The David Bowie "Five Years" Box Set Unboxed

The David Bowie box set arrived from Warner Brothers, which distributes it in America, while I was at The Rocky Mountain Audio Festival.

A nasty head cold accompanied me home so no point yet to seriously evaluate the sound but it was definitely a good time to unbox the set and having a look. Watch ( I accidentally referred to Bowie's Mainman manager Tony DeFries as Tim DeFries. Sorry).

StonedBeatles1's picture

The so called rare gem of this box is the original single of Holy Holy that hasn't been available in any legitimate form in 44 years. I think they missed the mark, not including many rare tracks on the bonus disk entitled ReCall, with several already available previously. Not owning the vinyl set as of yet, nor the Hi Rez versions, the CD FLAC rips I currently have sound reasonably decent thus far.

conjotter's picture

I am also waiting for a good objective review before I shell out for this box, which runs about $300 where I live.

And Mikey, could you ask your contacts if the LPs in the box will be released separately in the future?'s picture

same here. Waiting on a review that details the sound vs the originals. I'm really only interested in HD and Ziggy. I'd rather spend $200 on decent 1st press vs the box unless the box can match or trump in SQ.

Grant M's picture

The dead wax from Ziggy, plus an email from Ray Staff posted over at the SH forum make it definitive that the Bowie box version is from the same plates as the 2012 anniversary version, which was AAA. I think most folks are assuming most of the Five Years box is cut from digital, and thus the "remastered in 2015" on the other albums in the set. As far as i know, no info on Aladdin Sane mastering has been confirmed, but it's not a "2015" remaster according to the Bowie site.

Michael Fremer's picture
Is really foolish. Either we know or we don't. If we don't, it's best off not making any assumptions! I haven't yet had time to compare inner groove areas but will ASAP. In the meantime I really think it would be most helpful in these box set reissues to divulge cutting sources UPFRONT lest people draw incorrect assumptions!
Grant M's picture

Also have a close look at the jackets. It was posted at the SH forum that TMWSTW says "digital remaster 2015" printed on the back. The strange thing is that Ziggy also has this printed on the jacket, even though according to even the makers of the set the Ziggy wasn't a 2015 remaster, and the wax shows it's the 2012 cut. So what we have is conflicting evidence. Perhaps the "digital remaster" printing on the jackets is cut and paste artwork from the cd set, or the Ziggy jacket is wrong. Who knows. For darn sure, it shouldn't be this hard to figure this stuff out!!!!

hyman the david's picture

this is my favorite video yet!

thomoz's picture

I laughed until I cried in 2-3 places, the beginning before the unboxing was absolutely precious.

larson manor's picture

Thank you Michael for taking time out and posting the video, especially when you were sick. As vinyl collectors & analog junkies we really appreciate the effort you make. Very enjoyable with all your memories & experiences. I'm a big Bowie fan since the seventies and have a great collection on vinyl, but to shell out that kind of money for possible digital source pressings, no, I'll wait.

Analog Aecad's picture


john75's picture

Thanks for the great video. Looking forward to the review of the records, especially Hunky Dory. My favorite record from this period. I hope you'll compare it with the EMI 100 version so I can choose hunting down that one or buying this box. It will cost about the same :)

VirginVinyl's picture

Thanks Michael, looking forward to your review on the box set. I also want to ask you that I have some Ryko Sound+Vision titles and I'm puzzled by the marking of AAA and ADA at the back of the Jacket of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy... and ChangesBowie. I have nothing to compare them to. Your thoughts, cause if they are better copies out there I want to know.

Michael Fremer's picture
Simply means the digitized the master tape and then used it to cut lacquers so Analog tape to digital and then lacquer. Lacquer is the final "A"
PeterPani's picture

in 1 out of 100 cases conflicting indications are made on purpose to give the illusion that the record might be AAA. It is always like this: if a company made the effort to do it AAA then they will tell you that in big letters, because that is a definitve selling argument. But if a company has a digital step somewhere then they won't tell you and try to make it confused, hoping that we will buy without further asking. So, you can positively assume that the records are all ADA. If nobody tells me that the cutting head was an analog one, I will not change my mind.

warpig's picture

I purchased it and look forward to the review. Looking at most of these records used they go for a nice price. I would not mind paying that price if without a doubt it would be in the mint condition like these should be. I have a Ziggy Stardust to compare it with but that's it. Need to clean them before I sit down and listen. As stated I really don't care where they came from as long as they sound good. I will give up a little bit of that good for nice clean vinyl at a decent price. I paid 203 US shipped to the house. Lets see that's about 2 to 2.5 NM copies of the UK pressing. Lets face it kiddies this is going to be the normal more than likely in thew future. I am just crossing my fingers on the sound.

As always my 2 cents.

Also Michael I am getting over a cold. Hope you are doing better. Seems like the older you get the more the cold kicks ur butt. I hate taking stuff for a cold but again the older I get it seems like a good idea. Bought this XL-3 stuff and it really helped. Took it for 2 days only.

Good Luck

alexdias's picture

CC Music has it for $199 and if you look you can find a 10% discount coupon

Billf's picture


junker's picture

Great time capsule David! And thanks for the walkthrough even though you are feeling under the weather. Glad you were to able to get a copy to review! Hope you feel better soon and looking forward to your listening impressions. You're the best at this stuff!


Toptip's picture

Michael, in the video you mention "Close Encounters" (presumably "of the Third Kind"). Is there a connection to Bowie? The Man who fell on Earth also comes to mind...

During the past eight years I had many opportunities to sit and chat with Bowie at parent meetings and basketball competitions at our school. I can attest that he is as mild, quiet and "normal" as you say. I remember him singing along as music teachers played what they were teaching our kids, on the guitar. Made up for me for being too young for the Ziggy Stardust tours!

24Bit Blues's picture

Just watched the box opening and will be interested on what you think when you get round to listening to the LPs?
I'had mine since release day and like them all except for the live Santa Monica .
It's IMO a waiste of nice vinyl.
It's the filler in the set.

Goochified1's picture

You mentioned in the video that it's a great pressing. I bought that one and I thought it sounded very brittle in the high end. Looked very closely at the small type on the back cover and it said "digitally remastered." I took it back and ended up getting the Rykodisc CDQ clear vinyl and thought it sounded a slight bit mushy but it didn't have the tinny cymbals, etc. that the EMI 100 pressing did. Wish I could afford this box!

Grant M's picture

Seems odd that the jacket would have printed "digital remaster" when the sticker on the front says cut from analog tape.

hi-fivinyljunkie's picture

No mention of digital anywhere on this. That sounds like the Simply Vinyl.

Michael Fremer's picture
Well either the sticker is wrong or the jacket is wrong. I vote for the jacket because often the CD artwork ends up being used for the LP and credits aren't changed....but you never know!
24Bit Blues's picture

Sorry to go off topic but was wondering if you have had one of the new Bob Marley vinyl box sets yet to play with?

Michael Fremer's picture
But that one is certainly 96/24...
hi-fivinyljunkie's picture

My guess is the wrong LP in the Millennium stickered plastic wallet. I have the correct EMI reissue and it is a repro of the original sleeve but with a barcode. No digital credits. Analogue cutting from analogue tapes.

Michael Fremer's picture
No digital credit on my EMI 100 either!
Rich's picture

Ill be dead of old age by the time you get to review this...

DubBoU's picture

No matter how the disks are mastered I bought the box because I did not have Bowie's old records on vinyl. I am serious about sounding but not an audiophile by any standard. I just completed listening to the first 2 disks and I am very impressed. The book and the inner sleeves that came along shows that the company is serious about this release. It is not cheap, but to me it justifies the price - I am not from the record company or a records seller by the way.

Michael, Hope you are OK now. I am still checking your site every day for your review of this box.

walterso2k's picture

Beautiful stories and great video, please do a video of your Bowie memorabilia and treasures(best part of the video was the introduction, I can share the excitement when talking about the Duke).
Looking forward for the review. I hope it sounds as good as The Next Day... Greetings from Costa Rica!

Mazzy's picture

I saw Bowie on that Ziggy Tour in 72 at Winterland in San Francisco. Had just bought the Ziggy LP. The show was great however only 500 people showed up and Winterland held 5500. I read he never wanted to return to SF again however we all know he did.

Got the new box and it sounds really great. My biggest surprise what how rocking PinUps sounds. I have a whole new appreciation for that LP and have played it about 6 times so far. A really great covers album.

DDManace's picture

Great video:) I thoroughly enjoyed. Looking forward for the review.

audiotom's picture

I bought the onexpensive cd version of this set

I really dont like them padding all the studio albums with two versions of ziggy, two ziggy live albums, a rareties disc that is alt versions of singles when their are so many great songs that didn't make the albums

I originally had the flat sounding US first or second pressings and all Japanese pressings thru Scary Monsters
Started buying UK first pressings - huge difference. So vibrant

Really interested in your findings Michael

cdiscover's picture

Hi Michael,
have you already been able to compare the David Bowie Box set vinyl to the EMI 100 pressings? Or have you already listened to the vinyls of the box set? Would be great to get some information about the sound quality.


atomlow's picture

I bought the Honky Dory 2016 reissue and compared it to my RCA black label and the RCA blows it away. I'm curious about your thoughts about this box after listening to it?

atomlow's picture

I see you reviewed the box. My first search didn't pull it up.