When David Bowie released his 24th studio album The Next Day in March — after a 10 year musical hiatus — fans and music critics alike were thrilled. Devotees salivated over the gorgeous videos for the singles “Where Are We Now?,” “The Next Day,” “Valentine’s Day,” and “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” — watching them millions of times on YouTube. Reviewers hailed the 14-track album a “masterpiece” and a “triumphant return.” Bowie was back, they said.
Yet, he wasn’t really. Bowie dropped the album on iTunes, without so much as press conference or bombshell interview, and quietly slipped back behind the scenes, out of the limelight, where he had been for much of the last decade. No promotional tour was promised; no pop-up gigs or red-carpet return took place. There was only the music.
Luckily for Bowie fans, the Nov. 5 release of The Next Day Extra, an expanded collector’s edition, offers even more of that music. The three-disc edition includes the original album, a DVD of the album’s music videos, and a 10-track bonus CD with five previously unreleased songs and two new remixes.
Then there’s the charming, slow-building “God Bless The Girl,” which was included on Japan’s edition of The Next Day, but nowhere else. With its rolling, melodic verses and gospel-like chorus, the track has shades of 1986’s “Underground,” to better effect.
There is a weak spot with “The Informer,” an almost boring number where Bowie meditates on the end of the line. “I’ve got major questions/ About the Lord above/ About Satan below/ About the way we love,” he croons. Heavy stuff, sure, but the song itself sags.
In addition to the new tracks, The Next Day Extra also features a spectacular ten-minute remix of “Love is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix)” by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame. The David Lynch-esque video for the abridged track was shot and edited by Bowie in just 72 hours and it references the 1980 video for “Ashes to Ashes.” The video debuted at the Mercury Prize ceremony in London on Oct. 30.
March’s surprise release was widely hailed as a complex throwback to Bowie’s early work, particularly his “Berlin Trilogy” years where he produced the albums Low, “Heroes,” and Lodger. These new tracks augment that journey, though they likely wouldn’t stand on their own, as they simply lack the edge of the album. Still, the new material is a largely accessible upbeat mix and likely to please fans who have had their appetite for new Bowie whetted with The Next Day.