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David Bowie’s Toy-Era Track “Karma Man” Receives First-Ever Commercial Release: Stream

Also hear an alternate version of "Silly Boy Blue"

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David Bowie
David Bowie, photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Image

    On November 26th, David Bowie’s fabled 2001 album, Toy, will received its first-ever commercial release as part of an upcoming archival box set called Brilliant Adventure (1992 – 2001). Then on January 7th, it’ll received a standalone release as a multi-disc set titled, TOY:BOX.  In anticipation, the Toy track “Karma Man” has been released alongside an alternate version of “Silly Boy Blue.” Listen to both recordings below.

    Toy was recorded in the aftermath of Bowie’s 2000 performance at Glastonbury, as the Thin White Duke sought to reimagine some of his earliest recordings with a live backing band, and then release it in a surprise manner. But after EMI/Virgin put the kibosh on those plans, Bowie lost interest in the project, moved to Columbia Records, and recorded the album Heathen. Several tracks from Toy appeared on Heathen or released as B-sides, and the album eventually leaked online in 2011, but this marks the first time the full album is receiving a commercial release.

    “Karma Man” was initially recorded by Bowie in September 1967 and debuted on John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show in the Spring of 1968, but it was not officially released until 1970 on The World Of David Bowie. Meanwhile, “Silly Boy Blue” originally appeared on Bowie’s 1967 self-titled debut album.

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    In a statement, Toy co-producer Mark Plati said, “‘Karma Man’ is notable for Cuong Vu’s opening and closing lines, and especially the glorious backing vocals from Holly Palmer, Emm Gryner, and Lisa Germano – they had so much to do with the sound of Toy, and this is a prime example. When I re-listened to these tracks, the sound of fall 2000 came flooding out of the speakers, from a song I’d not heard since then. I’m not too proud to say I shed a bit of a tear, something that happened a few times while mixing it.”

    Pre-orders for both Brilliant Adventure (1992 – 2001) and TOY:BOX are now ongoing.

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