David Bowie – Who Can I Be Now? [1974-1976] (2016) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

David Bowie – Who Can I Be Now? [1974-1976] (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 03:49:57 minutes | 8,58 GB | Genre: Rock
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Digital booklet | © Parlophone UK

The boxed set, which is named after a track recorded in 1974 but not officially released until the 1990s, includes a huge set of studio recordings of some of David Bowie’s most memorable tracks. Driven by an entirely deeper dynamic than most pop artists, David Bowie inhabits a very special world of extraordinary sounds and endless vision. Unwilling to stay on the treadmill of rock legend and avoiding the descent into ever demeaning and decreasing circles of cliché, Bowie writes and performs what he wants, when he wants. His absence from the endless list of “important events” has just fuelled interest. Constant speculation about what the guy was up to has even led some to wonder if this is his greatest reinvention ever.

Digital Download 192kHz/24bit Boxed Set:
Diamond Dogs (Remastered)
David Live (Original Mix) (Remastered)*
The Gouster*
Young Americans (Remastered)
Station To Station (Remastered)
* Exclusive to WHO CAN I BE NOW? (1974-1976)

Parlophone Records are proud to announce David Bowie – Who Can I Be Now?, the second in a series of box sets spanning his career from 1969. The box set features all of the material officially released by Bowie during the so-called American phase of his career from 1974 to 1976. The boxed set, which is named after a track recorded in 1974 but not officially released until the 1990s, includes a huge set of studio recordings of some of David Bowie’s most memorable tracks.

A sequel to the 2015 box Five Years 1969-1973, 2016’s Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976) covers just three years but this stretch in the mid-’70s happens to be the peak of David Bowie’s superstardom. That much can be gleaned from the number of albums within the set: three studio albums – Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Station to Station, each released in a subsequent year – along with the double live album David Live from 1974. Four albums in three years is plenty but to that core canon Who Can I Be Now? add an early version of Young Americans called The Gouster. The latter seems to bend the rules of this extensive Bowie catalog reissue project, which is to preserve the officially released canon and keep unreleased tracks – whether they surfaced on the ’90s Rykodisc reissues or remain unheard – locked up in the vaults. The Gouster contains “Who Can I Be Now?” and “It’s Gonna Be Me,” both originally released on the 1990 Ryko edition of Young Americans, along with alternate versions of “Can You Hear Me?” and “Right,” plus the disco version of “John, I’m Only Dancing,” but otherwise it plays like Young Americans, only not quite as good. Furthermore, its presence calls into question why the unreleased outtake “Shilling the Rubes” is left behind alongside the “Dodo” that showed up on the Ryko CD of Diamond Dogs: if the door is opened for some outtakes, it’s hard not to miss those that are absent. Still, this is quibbling. The Who Can I Be Now? box set remains as beautifully produced as Five Years, and a deep dive into its contents produces many rewards. Perhaps the alternate album mixes are only slightly different, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the rapid development of Bowie’s music during these three years. The distance between Diamond Dogs and Station to Station is vast, and the addition of the live albums accentuates how deeply he cared for strong, deeply etched funk to offset his art. Listening to all this music in a concentrated blast, such progression is a wonder to behold.

David Bowie – Diamond Dogs (1974/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 38:33 minutes | 1,43 GB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

David Bowie fired the Spiders From Mars shortly after the release of Pin Ups, but he didn’t completely leave the Ziggy Stardust persona behind. Diamond Dogs suffers precisely because of this – he doesn’t know how to move forward. Originally conceived as a concept album based on George Orwell’s 1984, Diamond Dogs evolved into another one of Bowie’s paranoid future nightmares. Throughout the album, there are hints that he’s tired with the Ziggy formula, particularly in the disco underpinning of “Candidate” and his cut-and-paste lyrics. However, it’s not enough to make Diamond Dogs a step forward, and without Mick Ronson to lead the band, the rockers are too stiff to make an impact. Ironically, the one exception is one of Bowie’s very best songs – the tight, sexy “Rebel Rebel.” The song doesn’t have much to do with the theme, and the ones he does throw in to further the story usually fall flat. Diamond Dogs isn’t a total waste, with “1984,” “Candidate,” and “Diamond Dogs” all offering some sort of pleasure, but it is the first record since Space Oddity where Bowie’s reach exceeds his grasp.

01 – Future Legend
02 – Diamond Dogs
03 – Sweet Thing
04 – Candidate
05 – Sweet Thing
06 – Rebel Rebel
07 – Rock ‘N’ Roll With Me
08 – We Are The Dead
09 – 1984
10 – Big Brother
11 – Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family

David Bowie – David Live (1974/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 81:24 minutes | 2,63 GB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

The supporting tour for Diamond Dogs was supposed to be a theatrical extravaganza, yet as he headed out on the road, David Bowie became infatuated with Philly soul and changed his entire approach to reflect his new interest, as well as his backing band in the process. As a result, the double-album David Live captures Bowie in transition, as he moves from glam rock to plastic soul. The set list draws heavily from Ziggy Stardust-era songs, yet there are a few surprises, like a stilted cover of “Knock On Wood” and an inspired version of “All the Young Dudes,” a song Bowie gave Mott the Hoople. Since Bowie’s attempts at soul are a little awkward at this stage, David Live is primarily of interest as a historical document, yet there’s enough good material to make it worthwhile for fanatics.

01 – 1984
02 – Rebel Rebel
03 – Moonage Daydream
04 – Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing
05 – Changes
06 – Suffragette City
07 – Aladdin Sane
08 – All The Young Dudes
09 – Cracked Actor
10 – Rock ‘N’ Roll With Me
11 – Watch That Man
12 – Knock On Wood
13 – Diamond Dogs
14 – Big Brother
15 – The Width Of A Circle
16 – The Jean Genie
17 – Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide

David Bowie – The Gouster (Previously Unreleased as Album)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 40:05 minutes | 1,54 GB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

A lost album from David Bowie might seem like the holy grail of pop music. Yet here is the peculiarly named The Gouster, raised from the archives as the centre piece of a handsome new box set, Who Can I Be Now? (1974-76). The 27-year-old Bowie stares from the sleeve, draped in a newspaper and the American flag, looking unusually anxious, as if wondering what posterity might make of a collection of recordings he himself deemed unfit for release. He needn’t have worried. The Gouster turns out to be a minor joy from a major artist, a soulful stepping stone on the way to inventing a whole new genre of music.

01 – John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)
02 – Somebody Up There Likes Me
03 – It’s Gonna Be Me (Without Strings)
04 – Who Can I Be Now?
05 – Can You Hear Me
06 – Young Americans
07 – Right

David Bowie – Young Americans (1975/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 40:53 minutes | 1,53 GB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

David Bowie had dropped hints during the Diamond Dogs tour that he was moving toward R&B, but the full-blown blue-eyed soul of Young Americans came as a shock. Surrounding himself with first-rate sessionmen, Bowie comes up with a set of songs that approximate the sound of Philly soul and disco, yet remain detached from their inspirations; even at his most passionate, Bowie sounds like a commentator, as if the entire album was a genre exercise. Nevertheless, the distance doesn’t hurt the album – it gives the record its own distinctive flavor, and its plastic, robotic soul helped inform generations of synthetic British soul. What does hurt the record is a lack of strong songwriting. “Young Americans” is a masterpiece, and “Fame” has a beat funky enough that James Brown ripped it off, but only a handful of cuts (“Win,” “Fascination,” “Somebody up There Likes Me”) comes close to matching their quality. As a result, Young Americans is more enjoyable as a stylistic adventure than as a substantive record.

01 – Young Americans
02 – Win
03 – Fascination
04 – Right
05 – Somebody Up There Likes Me
06 – Across The Universe
07 – Can You Hear Me
08 – Fame

David Bowie – Station To Station (1976/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 38:25 minutes | 1,42 GB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

Taking the detached plastic soul of Young Americans to an elegant, robotic extreme, Station to Station is a transitional album that creates its own distinctive style. Abandoning any pretense of being a soulman, yet keeping rhythmic elements of soul, David Bowie positions himself as a cold, clinical crooner and explores a variety of styles. Everything from epic ballads and disco to synthesized avant pop is present on Station to Station, but what ties it together is Bowie’s cocaine-induced paranoia and detached musical persona. At its heart, Station to Station is an avant-garde art-rock album, most explicitly on “TVC 15” and the epic sprawl of the title track, but also on the cool crooning of “Wild Is the Wind” and “Word on a Wing,” as well as the disco stylings of “Golden Years.” It’s not an easy album to warm to, but its epic structure and clinical sound were an impressive, individualistic achievement, as well as a style that would prove enormously influential on post-punk.

01 – Station To Station
02 – Golden Years
03 – Word On A Wing
04 – TVC15
05 – Stay
06 – Wild Is The Wind



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