a previously unheard david bowie record is being released

An early version of the album that grew into Bowie’s plastic soul classic, 'Young Americans,' will be included in an upcoming boxset.

by i-D Staff
22 July 2016, 2:26pm

It has been announced that a previously unheard David Bowie album, titled The Gouster, is to be released as part of a box set covering the post Ziggy Stardust, pre Thin White Duke years. After Bowie moved to New York -- writing an epic, cocaine-induced concept album about a post-apocalyptic world loosely based on George Orwell's 1984 -- he relocated to Philadelphia to harness the sound of city's soul scene. The resulting album became one of Bowie's classics: Young Americans, a stylish ode to soul and funk, recorded with the city's musicians, including a young Luther Vandross and guitarist Carlos Alomar, who would end up working with Bowie for over 30 years.

But before Young Americans grew into the classic we know, it started life as The Gouster, with Bowie and longtime collaborator Tony Visconti recording a different version of the album that was eventually scrapped and is only now seeing the light of day in its full, unadulterated glory. The Gouster, Tony explains, in a post on Bowie's Facebook page, was a soul subculture from Chicago, a preppy Ivy League variant on classic soul style. "In the context of the album [Gouster] was an attitude of pride and hipness. Of all the songs we cut we were enamored of the ones we chose for the album that portrayed this attitude."

The record contains early versions of "Somebody Up There Likes Me," and an alt version of Bowie's classic sexually ambitious track "John I'm Only Dancing," that Visconti says, "sounded like it was being played in a loft party in Harlem."

"We sure as hell wanted to make a killer soul album," Visconti explains, "Forty minutes of glorious funk, that's what it was and that's how I thought it would be." That's all the information we have right now, but release dates, and details of the rest of the box set will announced next week.

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WHO CAN I BE NOW? (1974 – 1976)
The Gouster
Young Americans
unreleased album