David Bowie (Deluxe Edition)
Hardcore Bowie-philes will be overjoyed to hear the mono and stereo versions of the Dame’s 1967 debut album, here packaged with contemporaneous singles and unreleased goodies.
The rest of us, if we’re interested at all, may only register its existence if we happen upon an old copy of Mojo magazine at the dentist’s in a few months’ time and then only because the review will contain a sarcastic mention of The Laughing Gnome. It’s the hardcore who’ll be laughing, though, as this oh-yeah-another-desperate-cash-in release contains many a golden moment and more than a couple of genuinely beautiful tracks; There Is A Happy Land, for instance, with its deceptively easy-listening accompaniment to Bowie as a heart-rending gatekeeper, standing between children and adulthood (‘Mother calls and we don’t hear / there’s lots more things to do. . .’). When I’m Five occupies a similar space, wherein he sings of going to school and marrying his Mum (little kids say things like that in all their innocence - these days such a song would probably have the singer on the sex offenders register).
In these days of X-Factory clones and I-love-you, you-love-me, look-at-my-tits lyrical tedium, it takes a 30 year-old album written and arranged by a nineteen year-old with the help of the Observer Book of Music to remind us of the true artistry, graft and craft of song writing and the genuinely uplifting beauty it creates. And it’s possibly the only album to list amongst its influences both Anthony Newley and Pink Floyd. Discarding it as a Vaudevillian aberration would be a tragedy.