RECORD COLLECTOR: David Bowie / Never Let Me Down (1987)
In the first of an occasional feature, we look at some relative rarities associated with a well-known album.
With the news yesterday that David Bowie‘s 1973 Aladdin Sane is being prepped for a 40th anniversary reissue we look back at the man’s slightly less lauded Never Let Me Down album released only 14 years later in 1987.
Ironically, one of Bowie’s least-loved records (even by the man himself) saw the marketing men go to town on the three singles (Day-In Day-Out, Time Will Crawl and Never Let Me Down) with a myriad of formats, multiple remixes and limited edition items.
We’ll take a look at a selection of commercial releases that supported the album. It’s not supposed to be comprehensive, but rather a flavour of some of the interesting items that were released at the time. The numbers below relate to the main photo above.
#1: Never Let Me Down Japanese mini-LP CD (2007)
The exquisite Japanese vinyl replica CD of this album was issued in 2007. Being a replica of the original packaging, the track Too Dizzy is listed on the miniature sleeve, although it doesn’t actually play on the CD, since this pressing uses the 1999 EMI mastering. Bowie had decided soon after release that hated Too Dizzy and had it removed from all subsequent pressings of the album.
#2: Never Let Me Down original music book (1987 – Hal Leonard Publishing)
This 52-page music book provides notation for the 11-track version of the album (i.e. it includes Too Dizzy!). No guitar ‘tabs’ but chord boxes, melody and lyrics. Some nice full-page black and white photos of a serious and moody looking Bowie front and back of this publication.
#3 Day-In Day-Out UK cassette single (1987 – TCEA 230)
The first single off the Never Let Me Down album was Day-In Day-Out. In the UK this was issued on two seven-inch vinyl versions, two 12-inch records and this cassette single, which came in a case reminiscent of the old VHS rental boxes.
This was something of a short lived packaging experiment from EMI who released a few other singles in this form (Duran Duran’s Skin Trade being one).
The track listing here simply repeats what was on the standard 12-inch vinyl single:
- Day-In Day-Out (Extended Dance Mix)
- Day-In Day-Out (Extended Dub Mix)
Julie was one of two non-album tracks released. Girls was the other which appeared in three different variations on the Time Will Crawl single (they are single version, Extended Edit and Japanese Version). Eighties remixer extraordinaire Shep Pettibone was responsible for the Day-In Day-Out remixes.
#4 Never Let Me Down Japanese CD single (1987 – CP20-5520)
1987 was the breakthrough year for the CD single in the UK. Despite this, none were issued for the three 45s from Never Let Me Down. Japan was the only territory where a commercial CD single was available (there was a US promo) and this 6-track release of Never Let Me Down contained the following tracks:
- Never Let Me Down (Extended Dance Remix) 7.03
- Never Let Me Down (7″ Remix) 3.58
- Never Let Me Down (Dub) 3.57
- Never Let Me Down (a cappella) 2.03
- Never Let Me Down (instrumental) 4.02
- ’87 And Cry (Single Version) 3.53
Despite being one of the better songs from the album, if you can make it through all five of these remixes in a row, you’ll never want to hear Never Let Me Down again! ’87 and Cry is described as the ‘single version’ although it doesn’t appear to have been a single anywhere. Maybe it was a cancelled fourth single?
#5 Never Let Me Down UK 12″ single (1987 – 12EA 239)
The UK twelve-inch of the third and final single from the album contains the following tracks:
- Never Let Me Down (Extended Dance Remix) 7.03
- ’87 And Cry (edit) 3.53
- Never Let Me Down (dub) 3.57
- Never Let Me Down (acappella) 2.03
#6 Never Let Me Down UK cassette single (1987 – TCEA 239)
In the mid to late ’80s, UK cassette singles tended to be quite interesting, pulling in rare remixes from other formats, often becoming unique compilations in their own right. In the early ’90s, the industry spoiled this and cassettes were forced to replicate the basic two-track seven-inch singles. Track listing here is as follows (spelling and credits as per the cassette)
- Never Let Me Down (7″ Version) 4.04
- Time Will Crawl (Extended Dance Mix) 6.11
- Day-In Day-Out (Groucho Mix) 6.28
- ’87 & Cry (Single Version) 3.52
The ‘Groucho Mix’ of Day-In Day-Out was issued as a limited edition remix 12-inch vinyl when that single was released (mixed by Paul “Groucho” Smykle). Time Will Crawl is the standard 12-inch version (not the “Dance Crew Mix” from the second 12-inch vinyl). All in all a smart little cassette with all three singles in some form or another.
#7 Glass Spider DVD+2CD Edition 2007
Released in 2007 this set provides a live performance of the Glass Spider tour filmed in Sydney on 7th and 9th November 1987. 2CDs of audio are also included which the performance taken from Montreal on 30th August 1987.