Way back in 1984 the band U2 released The Unforgettable Fire, arguably their first major, major success. Sure, they had already captured attention with previous works, but this album shot them into the stratosphere. As much as I loved the album, I was blown away when in 1985 Wide Awake in America, a four song EP, was released. It featured live versions of two songs from The Unforgettable Fire (both incredibly good) and, more startlingly, two “discarded” songs which were ultimately not deemed strong enough to include in that album. The songs, “The Three Sunrises” and “Love Comes Tumbling Down” were both, IMHO, incredibly strong works and could –should– have been in the original album.
Fast forward to 2013.
After ten years of seeming (possible) retirement from music, David Bowie releases The Next Day last March to critical adulation -and the inevitable “best album since Scary Monsters notices- and it does pretty good business.
In retrospect and while I enjoyed the album, it struck me that many people/critics were overly hyping the album…this was pretty damn good David Bowie but I wasn’t sure I’d rank it among his best later day albums. As good as the album was, I really wished Mr. Bowie would rock out a little more, like I know he’s eminently capable of.
When the album was released, I recalled an interview with Tony Visconti, the album’s producer, noting there while recording The Next Day, there were many extra songs left over. Enough, he stated, for another full album.
So most of 2013 passes and, lo and behold, The Next Day Extra, a “bonus EP”, is released, one featuring the entire The Next Day plus the extras EP and, for those who already had that album, the seven song EP alone. I listened to the samples of the songs but held back on buying the album right away. Frankly, the snippets didn’t do all that much for me.
Which goes to show that sometimes song snippets don’t tell you how good a full song might be.
Over the weekend I downloaded (legally!) the EP and, like U2’s Wide Awake in America, I was blown away. Here was the rocking David Bowie music I was longing to hear! Why oh why, Mr. Bowie, didn’t you include some of these songs on The Next Day itself?! Perhaps they didn’t quite “fit” with the narrative, but they’re pretty damn good!
The snippet of “Atomica”, the first song in the EP, certainly did it no favors…the full song, again IMHO, is a great rocker:
The album features five “new” songs and two “remixes”, all of which are quite good. I think the 10 and a half (!!!) minute remix of “Love is Lost” is better than the version on the original album while the remix of “I’d Rather Be High” wasn’t all that significantly different from the original, yet still pretty good. Apart from “Atomica” and the remix of “Love Is Lost”, my other favorite “new” song, previously only released as a bonus in the Japanese market, is “God Bless the Girl”:
The bottom line is this: if you liked The Next Day and want a little more from it, give The Next Day Extra a listen.