David Bowie: Boxing up the legacy

Friday November 26, 2021, Parlophone Records/ISO Records will be releasing David Bowie 5. Brilliant Adventure (1992 – 2001), the fifth in a series of fully remastered box sets.
Brilliant Adventures Album Cover

Friday November 26, 2021, Parlophone Records/ISO Records will be releasing David Bowie 5. Brilliant Adventure (1992 – 2001), the fifth in a series of fully remastered box sets spanning 40 years in the career of one of the most remarkable and charismatic artists ever to strut a stage.

Already released…

David Bowie 1. Five Years (1969 – 1973), David Bowie 2. Who Can I Be Now? (1974 – 1976), David Bowie 3. A New Career in a New Town (1977 – 1982) and David Bowie 4. Loving the Alien (1983-1988). The box sets include newly remastered versions, with input from the original producers and collaborators.

Of course, since these box sets begin in 1969, the original versions of Bowie’s nine singles and one self-titled album released between 1964 and 1967 variously as Davy Jones with the King Bees, The Manish Boys and Davy Jones/David Bowie and the Lower Third remain to be corralled, remastered and boxed up – but with Brilliant Adventure, Bowie’s own reinterpretations of some of that material will see release for the first time – as TOY.

Soon after Bowie’s triumphant performance at Glastonbury June 25, 2000, which itself was released as simply Glastonbury 2000 in November 2018, Bowie took the band – guitarists Earl Slick and Gerry Leonard, pianist Mike Garson, violinist Lisa Germano, bass player Gail Ann Dorsey and drummer Sterling Campbell – backing singers Holly Palmer and Emm Gryner, and his old sidekick Tony Visconti, who did the string arrangements, into Sear Sound Studios in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, and cut 14 songs – a mix of new songs and re-imagined versions of songs he’d recorded between 1964 and 1967.

When he presented his label at the time, Virgin Records, the resulting album, TOY, they knocked it back, citing “a lot of scheduling conflicts”. Bowie was, as Visconti has since pointed out, “hurt terribly” and not soon after he left the label, set up his own ISO Records and signed with Columbia, with whom he released his next album, 2002’s Heathen.

“T0Y is like a moment in time,” Bowie’s co-producer Mark Plati on the album points out in a note accompanying the release of Brilliant Adventure, “captured in an amber of joy, fire and energy. It’s the sound of people happy to be playing music. David revisited and re-examined his work from decades prior through prisms of experience and fresh perspective – a parallel not lost on me as I now revisit it twenty years later. From time to time, he used to say ‘Mark, this is our album’ – I think because he knew I was so deeply in the trenches with him on that journey. I’m happy to finally be able to say it now belongs to all of us.”

David Bowie 5. Brilliant Adventure (1992 – 2001)

Brilliant Adventures Album CoverNamed after the Koto-led instrumental from Bowie’s 21st album, October 1999’s ‘hours…’, Brilliant Adventure (1992 – 2001) comprises an 11-CD box, 18-piece vinyl set and standard digital download box set. Brilliant Adventure includes some of Bowie’s most underrated and experimental material – Black Tie White Noise, The Buddha of Suburbia, 1.Outside, Earthling and ‘hours…’ along with the expanded live album BBC Radio Theatre, London, June 27, 2000, recorded two days after that Glastonbury performance in front of 500 lucky fans at the BBC’s art deco theatre in central London; the 39-song non-album/alternative version/B-sides and soundtrack music compilation Re:Call 5, and the aforementioned previously unreleased album TOY.

The physical box sets are accompanied by books – 84 pages in the CD box and 128 in the vinyl set – that feature rarely seen and previously unpublished photos by among others, Frank W. Ockenfels III, Nick Knight, John Scarisbrick and Nina Schultz Terner, as well as memorabilia, technical notes about the albums from producers/engineers Brian Eno, Nile Rodgers, Reeves Gabrels and Mark Plati as well as a new an interview with The Buddha of Suburbia collaborator Erdal Kizilçay.

The CD box set will include faithfully reproduced mini-vinyl versions of the original albums where applicable, and the CDs will be gold coloured rather than the usual silver. The vinyl box set has the same content as the CD set and is pressed on audiophile quality 180g vinyl.

But wait, there’s more…

Friday 7th January 2022, the day before David’s birthday, Parlophone Records/ISO Records will release TOY (TOY:BOX). To quote the label press release, “The ‘capture the moment’ approach of the recording sessions is extended to the sleeve artwork, designed by Bowie and featuring a photo of him as a baby with a contemporary face. The package also includes a 16-page full-colour book that again features previously unseen photographs by Frank Ockenfels III.”

Included in TOY:BOX is a second CD/set of 10” vinyl albums of alternative mixes and versions including proposed B-Sides (versions of Bowie’s debut single, Liza Jane, and 1967’s In The Heat Of The Morning), later mixes by Tony Visconti and the ‘Tibet Version’ of Silly Boy Blue, which was recorded at The Looking Glass Studio around the time of Bowie’s 2001 Tibet House show in New York City that featured Philip Glass on piano and Moby on guitar. The third CD/set of 10” vinyl albums features “Unplugged & Somewhat Slightly Electric” mixes of13 of the tracks on TOY, produced by Mark Plati

CD Tracklistings


The Wedding
You’ve Been Around
I Feel Free
Black Tie White Noise (featuring Al B. Sure!)
Jump They Say
Nite Flights
Pallas Athena
Miracle Goodnight
Don’t Let Me Down & Down
Looking for Lester
I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday
The Wedding Song


Buddha of Suburbia
Sex and the Church
South Horizon
The Mysteries
Bleed Like a Craze, Dad
Strangers When We Meet
Dead Against It
Untitled No. 1
Ian Fish, U.K. Heir
Buddha of Suburbia (featuring Lenny Kravitz on guitar)


Leon Takes Us Outside
The Hearts Filthy Lesson
A Small Plot of Land
Baby Grace (A Horrid Cassette)” (segue)
Hallo Spaceboy
The Motel
I Have Not Been to Oxford Town
No Control
Algeria Touchshriek (segue)
The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (as Beauty)
Ramona A. Stone/I Am with Name (segue)
Wishful Beginnings
We Prick You
Nathan Adler (segue)
I’m Deranged
Thru’ These Architects Eyes
Nathan Adler (segue)
Strangers When We Meet


Little Wonder
Looking for Satellites
Battle for Britain (The Letter)
Seven Years in Tibet
Dead Man Walking
Telling Lies
The Last Thing You Should Do
I’m Afraid of Americans
Law (Earthlings on Fire)

Thursday’s Child
Something in the Air
If I’m Dreaming My Life
What’s Really Happening?
The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell
New Angels of Promise
Brilliant Adventure
The Dreamers


Wild Is the Wind
Ashes to Ashes
This Is Not America
Absolute Beginners
Always Crashing in the Same Car
The London Boys
I Dig Everything
Little Wonder


The Man Who Sold the World
Hallo Spaceboy
Cracked Actor
I’m Afraid of Americans
All the Young Dudes
Let’s Dance


Toy Album CoverI Dig Everything
You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving
The London Boys
Karma Man
Conversation Piece
Shadow Man
Let Me Sleep Beside You
Hole In The Ground
Baby Loves That Way
Can’t Help Thinking About Me
Silly Boy Blue
Toy (Your Turn To Drive)


Real Cool World (Sounds From The Cool World Soundtrack Version)
Jump They Say (7” version)
Lucy Can’t Dance
Black Tie White Noise (feat Al B. Sure!) (Radio Edit)
Don’t Let Me Down & Down (Indonesian Vocal Version)
Buddha Of Suburbia (Single Version) (featuring Lenny Kravitz on guitar)
The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Radio Edit)
Nothing To Be Desired
Strangers When We Meet (edit)
Get Real
The Man Who Sold The World (Live Eno Mix)
I’m Afraid Of Americans (Showgirls Soundtrack Version)
Hallo Spaceboy (Remix)
I Am With Name (Alternative Version)
A Small Plot Of Land (Long Basquiat Soundtrack Version)


Little Wonder (Edit)
A Fleeting Moment (aka Seven Years In Tibet – Mandarin Version)
Dead Man Walking (Edit)
Seven Years In Tibet (Edit)
Planet Of Dreams – David Bowie and Gail Ann Dorsey
I’m Afraid Of Americans (V1 – Edit)
I Can’t Read (The Ice Storm Long Version)
A Foggy Day In London Town – David Bowie and Angelo Badalamenti
Fun (BowieNet Mix)
The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell (Stigmata Soundtrack Version)
Thursday’s Child (Radio Edit)
We All Go Through
No One Calls


We Shall Go To Town
The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell (Edit)
Thursday’s Child (Omikron: The Nomad Soul Version)
New Angels Of Promise (Omikron: The Nomad Soul Version)
The Dreamers (Omikron: The Nomad Soul Version)
Seven (Demo)
Survive (Marius De Vries mix)
Something In The Air (American Psycho Remix)
Seven (Marius De Vries Mix)
Pictures Of Lily

The vinyl LP box tracklistings vary

DAVID BOWIE – TOY (TOY:BOX) CD tracklisting

I Dig Everything
You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving
The London Boys
Karma Man
Conversation Piece
Shadow Man
Let Me Sleep Beside You
Hole In The Ground
Baby Loves That Way
Can’t Help Thinking About Me
Silly Boy Blue
Toy (Your Turn To Drive)

CD 2 TOY- Alternatives & Extras

Liza Jane
You’ve Got A Habit of Leaving (alternative mix) *
Baby Loves That Way (alternative mix) *
Can’t Help Thinking About Me (alternative mix)
I Dig Everything (alternative mix)
The London Boys (alternative version)
Silly Boy Blue (Tibet version)
Let Me Sleep Beside You (alternative mix) *
In The Heat Of The Morning
Conversation Piece (alternative mix) *
Hole In The Ground (alternative mix)
Shadow Man (alternative mix) *
Toy (Your Turn To Drive) (alternative mix) *

*Previously released

CD 3 TOY – Unplugged & Somewhat Slightly Electric Mix

In The Heat Of The Morning
I Dig Everything
You’ve Got A Habit of Leaving
The London Boys)
Karma Man)
Conversation Piece
Shadow Man
Let Me Sleep Beside You
Hole In The Ground
Baby Loves That Way
Can’t Help Thinking About Me
Silly Boy Blue
Toy (Your Turn To Drive)

By Michael George Smith, former Associate and Contributing editor at The Drum Media and The Music, freelance music journalist for RAM, Juke, On The Street, JAMM, Sonics and way more, freelance book reviewer for Overland, Island and Quadrant, author of What’s Been Did (And What’s Been Hid): A Narrative History of Australian Pop and Rock, three volumes completed to date, Volume I covering the artists and acts that emerged between 1955 and 1963, Volume II those between 1964 and 1969, and Volume III those between 1970 and 1976. Bass player with Mushroom signing Scandal 1976-78, and legendary instrumental surf guitar band The Atlantics 2006-12.