Recorded in New York in late 1996 for BBC broadcast on Jan. 8, 1997, David Bowie’s 50th birthday, ChangesNowBowie is a a gift from beyond.
Joined by Mark Plati on keys and programs, Reeves Gabrels on guitars and Gail Ann Dorsey on bass and co-lead vocals on a fantastical reimagining of “Aladdin Sane,” Bowie runs through nine tracks in just over 30 minutes. And what a half-hour this mostly acoustic – save for a crackling rendition of Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” – recording is as Bowie plays songs both familiar (“The Man Who Sold the World”) and deep (“Repetition,” Tin Machine’s “Shopping for Girls”).
With the exception of the aforementioned “Sane,” Bowie sticks pretty close to the original melodies with obvious changes necessitated by the instrumentation. With no weaklings in the bunch, “Lady Stardust” may be the strongest cut as Dorsey’s bass – essential, and almost a lead instrument throughout the recording – intertwines with Bowie’s voice, which seemed never to change.
Posthumous releases – including some of Bowie’s – often come off as barrel scrapings. ChangesNowBowie, however, leaves the listener wondering, What took so long?