‘The Gouster’ – the David Bowie album that never was

Bowie's 'lost' album will be included in new box set 'David Bowie - Who Can I Be Now? (1974 – 1976)'
David Bowie The Gouster unreleased album

The follow up to Parlophone’s award-winning box set, David Bowie – Five Years (1969 – 1973), will be David Bowie – Who Can I Be Now? (1974 – 1976).

Exclusive to the set is The Gouster, which is the album which morphed into Young Americans after Bowie met John Lennon in New York. During the sessions with Lennon they recorded ‘Fame‘ and ‘Across The Universe’, and the rest is history.

Full details and the release date of David Bowie – Who Can I Be Now? (1974 – 1976) will be released next week.

Here’s how The Gouster’s tracklisting looked before it morphed into Young Americans.

Side 1

  1. John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)
  2. Somebody Up There Likes Me
  3. It’s Gonna Be Me

Side 2

  1. Who Can I Be Now?
  2. Can You Hear Me
  3. Young Americans
  4. Right

Listen to The Gouster

To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt from Tony Visconti’s notes on the album, taken from the box set book:

“Gouster was a word unfamiliar to me but David knew it as a type of dress code worn by African American teens in the ‘60’s, 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.

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.

David Bowie The Gouster unreleased album

So ‘The Gouster’ began with the outrageous brand new, funkafied version of David’s classic ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’, a single he wrote and recorded in 1972, only this time our version sounded like it was played live in a loft party in Harlem and he added (Again) to the title. It wasn’t the two and a half minute length of the original either.

We maxed out at virtually seven minutes! With the time limitations of vinyl (big volume drop with more than 18 minutes a side) we could only fit two other long songs on side one, ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ and ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ both about six and a half minute songs. We had hit the twenty-minute mark. Technically that worked because ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ had lots of quiet sections where the record groove could be safely made narrower and that would preserve the apparent loudness of side one.

“Forty minutes of glorious funk, that’s what it was and that’s how I thought it would be.”

Side two also hit the twenty-minute mark with ‘Can You Hear Me’ saving the day with its quiet passages. Forty minutes of glorious funk, that’s what it was and that’s how I thought it would be.”