Toying with our ears
1 October 2021-
It was announced this week that a long lost David Bowie album would finally be released: the album is Toy and the story behind it is particularly interesting...
Much like Prince or Paul McCartney, whose incredible prolificness meant that they would occasionally hand away material to other musicians as they simply couldn’t release it all themselves — or thought it was not on par with their usual output — David Bowie did almost as much behind the scenes as he did in the spotlight. We famously know about his song “All the Young Dudes“, which became Mott the Hoople’s biggest hit. We also know about his incredible collaboration with Iggy Pop, which produced some of the artist’s — and music’s at large — greatest works. But there’s a project we heard less about although it may be even more intriguing…
In 2000, on the heels of a seminal performance at that year’s Glastonbury, the musician felt inspired to immediately go back to the studio. Interestingly, what he chose to focus on was not entirely new though: granted, the band was working on a few new tracks, but they happened to be intertwined with reworking’s of Bowie’s earliest songs. Released way back when, before Bowie even called himself Bowie. That’s right: among the songs included in the set, entitled Toy, were “Liza Jane”, Bowie’s first ever single, which got released back in 1864 under the name Davie Jones with the King Bees. Same goes for “You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving”, his third single released the following year, this time under the name Davy Jones [note the subtle spelling change] and The Lower Third.
While that mix of old and new sound exciting to many aficionados, it somehow didn’t convince Bowie’s then-record label, EMI / Virgin. Instead of starting work on promotion and distribution, the company shelved it in favor other projects they considered “hotter”. Which resulted in a) Bowie leaving EMI to launch new album Heathen in 2002 with Columbia Records ; b) Toy remaining shelved for the foreseeable future. A version of the album did leak in 2011, but it reportedly did not feature the originally intended track listing and was never officially released.
A few days ago, David Bowie’s new musical home Warner Music Group announced that an official version of the LP would hit the (largely virtual) shelves. Finally putting an end to the various conjectures and theories surrounding an eminently historical project. The wait is almost over: the date is November 26th.