What is The Gouster?
Parlophone Records has the answer with the upcoming release of the second in the series of David Bowie’s complete albums box sets, Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976). The label promises a full announcement next week of the set which will follow last year’s Five Years (1969-1973), but in the meantime, a special addition to the box has been confirmed: the unreleased album The Gouster, an embryonic version of 1975’s “plastic soul” classic Young Americans which found Bowie embracing R&B at Philadelphia’s famed Sigma Sound Studios.
The late artist famously could be anyone whom he desired, thanks to his boundless imagination, singular style, and powerful musical curiosity. Producer and Bowie’s longtime collaborator Tony Visconti explains in the book to the upcoming box (as quoted on Facebook in Parlophone’s announcement) that “Gouster was a word unfamiliar to me but David knew it as a type of dress code worn by African American teens in the ’60s, in Chicago. But in the context of the album its meaning was attitude, 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.” Visconti continued, “David had a long infatuation with soul as did I. We were fans of the TV show Soul Train. We weren’t ‘young, gifted and black’ but we sure as hell wanted to make a killer soul album, which was quite insane, but pioneers like the Righteous Brothers were there before us.”
The Gouster begins with “John, I’m Only Dancing (Again),” the funk-infused remake of Bowie’s 1972 single first released in 1979. It goes on to feature another six tracks. “Who Can I Be Now?” and “It’s Gonna Be Me” first surfaced in 1991 on Rykodisc’s expanded reissue of Young Americans. “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” “Right,” “Can You Hear Me” and “Young Americans” all eventually ended up on the completed album Young Americans. Various mixes exist of many of these tracks; it hasn’t yet been revealed in exactly which form these songs will appear on The Gouster. The cover for the album has been created with a previously unpublished image from the original photo session.
Parlophone promises more details next week on Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976). In the meantime, you can review the track listing for The Gouster below!
David Bowie, The Gouster (1974) to be included in the upcoming box set Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976)
- John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)
- Somebody Up There Likes Me
- It’s Gonna Be Me
- Who Can I Be Now?
- Can You Hear Me
- Young Americans