The spirit of David Bowie lives on in the form of a new box set. Similar to last year’s award-winning David Bowie – Five Years (1969 – 1973), Parlophone has put together a proper follow-up with David Bowie – Who Can I Be Now? (1974 – 1976).
Though details are being held until next week, Bowie’s Facebook confirmed that among the many goodies is the previously unreleased album, The Gouster. Recorded amid his “plastic soul”-era in 1974, Bowie embraced elements of funk, R&B, and soul music while working in the studio.
The result was a seven-track effort that began with a re-recorded version of “John, I’m Only Dancing” and also included tracks such as “Young Americans”, “Somebody Up There Likes Me”, and “Can You Hear Me?”. While The Gouster never saw release, several albums tracks were reconfigured and released on 1975’s Young Americans.
Along with the announcement came an excerpt of producer Tony Visconti’s liner notes, which will all be compiled into a book as part of the set. It’s a rather lengthy chunk, but pretty informative on the unreleased LP, so take a gander:
“Gouster was a word unfamiliar to me but David knew it as a type of dress code worn by African American teens in the ‘60’s, in Chicago. But in the context of the album its meaning was attitude, an attitude of pride and hipness. Of all the songs we cut we were enamored of the ones we chose for the album that portrayed this attitude.
David had a long infatuation with soul as did I. We were fans of the TV show Soul Train. We weren’t ‘young, gifted and black’ but we sure as hell wanted to make a killer soul album, which was quite insane, but pioneers like the Righteous Brothers were there before us.
So ‘The Gouster’ began with the outrageous brand new, funkafied version of David’s classic ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’, a single he wrote and recorded in 1972, only this time our version sounded like it was played live in a loft party in Harlem and he added (Again) to the title. It wasn’t the two and a half minute length of the original either.
We maxed out at virtually seven minutes! With the time limitations of vinyl (big volume drop with more than 18 minutes a side) we could only fit two other long songs on side one, ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ and ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ both about six and a half minute songs. We had hit the twenty-minute mark. Technically that worked because ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ had lots of quiet sections where the record groove could be safely made narrower and that would preserve the apparent loudness of side one.
Side two also hit the twenty-minute mark with ‘Can You Hear Me’ saving the day with its quiet passages. Forty minutes of glorious funk, that’s what it was and that’s how I thought it would be.”
As of now, there’s no release date yet but we’ll no doubt receive one when the official announcement surfaces next week. In the meantime, we re-created The Gouster ourselves on Spotify using the shared tracklist. Enjoy…