Unboxing David Bowie's "Who Can I Be Now?" Box Set

The second David Bowie box set covers but two years—1974-1976—but for David Bowie that timespan leaped across a few musical universes.

Bowie had shed Ziggy and for an album became a lad insane. This box starts with Diamond Dogs, works its way through Bowie's Philly fascination, with Young Americans and two live records from The Tower Theater, (2005 mixes on three LPs plus on another LP an entire show as recorded with no correcting overdubs), adds a never before released album called The Gouster and well as a double LP set from the Nassue County Coliseum in 1976 and concludes with the original Station to Station mix and the 2010 mix. There's also a compilation Re:Call 2 that consists of singles, mostly just edited, not re-mixed.

The box is nicely produced, with a duplicate of the original Young Americans textured paper and a few other touches that will be covered in the review.

How does it sound? I'll soon find out. If you have the box, please post a comment.

Michel Vondenhoff's picture

Nice box.

David Bowie is something special.

Got my first lp box last week (Kate Bush Before The Dawn).


thomoz's picture

The Maslin Mix of Station To Station is actually the first version of the album.

Bowie said in contemporary interviews (reprinted in 'The Illustrated Record' that they had mixed the album "dry" and at the last minute he chickened out and remixed it, adding echo.

There are more differences than ambience between the two mixes. for me, this is the best disc in the new box.

A similar situation exists with The Gouster, it's simply the early version of 'Young Americans'. Some additional sessions took place later, changing the tone of the album away from hardcore r&b and closer to pop, and because of the added length "John I'm Only Dancing" was orphaned and ended up on a single.

Michael Fremer's picture
Did the remix too. I spoke with him when the S2S box came out and I wrote about it in Stereophile: Hi Michael, I just wanted to let you know I appreciated the Stereophile article. For future refference regarding the credits, I produced the album with David AND I was the engineer. Stereophile has me as "engineer" only. Believe me, it's no biggie after all these years but I thought you should know somebody's paying attention ;) Thanks again...Nice to meet you and see you on FB too :) Best, Harry MF again: Also details here: http://www.davidbowiestationtostation.com
azmoon's picture

.. is the venue correct? I wasn't at that 1972 show but I saw Elton John there in September of 1972 and it was a fantastic show. Also saw Neil Young and a few other shows there in the 70's.

Michael Fremer's picture
Definitely correct. The billboard piece behind me is the evidence plus I was there!
Chemguy's picture

Well done, Mr. Fremer.

TVC-"One Five"...ahem...

Tombby's picture

IMO, Bowie' singles were all terribly edited. Sometimes missing solos or sometimes it just fades in the middle of a song. Yet I would still buy the singles because, on an average they sound better than the LP counterparts because of the 45rpm format. But when these singles are placed on an LP (33rpm) the superior sound vanishes.

If these box sets are giving us a 'singles' album, I wish it would be at 45rpm.

isaacrivera's picture

Though, in theory, 45rpm should yield higher resolution, I have 33rpm records that sound much better than same at 45rpm. For instance, Joe Henderson's Page One 33 by Music Matters is way superior than Analog Production's 45 edition. Both are AAA editions, but the 33 is more extended, spacious and has weightier and more controlled bass. Neither appears to have an edge over the other in resolution. A 45 single has its own challenges too, like higher distortion for most tonearm curves. You could adjust your tonearm for lower distortion at smaller radius, but then you would have overall higher distortion elsewhere. Page One proves that mastering is more important than rpms. So we can't assume that 45 are inherently better. A review of the actual sound of the edition is necessary.

Tombby's picture

I agree there are no absolutes with vinyl, but generally I prefer the airy sound richer bass of 45's.

Michael Fremer's picture
Both were cut by Kevin Gray from the same tape but at a different time.By the time the 33 1/3 version was cut, Gray had completely rebuilt the electronics in his cutting system and that's why the 33 slams the 45. You'd have to compare two cuts done at the same time to do a fair 33/45 comparison.
isaacrivera's picture

That unless mastering, cutting etc is same, it is not possible to assert 45 will sound better than 33. Only listening will tell you that. All things being equal, the 45 should sound better. But there is a good chance this box's 33 singles will sound better than original 45 singles. Maybe. Only listening can tell.

Joe Crowe's picture

Agree. The latin term is ceteris parabus but that is too rarely the case.

Martin's picture

Which is what really interests me :-)
Having, like I am guessing everyone else reading this, all the originals.

Kirby's picture

Looks like a really well done box, hope they put as much work into the sonics. It seems to me that the real gems are the extras and for me I would love to have the "David Live" unedited version as that's one of my all time fav Bowies. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the sound of this box set, it may sway me to buy it.
On a similar thought have you heard the latest Ian Hunter album "Fingers Crossed" with it's amazing tribute to Bowie "Dandy" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqA5aDBk2Zc The weaving of Bowies lyrics with his own is very good and heart felt,"Something is happening-Mr Jones,My Brother Says Your Better Than The Beatles and The Stones" With the last line "I Guess I Owe You One,So Thanks For The Memories" Ya Id say so,if not for Young Dudes Hunter may have gone back to carpentry,what a loss that would have been.

billstry's picture

All I want for the holidays is Micheal's review of the box set and maybe a review of the new Kinks box. Merry Merry to all.

krakendeep's picture

I've heard that the LP box DOES NOT come with any digital content or download codes. Is that true?

hellfried's picture

Just got a few individual albums from this boxset. Does anyone feel that Rebel Rebel on Diamond Dogs is a bit muffled compared to the rest of the record?

redoxin's picture

I just got into listening to Bowie. Hunky Dory and Ziggy are brilliant records and I saw this box set at a good price. Still thinking if I should get it or aim for individual records. Has Michael reviewed it somewhere?
Still on the fence since I read some bad things about the other Bowie box sets.