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Album Review: David Bowie – Sound + Vision (4 CD Box Set)

3 min read

Cutting edge musician, fashion guru and all round icon David Bowie, has just released Sound + Vision, a four CD box set that dips into the archives to showcase his remarkable career. A compilation of 70 tracks, including Bowie’s biggest hits, rarest demos and B-sides, and a strong selection of live recordings, the album spans the quarter of a decade long period between 1969 to 1994, in which Bowie found immense success and had a lasting impact.

David Bowie Sound And VisionCD One explores the first four years of Bowie’s career following the success of his first commercial breakthrough, Space Oddity, in 1969. Mostly composed of a selection of tracks from albums The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane and the 1973 record Pinups, this compilation also contains an original demo of Space Oddity and a rare B-side version of The Wide Eyed Boy From Freecloud. These tracks become raw, acoustic snapshots of the young Bowie and give a charming look back in history at the man before he became the iconic star he is today. The alternatives vocal take of the 1971 song, Round and Round, has Bowie sounding crisp and clear, but also very young and lively. Near the end of this first CD, are three live recordings taken from Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture – the highly energetic and percussive Ziggy Stardust, a cover of The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat, which Bowie amps up to make very much his own, and his emotional performance of Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide.

CD Two takes a step away from the raw, acoustic deliveries on the previous album, kicking off with a powerful performance of 1984/Dodo. This second CD sees Bowie coming into his element and is comprised of hit after hit, with a rare single version of Rebel Rebel and live versions of Suffragette City, Watch That Man and Cracked Actor off his first official live album released in 1974. One of the most interesting tracks on this album is “Helden”, a 1989 remix of Heroes, which Bowie performs in German. Being one of Bowie’s most famous tracks, hearing the lyrics in sung in German is unusual because it forms a strange dynamic in which the song is instantaneously recognisable, but also vastly different to the English original. The album wraps up in 1977, with Joe The Lion and Sons Of The Silent Age, both off his record Heroes.

The box set continues with its chronological exhibition of David Bowie’s career across the final two CDs, in total spanning 25 years and sampling music from over 21 albums – from Space Oddity to the soundtrack album, The Buddha of Suburbia, which accompanied the 1993 drama series of the same name. While this box set is really just a mature take on your regular ‘best of’ compilation, it is certainly worthwhile listening for people looking for a thorough introduction to the phenomenal artist and his extensive career. In addition, this collection of music would no doubt appeal to diehard fans as it offers an intriguing dip into Bowie’s archives, with remastered demo tracks, rare B-sides and live recordings. With almost five hours of hits, demos, live tracks and remixes, the Sound + Vision box set pays a hard earned tribute to the iconic artist and is definitely worth a listen for both loyal fans and first time listeners.