Apparently while the world was shuttered and shuddering from COVID and watching loads of Netflix and livestreams to stay entertained, A number of David Bowie anniversaries and requisite releases and events were just whizzing by in both 2020 and 2021, and they’re still going. On top of the rock legend’s 75th birthday having just passed on January 7, and his death on January 10, this month also marks the 50th anniversary of seminal album (they’re all seminal, really, we’re talking about Bowie), Hunky Dory , the 45th anniversary of Low and the 50th anniversary of the official entre of Ziggy Stardust into our lives and hearts. And that’s only the beginning.
Bowie’s immediate family, which includes his wife, the equally amazing and intriguing fashion model, actress and designer Iman and their two children Duncan and Alexandria have deigned to release an almost dizzying array of collectibles, re-issues and, yes, actual new music via his estate as part of this quadruple celebration. This is in addition to a number of in-person and online events, a dedicated “David Bowie Day” on Spotify and Apple Music with Spotify also curating an official playlist, special artwork, merch…the list goes on.
The size of the hole Bowie left in the world of arts and culture upon his departure from this planet is one of the biggest ever. It’s such a blessing that his estate, Iman and children are working to fill that chasm and keep not just the memory but the energy of David Bowie alive and well. That said, there’s a lot to go through, especially with releases, right now. The best places to see what’s new on the home planet of the Starman are his official website, Instagram and a dedicated Bowie75 website for all things Bowie, but to start to make heads or tails of it, we compiled a shortlist of the monumental releases of the past month or so.
Hunky Dory album re-release and “Changes” alt mix – the Hunky Dory album actually released on December 17, 1972 and so that’s when Bowie’s estate deigned to release the streaming alt remix of arguably the most iconic track from that album, “Changes.” The best way to stream is via the lyric video on Bowie’s YouTube channel, which contains previously unreleased photos from the Hunky Dory studio session (below).
The re-release of Hunky Dory in a limited edition picture disc was on Bowie’s birthday, January 7. While “Changes” is the most popular track from the album, it has plenty more memorable hits, including “Life on Mars?,” “Kooks,” “Oh! You Pretty Things” and “Queen Bitch.” The printed picture vinyl comes with more rare photos, a complete set of linear notes and Bowie’s session notes in the album jacket. The album was remastered in 2015 while Bowie was still alive.
TOY:Box – This is the release from Bowie’s estate that fans have been salivating over the most. Recorded in 2000 after Bowie’s famous Glastonbury performance, TOY also released on Bowie Day, January 7, officially that is. The album was leaked in 2011 but since then has been remastered professionally and teased mercilessly on his Instagram. It’s for good reason: the reviews on the posthumous masterpiece are glowing.
What makes this album so interesting is that, while recorded only two decades ago, it was meant to be a revisiting of the more experimental ideas Bowie and crew had in the 60s. As an artist who was considered out there and ahead of his time with what he did release in the 60s, fans couldn’t have imagined it got even more experimental. Thankfully, TOY is here to fill the gap many of us never knew we had.
The stand-alone TOY album was released in November as part of a bigger box set (more on this below) but on the 7th it got its own box set, appropriately named TOY:Box. Available on three CDs or six vinyl records, TOY reimagines unreleased work from the 60s and early 70s through the prism of Bowie’s (then) modern process and ear. The box set also contains alt mixes, proposed b-sides and a full remix album from producer Mark Piati. Fans of obscure David Bowie work, rejoice. The box sets are available to purchase on davidbowie.com and the album can be streamed on most platforms.
David Bowie Brilliant Adventure 1992-2001 box set – Chronicling Bowie’s most experimental era the, Brilliant Adventure box set is truly massive. The vinyl set is comprised of 18 full LPs (ten CDs) worth of remastered music, including the heretofore unreleased TOY. There’s also an 84-page full color book with previously unreleased photos from the era and technical notes from the likes of Brian Eno and Nile Rogers. One disc is a full live performance from Bowie in 2000 at the BBC Radio Theatre in London. There’s honestly too much to list featured n this box set. Read the full list of features here.
On top of the direct releases from Bowie, there have been loads of events, both online and in person celebrating the legend of Bowie on this 75th birthday, and they’re still going. Coming up this week is the closing of the two Bowie75 retail/art installations in London and New York, respectively, with the London exhibition being on the iconic Heddon Street, the same street pictured in The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The Wooster Street location in New York is also significant as it’s around the corner from Bowie’s former SOHO loft. They really did think of everything when planning this months-long celebration.
Anyone who happens to be in London or New York this week should check out the exhibitions before they close on January 22, but for those of us stuck in slightly less cool cities, there’s also a number of online events, the most significant of which passed but also still going : the 360 Reality Audio experience. A four-track livestream from Bowie’s 2003 A Reality tour debuted on January 6 and can still be listened to on YouTube. 360reality Audio promises real, immersive live-quality experiences online and the company have also remastered a number of Bowie’s albums, to be released this Friday, January 21. “Space Oddity” can already be streamed on Tidal, Amazon and Deezer. Stay tuned to 360 Reality Audio for the album drops or download the app here.
Lastly, and this just popped up, there’s a confusingly unadvertised YouTube watch party coming up tomorrow, January 20 called “David Bowie Is.” Because it’s largely unadvertised (we only found it thanks to all the Bowie searches done for this article), it’s hard to say what the watch party will actually entail. It could be related to an exhibition that was held in 2013 of the same name about which there is also a dearth of information, but fans will likely have to watch to find out. The “David Bowie Is” watch party will be on January 20, 2022 at 6pm GMT. Here’s the link to bookmark it.
For a full list of online events still to come and where to find the upcoming releases, check out the Bowie75 page. Now while we’re all figuring out what to stream, buy, watch, et cetera (your author is partial to the extensive march page on davidbowie.com), let’s not forget to thank Bowie’s family and estate for keeping the Starman’s star from burning out.
Read our review of Bowie’s final album “blackstar”.