Bowie’s box-set worth the dough

By Emmett Overbey

We all have expenses. We have to pay rent. We have to buy food. We have bills. Sometimes, though, we must shirk our financial responsibilities, risking starvation and/or eviction to fulfill a momentary whim. What am I talking about? Take a trip to one of DeKalb’s fine record stores this week and you’ll see.

On September 25, “Sound+Vision” went on sale. It’s big, it’s expensive, and it’s worth eating nothing but Beenie Weenie for a month.

What is it? Well, remember David Bowie? His last few albums were mediocre and his last tour was pretty disappointing. For the most part, this year’s “Tin Machine” is Bowie’s only truly worthwhile work since “Scary Monsters” came out in 1980. His early albums have been, to say the least, hard to find, particularly on CD.

Hyko, the company that handled the CD release of old material from both Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, is going to re-release all sixteen of Bowie’s early albums. The first couple will be available in early 1990, and the rest will come along chronologically. Sure, it’ll be a long wait, but this is some really groovy stuff.

So, anyway, back to “Sound+Vision.” It’s sort of a commemoration of the upcoming re-releases. It’s a career-spanning box-set, containing either three compact discs, three cassettes, or six lp’s. The CD version contains a special CD-Video disc, with the audio tracks to “John, I’m Only Dancing,” “Changes,” and “The Supermen.” For those of you fortunate to have a CD-Video player, the disc also contains the video to “Ashes to Ashes.”

The first track is Bowie’s original 1969 demo of “Space Oddity.” From there, the set presents songs from every stage of Bowie’s career, following the order in which the albums were released. A lot of the songs are taken right from the original albums, but there are a bunch of B-sides, rehearsal tracks, live cuts, and out-takes. Highlights? A rare single version of “Rebel Rebel,” a German version of “Heroes,” and a great cover of Springsteen’s “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City.”

Sleek-looking packaging (designed in part by Bowie himself) makes this box-set a sure-fire “collector’s item.” A thick booklet is included which contains a bunch of old photographs (remember Bowie’s perm?) as well as a text of commentary from that eloquent MTV news guy, Kurt Loder.

Sure, it’s a major purchase, but this is the only Bowie stuff you’re going to be seeing for quite a while. Buy generic food if you have to. Save your pennies. Recycle your aluminum cans. Just don’t pass this one up.