Twenty years after its original proposed release, David Bowie‘s 2001 album Toy, which was never officially released, will be made available on Jan. 7.
After his performance at the 2000 Glastonbury Festival, Bowie returned to the studio with his band to record reworked versions of songs he first recorded between 1964-71. At the time, the idea was to record the tracks live, choose the best takes and release a “surprise” album as quickly as possible — a promotional concept that, like many things Bowie did, was several years ahead of its time.
After some disputes between Bowie and his label, the album, Toy, was subsequently shelved, though bootleg copies leaked online in 2011.
Toy will now be included in the upcoming Era Five: Brilliant Adventure box – the fifth installment of the late singer’s series of career-collecting sets, which is due for release on Nov. 26 of this year. Era Five will cover the years 1992-2001 and include newly remastered versions of Black Tie White Noise, The Buddha of Suburbia, 1. Outside, Earthling and ‘Hours … ‘, plus an expanded live album, BBC Radio Theatre, London, June 27, 2000 and Re:Call 5, a collection of non-album, alternative version, B-sides and soundtrack songs.
An 84-page book will include rare photos, as well as technical notes about the albums from producers and engineers Brian Eno, Nile Rodgers, Reeves Gabrels and Mark Plati.
You can hear one of the tracks from Toy, “You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving,” below. Bowie first released the song as a single in 1965 under the name Davy Jones with his band at the time, the Lower Third.
In addition to the full Toy album, the set also includes a second CD of alternate mixes and versions, including proposed B-sides, later mixes by Tony Visconti and more. A third CD features Unplugged & Somewhat Slightly Electric mixes of 13 Toy tracks.
“While we were recording the basic tracks, [guitarist] Earl Slick suggested that he and I overdub acoustic guitars on all the songs,” Plati said of the Unplugged and Somewhat Slightly Electric tracks in a statement.
“He said this was a Keith Richards’ trick, sometimes these guitars would be a featured part of the track, and at other times they’d be more subliminal. Later while mixing, David heard one of the songs broken down to just vocals and acoustic guitars; this gave him the idea that we ought to do some stripped-down mixes like that and that maybe one day they’d be useful. Once we put a couple of other elements in the pot, it felt like it could be a completely different record. I was only too happy to finish that thought some two decades after the fact”.
Toy concludes with a new song, “Toy (Your Turn to Drive),” which was constructed from a jam that took place at the end of one of the live takes of “I Dig Everything.” The track features rearranged sections of Sterling Campbell’s drums, Gail Ann Dorsey’s bass and Mike Garson’s piano looped with a sampled guitar line of Slick’s. “As it was culled from ‘I Dig Everything,’ it makes sense to bookend the album with this track,” Plati said. “It’s also a fitting postscript to the Toy era.”
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