CD Review: David Bowie

David Bowie
David Bowie: Deluxe Edition
Deram/UME
By David Chiu

David Bowie a mod rocker? If you go back to the very beginning of his career—before he became glam rock icon Ziggy Stardust—the young David Jones recorded music between 1967 and 1968 that was more in the vein of theatrical-sounding English pop. That brief output of that period is collected in his debut album, which is now reissued as part of UME”s Deluxe Edition series. While the music is more pop-oriented (almost more rooted in Broadway or London’s West End) compared to the legendary music he would put out post Space Oddity and beyond, it’s not embarrassing—the songs are certainly of their time. In fact some of the story-songs on David Bowie are quite catchy such as “Love You Till Tuesday,” “There Is a Happy Land” and “When I Live My Dream,” an elegant ballad that featured Bowie’s strongest singing at that point. If you listen closely, there are clues and hints of the familiar Bowie sound that would come in time:  the quirky “We Are Hungry Men” and the Brecht/Weill-sounding “Little Bombardier.” There’s even a macabre tale in “Please Mr. Gravedigger” complete with the sound of rain and sneezing. This reissue contains both the stereo and mono versions of the original album; the second disc features tracks not on David Bowie such as singles, and previously unreleased tracks. A few of the edgier tracks can be found on disc 2 like R&B-ish “The Gospel According to Tony Day” and the soul funk of “Heat of the Morning” (There’s also some uncharacteristic tracks including “The Laughing Gnome” (with its Alvin and the Chipmunks-inspired backing vocals), and “Did You Ever Have a Dream,” which could have been a Mama and the Papa song.) While David Bowie would appeal more to the die-hard fans to round out their collection, it is still a somewhat fascinating and curious look of how far the Thin White Duke would come in his career.

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