least it can be downloaded now.

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  5. Ray says:

    I too kept all the Ryko released. I even have a Time Life/Ryko version of The Singles 1969-1993. I don’t know how rare this is exactly. Manufactured in Canada. Disc 1 has 17 tracks, including the David Live version of All The Young Dudes. Disc 2 has 16 tracks, but nothing after 1987. So why does the title say 1969-1993?

  6. Friday says:

    Nice list. Who Can I Be Now would fit too.

  7. Allan Calleja says:

    what we need are anniversary editons of THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD and Hunky Dory. A 5.1 mix of Man Who Sold the World would be a masterpiece to listen to. Most of Bowie’s 5.1 releases are sensational

  8. Allan Calleja says:

    Two gems on the box set SOUND AND VISION and were issued on the 40th anniversary of Space Oddity are the demo of Space Oddity with spoken introduction to the publishers ( it’s a duet with mate Hutch) and the cello version of Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud ( this is a gem that alone is worth getting the anniversary edition which also contains the dramatic Italian version of Space Oddity aka Ragazza Solo, Ragazza Solo which hysterically for those who speak Italian would be aware that the lyric has nothing to do with space travel

  9. Antonio J says:

    Useless people…
    Those dear old Rykodisc CDs issued in the 90s were fantastic. They included these songs as bonus tracks.
    Common sense failed to appear again and they got out of print and substituted by a (supposed) far superior quality rerelease.
    I still buy Rykodisc, of course. Even the design is much better.
    The Rykodisc Sound+Vision Box? Out of print too.
    What did you expect?

  10. Tim says:

    I’m glad I kept all of my Ryko reissues, despite their inferior sound now compared to the EMI versions. I also still have the original Ryko box, and the EMI box, as well as the anniversary issues. It is time for some updates, however. My only beef with the EMI reissues is they did not include the bonus tracks on the standard discs. However, in Japan, where I’ve lived for almost 17 years, the EMI and Sony releases were all given the paper sleeve/replica LP mini packaging (the Sony stuff were all doubles, with additional mixes). So, I am fairly satisfied. And I will say this is a pretty good list!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Agree with you re the Rykos. I have them all plus the Sound and Vision CD box. Although the Rykos are considered a bit “toppy” and thin by some, I”m not sure that the EMIs (without the extra tracks) were considered superior. I think they had their own problems.

      The japanese mini LP CDs are indeed lovely and the packaging is incredible. The Disk Union Boxes are the icing on the cake, if you have any of them.

  11. P. Obbard says:

    I love this article, though I would (of course) have some different choices. A few notes:

    1. Tony Visconti has said there is another, slower version of “After Today” in the vaults; he was surprised Ryko chose the version they did or the S&V box.

    2. “Growin’ Up” and “Hard to be a Saint” weren’t the only Springsteen songs from ASBURY PARK that Bowie covered; he also produced a version of “Spirits in the Night” for the Astronettes (a side project of Bowie’s which saw eventual release in the 1990s).

    3. Visconti also doesn’t remember “I Pray Ole” being recorded during the LODGER sessions. On the Illustrated DB Discography site (http://www.illustrated-db-discography.nl/), there is an active debate going on about whether or not “I Pray Ole” is really a Tin Machine-era recording, at least in part, perhaps using some backing tracks from the LODGER sessions.

    Personally, as far as Ryko’s LODGER goes, I adore the 1988 “Look Back in Anger” — that’s a “lost” track for my list!

    Thanks again for a thoughtful article.

  12. Robert says:

    I heard that for my favorite album 1. outside DB recorded for some 24 hours of music… and on youtube are some outtakes they sound great… I’m waiting for a 4 cd box (minimal;-) for that one! Right now I have Bowie on my mp3 player including 8 of 10 tracks mentioned above… and yeah they are great!

  13. My favorite lost track is “Holy Holy,” included on the early Ryko reissue of The Man Who Sold the World. Looking it up now, I learn that it’s a ’71 re-recording of a 1970 single which is even harder to locate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Holy

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Yes great track. Herbie Flowers the bassist, played with Bowie a lot during this period. He also played on Transformer and Walk on the Wild Side. He was at a wedding I was at a few years back – really nice guy!

  14. Chuffy says:

    I own the Sound and Vision box. It also has a CD laserdisc in it.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      It’s a great box. You can still play the audio tracks from the disc you are referring to (it’s actually CDV – CD Video) but the video of Ashes to Ashes doesn’t work unless you still have one of the original players for some reason…

  15. jcdemedicis says:

    There are several recordings of lost songs from albums sessions:
    ERNIE JOHNSON (Aborted Opera Rock 1968)
    Tiny Tim – Where’s the loo- Season Folk- Just one moment Sir- Early monning- Going Down-Noon Lunchtime –Evening -Ernie Boy – This my Day – Various times of the Day (suite)
    From Space Oddity
    Mother Grey – Angel Angel Grubby Face – Revered Raymond Brown- Hole in the ground- Threepenny Joe
    From The man Who sold the world
    I´ve got Lightning – Bombers- Buzz the Fuzz
    From Hunky Dory
    How lucky you are – Rupert the riley – Right on mother – Looking for a friend – Almost grown- Shadow man- Man in the middle- the invader – Cyclops
    From Ziggy Stardust
    Blackhole Kids – It’s Gonna Rain Again – Only One Paper Left – Round and around – Sweet Head – Velvet Goldmine – John I’m only dancing- All the young dudes – My death- something happens- Don’t be afraid-
    From Aladdin Sane
    Zion (aka) a laid in vain
    From Pin ups
    White light White heat – God only knows- Waiting for the man- Growin’ up
    From Diamond Dogs (THE MUSICAL aborted)
    Wilderness (1984) – Are you coming, are you coming – The Ballad Of Ira Hayes- Dodo- Big Brother
    From Young Americans
    I’m in the mood for love – Too Fat Polka – Do the Ruby (with Bette Midler) – The Gouster – Shilling the Rubes – I’m divine- After today – footstompin- Who can I be now? – It’s Gonna Be Me – Lazer – Let’s twist again (with lennon)
    From Station to Station
    it’s hard to be a saint in the city -Don’t look Back (outtake 1975)

    With Iggy Pop
    Drink to me (Iggy pop sessions 1975)
    Moving on and turn blue (Iggy Pop sessions 1975) and acoustic 1975 demo from aborted- Bowie penned this when Iggy was out of the studio.
    Outtakes from the aborted OST the Man who felt to earth
    Subterraneans (demo)
    Toni Visconti once mentioned that 14 Lodger outtakes exist prior to recording Scary Monster.

    Many songs have been rescued for further work, singles, others only played live, others are unfinished projects and even re-titled for other jobs and many have appeared on the Ryko reissues (thank goodness), but many have Bowie his power and we are all waiting when will disclose some day. Above Luxe editions of Hunky Dory, Low, Heroes, Lodger … Some are available in Bootlegs, others are completely lost or very bad sound.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks for your comments. Very interesting!

    • Mike West says:

      Amazing knowledge of bowie, your not Kevin Cann are you, I bet you have all these in your vault, thanks for all the info, love on ya!

    • J says:

      Do you know of any bootleg that exists with a cut of Iggy Pop and Bowie’s “Drink to Me” on it? Don’t care if it is a rough cut, I have been wanting to hear that song for years since I read the RS interview with Bowie in the 70s during one of my searches for rare/older music.
      And where can one find any of those other titles of those lost racks you mentioned? I know some mentioned are already on the remastered releases of the earlier Bowie albums; but what about the ones that were never officially released?

  16. Steve Marine says:

    This is a great list. (Bowie is God!) I love that Bowie has been doing deluxe editions for several years now. My only complaint is that they aren’t coming out fast enough! I really want him to do the Berlin trilogy.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Hi Steve – thanks for (all) your comments! Much appreciated – glad you like the blog. I reckon we will get either a 40th Anniversary Ziggy Stardust or Hunky Dory next… but a Berlin trilogy would be interesting….

  17. Paul Sinclair says:

    Hi Paul, thanks for your comments. The a and b-sides of Memory of a Free Festival did actually make another appearance on disc 2 of the 2009 David Bowie / Space Oddity reissue from EMI. The other track you mention sounds very interesting!

  18. Paul Winnett says:

    There are two tracks that are absolute gems which have either never been released, or, missing since the Ryko reissues.
    One is the single version of Memory of a free festival which is far better than the album version, and was the first track ever cut with Mick Ronson.
    The other track which has never been officially released is Miss Peculiar ( aka How lucky you are) There are a couple of different versions of this song, the versions on YouTube are quite sedate, but there is a massive John Barry type arrangement which is astonishing. Big blasting horn sections and changing time signatures. It’s lyrically very sexist, on par with young Jagger, and that’s the only reason I can guess it’s never been released, but Bowie must if liked the song as he kept trying to record it. Shame. It’s a brilliant melodic song.

  19. stefano says:

    A while ago Record Collector published a serious feature about NEVER (officially and sometimes also unofficially) released DB tracks/versions suggesting he is waiting 2012 when his EMI license will expire for some release.

    To me it starts to resemble to Beach Boys’ Smile release this year(interestingly since the announcement of its release no website selling music has a release date, again…).

    If you align just the studio recordings avalialble only on bootlegs (themselves most of the time unavailable) the lack of official DVD release of at least the Cracked Actor BBC documentary in full, the entirety of BBC recordings (once more Bowie at the BEEB is not complete), you can think of something like an 8-10 CD and 2-3 DVD official box set; maybe throwing in a couple of concerts from the ’70 more interesting than “Live” and “Stage” (some disappointment too for the Nassau released with the last “Station To Station” because it is not complete with talking between songs) as well.

    Incidentally, a CD release as well of Baal will be a good idea: do people understand the problems of sound quality because of compression when buying digital immaterial music?


    Stefano, Milano, Italy

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Hi Stefano – I’m surprised Baal never came out under Rykodisc. They even managed to sneak Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth out as a ‘bonus’ disc in their issue of The Singles 1969-1993.

      Cracked Actor has loads of legal mine fields to do with who ‘owns’ the soundtrack. I think that is why it’s never been officially released. It would work well with a decent super deluxe of Diamond Dogs…

  20. Tim says:

    Good list- agree with most of it. On the Rykodisc issue of Hunky Dory (the mastering of which was rather thin and ‘toppy’, there were some demo versions and outtakes. The demo of Quicksand was epic- fraught, intense and used to make my dog howl uncontrollably. Sadly I ‘lost’ the disc in a relationship split up (she didn’t have great taste but loved Bowie, worst luck!) but of course I have the 99 EMI issue of one of Bowie’s greatest ever albums. And presumably some kind of Deluxe Hunky Dory must be due some time soon.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Hi Tim – thanks for your comments. From his ‘classic’ period Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters are the only albums to have not had any kind of anniversary/deluxe edition (this doesn’t include live albums and pin ups)

      I would agree that Hunky Dory is probably next. Don’t forget that Let’s Dance has it’s 30th anniversary in 2013 – I can imagine Bowie doing a good deal with a label on that album for a big Super Deluxe Edition with demos/serious moonlight tour/remixes etc.

  21. Paul Sinclair says:

    He’s a great artist of that there is no doubt. His ’70s period is virtually unmatched. 13 studio albums between 1969 and 1980 (without a duffer), plus produced Transformer for Lou Reed. He also co-wrote two great albums with Iggy Pop in the late 70s (The Idiot and Lust for Life).

    All this and the constant touring, reinventing himself, making The Man Who Fell To Earth. Amazing.

    The Beatles’ 7-year blitz from 1963-1970 is the only pop/rock achievement that betters what Bowie did in the 1970s IMHO!

  22. Paul Fraser says:

    The Baal ep has thankfully been reissued. You can buy it on itunes.

  23. many years ago the thought of me ever owning a david bowie release never entered my head…..one day an old school friend of my sister who was over from australia visiting brought in a cassette for me it contained 2 tracks the first was a big hit at the time in oz by a band called men at work the track of course was ‘down under’, she told me it was going to be massive over here. the sencond was a track by a certain english man who was spending a lot of time in australia right then, yeah david bowie the track ‘let’s dance’ it blew my mind…now this aint bowies best work we know but to me for some reason i was stunned by it.
    Now many years later with several bowie albums in my collection, i actually find myself looking out for news of bowie re-issues and rareties, he is and always will be a genius i often find myself sitting and thinking what to play and bowie is one of those regulars that come to mind, this set you talk about here looks like a golden nugget for fans and collectors of his work, how i wish i had this in my collection now that i fully understand his craft like works…..heres hoping for more Bowie beauties like this in the near future.

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