Over the past week and a half, I’ve seen several erroneous reports that a “lost” Bowie album has resurfaced and is now available for purchase. What these articles are referring to is what the Bowie camp are purporting to be The Gouster, a scrapped album that eventually gave way to Young Americans, currently included in the recently released Who Can I Be Now? box set.
What this compilation is in actuality is a series of alternate mixes and other Young Americans outtakes, plus the “John I’m Only Dancing (Again)” single from 1979. None of the actual “lost” Gouster material (Shilling the Rubes, I Am Laser, etc.) appears on this release. As of now, only snippets of this music can be found online and none of it has ever received an official release. The music press is lazy and regurgitating a false narrative of a “lost album” and people are being duped.
What’s more, many of the alternate mixes included in this box set were already available on other official releases, even though they are being touted as “previously unheard mixes” in official press releases (for example, the Harry Maslin mix of “TVC-15” was included as a DVD extra in the 2010 Station to Station box set). The deceptive nature of the promotion of Who Can I Be Now? compounded by the disappointing lack of quality content in the release has left a bad taste in the mouth of normally voracious Bowie collectors, myself included. It is certainly not worth the $230-240 retail price for the LP set. A few months from now, the remastered albums included in the box set will be individually released at much more reasonable prices, for those of you who may be interested in some of the box set’s content.
Overall, the music is and will always be fantastic but for now, this release is only for the completists.
Words by Adrianna Gober