Thursday, 6 May 2021

The World of David Bowie

I've just finished reading Daryl Easlea's lead feature on David Bowie's 1970's masterpiece The Man Who Sold The World in the May 2021 issue of Record Collector. The circumstances that led to the recording of the album and the inherent mythology that surrounds it - the album's proto-heavy metal licks, the arrival of Mick Ronson, the eerie sci-fi Moog textures, the dress and cowboy covers, the influence of Terry Burns, have all been documented elsewhere in forensic detail, but Easlea's article is superb nonetheless at capturing what was an incredibly exciting time in Bowie's life and music. Seemingly a world away from the songs Bowie had written for the album is the Decca compilation The World of David Bowie which is included in a sidebar of the article - the connection being that the Decca album was the only Bowie record issued in the UK in 1970 - The Man Who Sold the World was still 11 months away, finally arriving in April 1971. Interestingly, Decca's World of... series was more than a vault-emptying exercise, the label's intention was to give curious listeners an affordable introduction to an artist, and the series, if the Discogs listing can be trusted, lasted well in to the 80's. Bowie was pleased that he was joining the likes of Mantovani and Val Doonican on the World of... series, and Bowie himself selected the songs for the album - 10 tracks from his 1967 debut David Bowie plus a few essential odds and sods - The London Boys, Karma Man, Let Me Sleep Beside You and In the Heat of the Morning.
The World of David Bowie - left 1970 edition, right, 1973 editionI'm pleased to be reminded of the album again, which served as my introduction to Bowie's pre-RCA years. It was soon supplanted by more comprehensive compilations such the 1972 double-album Images 1966 - 1967 and the 1981 compilation Another Face, which included two Davie Jones numbers Liza Jane and Louie, Louie Go Home but I remain very fond of the World of David Bowie nonetheless. My copy of the album is not the original 1970 edition but 1973 re-press which updated Bowie's 1969 curls to a very 1972-era Ziggy mullet for the sleeve shot, and I'm currently listening to the album, after a fashion, courtesy of the Deram Anthology 1966-1968 CD, programmed to follow The World of David Bowie track listing. Incidentally, the 1973 Dutch re-press which also features the Ziggy cover subtly replaces the fabulous When I Live My Dream with the not so fabulous Laughing Gnome !

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