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Johnny Mathis, The Velvet Underground, Eddie Floyd, Iggy Pop...
on 1 May 2014
...they're all here, along with The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Pixies and many more. Consisting of 24 tracks covered by Bowie between 1964 and 2002, the most noticeable thing is how similar many of Bowie's versions are to these. It seems that he liked these songs so much that he mostly (but not always) recorded straight-forward facsimiles. In a few instances his versions are better but overall I'd suggest that the songs on this compilation have the edge but, given the similarities, there isn't too much in it.
I'll take Martha & The Vandellas 'Dancing in the Streets' over Bowie & Jagger hamming it up any day and I'd have included Scott Walker's English language cover of Jacques Brel's 'Amsterdam' given that Bowie is a notable Walker aficionado (and possibly heard Walker's version first). Nonetheless, Brel's live recording included here is the ultimate version. I do prefer Bowie's cover of 'Kingdom Come' (he sings it better than Tom Verlaine and the backing vocals are superior) and his version of 'Wild is the Wind' will forever remain definitive. The Legendary Stardust Cowboy's 'I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship' from 1969 sounds like a B-side by The Fall and Iggy Pop's 'Don't Look Down' is almost unrecognisable from the song that appears on Bowie's Tonight album and is reggae free.
There are omissions - The Beatles 'Across the Universe', Lennon's 'Working Class Hero', Morrissey's 'I Know it's Gonna Happen Someday', The Beach Boys 'God Only Knows', The Rolling Stones 'Let's Spend the Night Together', etc - but I suppose you'd need a 2/3 CD set to include everything and in the case of the former it's probably due to licensing rights.
Featuring a diverse range of artists and songs, whether you're a Bowie fan or not there's something for everyone to enjoy. Clocking in at 76 minutes and housed in a jewel case, the liner notes feature a biography of Bowie's career from 1972 onwards and reproduction photos of record sleeves.