David Bowie's official website has announced plans for a fifth epoch-covering box set to release next year, after delaying an alternate version of said collection for a 2020 release.
In a brief post, the late singer's website confirms that the follow-up to the four career-spanning album boxes - 2015's Five Years (1969-1973), 2016's Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976), 2017's A New Career in a New Town (1977-1982) and 2018's Loving The Alien (1983-1988) - will cover the widest span of time yet: 1993 to 2001, considered by some to be his most "electronic" period.
"The amount of time between the last year covered by each era box and its release date is decreasing exponentially, if that makes sense," the post reads. (Stay with us here: the first box, six years ago, came out 42 years after the material it covered, while the latest box, two years ago, only followed its era by 30 years.) "So with the Era 5 box which was originally going to cover the years 1993 to 1999, the plan was to release last year.
"However, we then decided to increase the span of the box up to 2001," the post continues, "so to keep at least a 20 year gap between the last year covered and release date, it means the box won't now be released till next year."
With this span of time, fans can expect the next box to cover the following studio albums, after a yearslong sojourn fronting the band Tin Machine and revisiting his catalogue on the Sound + Vision tour and box set:
- Black Tie White Noise, a 1993 reunion with Let's Dance producer Nile Rodgers and Ziggy Stardust guitarist Mick Ronson, who died just weeks after the album's release. "Jump They Say" became Bowie's first U.K. Top 10 single since 1987.
- The Buddha of Suburbia, the soundtrack to the 1993 BBC2 series of the same name. (Bowie called it his favorite of his albums in 2003, despite its frequent falling out-of-print.)
- 1995's 1. Outside, which saw Bowie reunite with producer Brian Eno for the first time since the "Berlin" era collected in Who Can I Be Now?
- Earthling, 1997's aggressive drum-and-bass-inspired record. ("I'm Afraid of Americans," as remixed by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, reached the middle third of the Billboard Hot 100.)
- 'hours...', released in 1999, unintentionally completing Bowie's tenure with EMI, because...
- Toy, planned for release on Virgin in 2001, would have seen the singer revisiting more than a dozen songs written (and sometimes released on singles) in the years before Space Oddity. Its cancellation and the sessions to Heathen (2002) led to a new chapter on Columbia Records, though some of the tracks were released as B-sides or on the compilation Nothing Has Changed.
Bowie embarked on many other creative projects and tours during this time, which could well be anthologized herein. This year alone, four live sets have been made available digitally from this era: Ouvre le Chien (Live Dallas 95), from the Outside tour; the 1999 Internet-only album LiveAndWell.com, covering 1997's Earthling Tour; and Something in the Air (Live Paris 99), from the 'hours...' Tour. This year's Is It Any Wonder? EP and ChangesNowBowie (a 1997 BBC session released for Record Store Day's first drop on August 29) also cover these eras. The non-physical nature of most of these releases certainly inspire hope for fans of physical discs that all or some will be included in this set. (One thing likely to be excluded: Bowie's 2000 headlining set at the Glastonbury Festival, released in 2018.)
Of course, the Bowie estate has been exhaustive in celebrating other eras: last year, three separate collections of vinyl-only demos were compiled with a remix of Space Oddity as Conversation Piece, a review of the singer's 1969 output. And this year, Tony Visconti is remixing The Man Who Sold the World for a 50th anniversary reissue entitled Metrobolist (the album's purported original title).
And that doesn't appear to be it for 2020, either: the penultimate sentence of the post urges fans to "stay tuned for the announcement of another exciting project before the end of next week."
What are you looking forward to in the next era-spanning Bowie box? What do you think that next "exciting project" will be? Sound off below, and as always, keep it locked to The Second Disc when the news breaks.