"The Gouster" was due to be released in 1975
Even the most die-hard fan of David Bowie fans will discover today that they haven't heard everything that the genius musician created, with the release of his long-lost 1975 album The Gouster.
A Bowie-curated 1970s boxset Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976) was released on Spotify today, but 50 (yes, 50) tracks into the collection is where The Gouster begins.
The album was initially ditched in favour of what would eventually become 1975's Young Americans album, as it features some early versions of songs found on that album, as well as a few completely original and unheard-until-now tracks.
Tony Visconti, Bowie's long time producer and close friend, explained the album’s creation and the title in the set’s liner notes:
“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.
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.
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.
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.”
If you've got Spotify, you can avail of the album right here.