Consisting of scarce outtakes and B-sides, RCA’s 1982 compilation Bowie Rare for the first time made available some tracks that would subsequently appear on many Bowie collections, reissues, and other sets right up until today. Most of the songs collected on the original compilation are odds and ends: particularly odd is an Italian-sung version of Space Oddity: Ragazzo solo, ragazza sola.
Bowie deemed the collection questionable upon the release of Rare, however Carlo Basile, Head of International A&R RCA Italy, has personally told me he had approval from DB to release this album, so all credit to Carlo and RCA for putting this interesting collection together.
Italian record company executive Carlo Basile greeting the Thin White Duke in 1976
Ironically, the album itself is now considered ‘rare’. The nicely packaged original album (although I think my cover is better from the same photo shoot) reached a respectable number 34 on the UK charts.
Rare 2 on the other hand is an extremely throwaway affair, compiled of tracks familiar to anyone with a passing interest in all things Bowie, lifting excellent tracks from the original 1982 album and other songs either buried or only recently seeing the light of day; all historical footnotes that, like the pressing of the original Rare, may also wind up in a box in your garage one day.
- Velvet Goldmine – recorded during the Ziggy sessions in 1971, inexplicably left off the album, ended up as the b-side to the 1975 UK #1 Space Oddity single. Not terribly rare.
- Mother Grey – a recently discovered cheery mini-classic, released in 2019 on Spying Through a Keyhole, a collection of late-60s outtakes and demos. Very rare, until now.
- Sweet Head – like Velvet Goldmine, another track left off the album from the 1971 sessions (this one actually namechecks Ziggy) and saw the light of day as a bonus cut on a 1990 reissue. Slightly rare.
- Holy Holy – remake of 1970 rare never re-released flop single, this meatier version was recorded in 1971 and another one left off Ziggy, finally surfaced as the b-side to Diamond Dogs single in 1974. Slightly rare.
- Space Oddity (acoustic version) – cut in late-1979, this intense stripped down version is something to behold. B-side to the Alabama Song single in 1980. Not rare.
- Cat People (Putting Out Fire) – recorded in 1981 and released as a single in 1982 from the now out of print Georgio Moroder Cat People soundtrack. Re-made for 1983’s Let’s Dance album. Unrare.
- Angel Angel Grubby Face – demo from 1968, cut for Bowie’s never realized second Deram album. Recently unearthed gem from Spying… Rare!
- Threepenny Joe / Love is All Around – more recently unearthed gems from Spying… Rare!
- Sound and Vision (live) – uncommon live outing, this Low masterpiece was briefly trotted out during the career-high 1978 world tour. Interesting wobbly version, Bowie jokes tongue-in-cheek; “This is all last night’s stuff folks”. It appears on Welcome to the Blackout. Rare!
- Right On Mother – Piano-based outtake from 1970, a creepy hoot possibly never considered for Hunky Dory (1971), recorded by Peter Noone in 1971. Rare!
- Crystal Japan – recorded 1979 for a Japanese sake commercial, b-side of Up The Hill Backwards 1981, Scary Monsters…. re-issue etc. Not rare.
- Lightning Frightening – recorded in 1971, this bluesy Crazy Horse ripoff jam appeared as a bonus cut on the widely available The Man Who Sold the World reissue in 1990. Not rare.
- Too Dizzy – has the unenviable honor of being a song Bowie thought so bad he had it deleted from all subsequent reissues of Never Let Me Down. Unfortunately my copy has it. Nowhere to be seen on 2018’s Loving the Alien set. It really has (almost) been deleted from history; until now. Rare!