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Pop - Released November 14, 2014 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
Nothing Has Changed is a bit of a cheeky title for a career retrospective from an artist who is known as a chameleon, and this triple-disc compilation has other tricks up its sleeve. Chief among these is sequencing the SuperDeluxe 59-track set in reverse chronological order, so it opens with the brand-new, jazz-inflected "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)" and concludes with David Bowie's debut single, "Liza Jane." On paper, this seems a bit like a stunt, but in actuality it's a sly way to revisit and recontextualize a career that has been compiled many, many times before. Previously, there have been single discs, double discs, and triple-disc boxes, but the largest of these was Sound + Vision, a box released in 1989, and the most recent was 2002's The Best of Bowie, which featured slightly different track listings in different territories but generally stopped in the late '90s. The two-CD version of Nothing Has Changed resembles this 2002 set -- there are absences, notably "John, I'm Only Dancing," "Diamond Dogs," and "TVC15," but they're not noticed among the parade of standards -- but it's easily overshadowed by the triple-disc SuperDeluxe set. This version of Nothing Has Changed touches upon nearly every phrase of Bowie's career, bypassing Tin Machine but finding space for early pre-"Space Oddity" singles that often don't make Bowie's comps, and naturally it samples from his fine Y2K records, plus his 2013 comeback The Next Day. This expansiveness alone would be noteworthy, but when it's combined with the reverse sequencing the compilation forces listeners to reconsider an artist whose legacy seemed so set in stone it appropriately was enshrined in museums. Obvious high-water marks are undersold -- there's not as much Ziggy as usual, nor as much Berlin -- so other eras can also enter the canon, whether it's the assured maturity of the new millennium or the appealing juvenilia of the '60s. The end result is something unexpected: a compilation that makes us hear an artist we know well in a whole new way. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released November 11, 2016 | Rhino

Not the first posthumous compilation from David Bowie -- that would be the lavish box Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976), which was planned prior to his January 10, 2016 death -- Legacy is nevertheless the first designed with his, well, legacy in mind. That much can be gleaned from the title of the compilation, but that's a bit of a feint since this set essentially repackages the simplest incarnation of a previous Bowie hits compilation, 2014's Nothing Has Changed. Legacy is available as a single and a double-disc, both carrying sequencings that mirror those on Nothing Has Changed (and both featuring a new mix of "Life on Mars?"). On the single disc, the first 12 songs are the same, then the back sequence is different, discarding "Absolute Beginners" and "Hallo Spaceboy" and concluding with "Where Are We Now?" and "Lazarus." Similarly, the double-disc has a nearly identical sequencing on its first disc -- "Ashes to Ashes" and "Fashion" are swapped -- with the differences arriving in the comp's final six songs, so Heathen's "Everyone Says Hi" is here, and this concludes with "Lazarus" and "I Can't Give Everything Away." In both cases, the Legacy sequencing is slightly better than that on Nothing Has Changed, since it winds up ending on the elegiac note that Bowie gave Blackstar. Still, it's splitting hairs: the 2016 and 2014 compilations are similar to each other, and they're also similar to the many Bowie comps that came before, and they're all just as likely to satisfy and pique interest. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released February 15, 2019 | Parlophone UK

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Pop - Released October 4, 1999 | Parlophone UK

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Pop - Released November 1, 2015 | Parlophone UK

1. Outside bears the subtitle "The Diary of Nathan Adler or The Art-Ritual Murder of Baby Grace Blue. A Non-Linear Gothic Drama Hyper-Cycle." Alright, so it reeks of pretension. One belabors the point because Bowie at his best has always been pretentious, risque, creatively (if sometimes contrivedly) over the top. 1. Outside marks the first in a planned series of collaborations with multi-instrumentalist, producer, and conceptualist Brian Eno based on a Bowie short story. In this end-of-millennium setting, "art-crimes" and "concept muggings" merit their own police division funded by the "Arts Protectorate of London." Echoes of the Berlin "outsider" Bowie/Eno '70s trilogy of Low, Heroes, and Lodger reverberate throughout, including a return to the "cut-and-paste" lyric-assembly method then employed, only this time fed through a Mac rather than more labor-intensive paper-and-scissors tools. The thusly fragmented "narrative" follows the investigations of Detective Professor Adler into the murder and subsequent dismembered body parts exhibition of 14-year-old runaway Baby Grace Blue. In this cut-up, composite world, each character, including Adler, Baby Grace, mixed-race youth Leon Blank, septuagenarian Algeria Touchshriek, and art-terrorist Ramona A. Stone, reflects a different aspect of Bowie himself and is therefore a component of all the previous personas Bowie has enacted over the years. The music also randomly dices and displays many of the previous album settings such personas have populated. To complete the cube, Bowie then draws on musicians that form a kind of anagram band from his past. The closest "Ziggy" link comes courtesy of pianist Mike Garson, whose icy, tinkling jazz runs evoke many a spine-tingly moment from Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs. Besides Garson and Eno, other names familiar to those who follow the Bowie canon include guitarists Carlos Alomar (Station to Station through Scary Monsters) and Reeves Grabels (Tin Machine), and '90s collaborators such as drummer Sterling Campbell (Black Tie White Noise) and multi-instrumentalist Erdal Kizilcay (Buddha). Diamond Dogs, inspired by George Orwell's 1984, is another obvious precursor to 1. Outside's dissection of a post-apocalyptic, technological society in the name of Art. Bowie inflicts "in-character" spoken word segments as between-song segues, several of which evoke the Cockney campiness of such '60s period pieces as "Please Mr. Gravedigger" and "The Laughing Gnome" -- humor (intentional or not) that softens an otherwise bleak landscape. So, should you actually care about this dense, dark, difficult story and its generally unsympathetic characters? The effort required to adequately "process" 1. Outside pays off in a richly voyeuristic experience where Bowie once again reflects fringe culture onto the mainstream and forces us to consider that the differences are not so great. ~ Roch Parisien
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Rock - Released February 15, 2019 | Parlophone UK

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Rock - Released September 4, 2006 | Parlophone UK

In 1989, not all major artists had their catalog available on CD, and one of the most notable absences was David Bowie. When the format was in its infancy, RCA had issued several of his classics, but those pressings were notoriously awful and were pulled from the market in 1985 when Bowie acquired the rights to the recordings. Sharp businessman that he is, he took the catalog to market, and after an intense bidding war, he chose to reissue his classic work through Rykodisc, an independent CD-only label that had earned acclaim for its work with Frank Zappa's catalog. Instead of dumping all the discs on the market at once, the titles were slowly rolled out, beginning with a series-encompassing Sound + Vision, a three-CD/one-CD-ROM box set released to great fanfare in the fall of 1989. At the time, box sets were all the rage, following the template of Bob Dylan's Biograph -- an exhaustive career overview that offered all the basics, peppered with some revealing rarities. Upon its release, Sound + Vision was reviewed as if it belonged to this tradition, when it really inverted the formula, offering a series, not career, overview by showcasing alternate versions and rarities, along with album tracks, with a few familiar hits tossed in here and there to provide context. This was a tantalizing way to begin a reissue campaign, and it did receive gushing reviews -- the CD-era publication Rock & Roll Disc breathlessly claimed "Suffice to say that the sound quality will give your ears an orgasm" -- but once the reissue series completed and once Ryko lost the rights to the catalog, Sound + Vision looked more like a curiosity, an artifact of its time, than a major statement. Much of the problem stems from its design -- it was intended to show off the sound quality, which was a marked improvement over the RCA discs, and to show the depth and breadth of rarities within the vaults. It was not a career-capper; it was a teaser. It was enticing upon its release, and some of it remains so. There's a clutch of early rarities that lead off the set -- the original demo of "Space Oddity," alternate single versions of "The Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud" and "The Prettiest Star" -- that are quite good, alternate takes on "John I'm Only Dancing" and "Rebel Rebel" that manage to be notably different without changing the feel, excellent outtakes from Diamond Dogs (a medley of "1984/Dodo"), Station to Station (a glittery, lush cover of Springsteen's "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City"), and Young Americans (the superb "After Today," a disco-rock song that should have been on the album and is hands down the best rarity here). These suggested the great unearthed treasures that lay ahead, and they remain necessary additions to any serious Bowie collection, particularly because they never showed up on another disc. If they were placed in a better forum, they would function like the rarities on either Biograph or Eric Clapton's Crossroads -- rarities that helped fill in the details of an artist's story -- but since they're in a set that's intended to showcase what the Ryko series would do, not what Bowie had done, they're the main attraction instead of feeding into the greater narrative. And that narrative, while certainly capturing the sometimes bewildering twists and turns in Bowie's career, is an alternate-universe narrative, lacking defining songs, from "Starman" to "Golden Years," and presenting many familiar songs in odd, not particularly interesting variations (a live 1974 version of "Suffragette City," a German version of "Heroes," presented in a 1989 remix). Though it succeeds in conveying Bowie's ever-changing moods, it lacks the substance and sense of a great box set, which this surely could have been. Instead, it's an interesting artifact of the early days of CDs, right down to its overly elaborate packaging, and only those who want to relive that time, or need those rarities, will need this in their collection. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released September 29, 2017 | Parlophone UK

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Pop - Released January 30, 1997 | Parlophone UK

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Pop - Released February 15, 2019 | Parlophone UK

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Originally released as part of the comprehensive 2018 box set Loving the Alien, Serious Moonlight (Live '83) is an audio release of the 1984 home video release Serious Moonlight, which itself aired earlier on the cable network HBO. In any incarnation, Serious Moonlight captures Bowie at the peak of his coolly calculated superstardom, streamlining his eccentricities so they are slick yet still a bit strange. It ain't rock & roll, it's entertainment, but that's also the charm of the record: it's big and glitzy, with Bowie acting justifiably proud of his grandiose moves but also performing with a sly, knowing wink. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released February 23, 2018 | Parlophone UK

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Pop - Released October 3, 2016 | Parlophone UK

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Rock - Released September 29, 2017 | Parlophone UK

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Rock - Released February 15, 2019 | Parlophone UK

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