David Bowie: The Late White Duke (1999-2016)

Someone asked me if I thought it was possible to assemble a 21st Century Bowie album that could stand with his late-Seventies albums. This mix is how I answered yes.

In addition to album tracks (well-known & deep cuts), the mix includes b-sides, off-to-the-side recordings, and remixes that are currently unavailable for purchase or to stream. Some of these “lost” recordings are peak tracks to me – “Nature Boy,” “Bring Me the Disco King” (Lohner mix), “Sunday” (Visconti mix) – as are the deep cuts "5:15" and "She Will Drive the Big Car."

21st Century Bowie has two really interesting and pleasurable plots (within the whole of the period):

  • Strange and ambitious compositions and vocal performances, rendered magically in the mix – my favorites of which are featured on this compilation. 
  • A charming, crooning David Jones throwback mode, initiated by the attitude of “Hours.” This angle featured here and there on album songs, but it was focused around the turn of the century and was supposed to be represented by an album named “Toy.” Bowie eventually leaked that album, and additional tracks showed up as b-sides. (Another good candidate for a future mix.)

I’m going out on a limb sharing commercially available tracks, but as there’s no official compilation that touches more than a few songs from Bowie’s final 15 years – and because most of the albums were greeted as returns-to-form, only to be mostly filed-and-forgotten again – consider me an earnest A&R man, arguing that the final 15 years deserve sustained love (purchases, streams, rarity-laden reissues, etc.).

I’ll be surprised if the mix doesn’t make you dig deeper into 21st Century Bowie.

Cover photo by Jimmy King, 2014.

One-hour proof-of-concept mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Blackstar (2nd half, from Blackstar)
  • 5:15 the Angels Have Come (from Heathen)
  • We Shall Go to Town (b-side)
  • Sunday (Visconti mix of Heathen track)
  • Nature Boy (non-album track)
  • Where Are We Now? (from The Next Day)
  • Bring Me the Disco King (Lohner mix of Reality track)
  • Slow Burn (from Heathen)
  • The Stars (Are Out Tonight) (from The Next Day)
  • Brilliant Adventure (from Hours)
  • Heathen (The Rays) (from Heathen)
  • She’ll Drive the Big Car (from Reality)
  • Sue (Or in a Season of Crime) (from Blackstar)
  • No One Calls (b-side)

Side Trips: David Bowie - "BOWIEAMERICANYEAR" V2 (1974 reconfiguration)

This is a fake 2-LP Bowie album from 1974, made up almost entirely of officially released songs. It is intended to be the soul-funk-disco Bowie edifice that the year’s albums implied but never quite pulled off, IMO. 

Soul-funk-disco Bowie got put in a lot of different places: “Young Americans," “The Gouster,” “David Live,” to a limited extent “Diamond Dogs," and the more recent "Cracked Actor," a live show from late in the 1974 tour. Beyond those sources, I've pulled in an old Rykodisc bonus track (from a better source), and an astounding alternate mix of "Across the Universe" (from a bootleg). 

I would argue that the year’s output was great, but that it was not a trail-blazing moment for Bowie. Instead, it was mostly a shaggy homage to varied Black American music, some of it old, some of it contemporary. He was definitely intuitive about where popular music was going in the mid-to-late 1970s, but he didn’t make it thoroughly his own the way he did glam beforehand and Krautrock/”new wave” afterwards. 

So, I don’t think you get to the strongest case for 1974 soul-funk-disco Bowie by trying to find the 10 best songs; you aim to cover as many angles as possible, with as many songs as possible. I got to 20.

This particular Bowie pose feels natural and complete to me, blown out into a double-LP. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, as it arguably is with many of the Seventies’ double albums. Quantity, variety, and pacing make it seem like a bigger deal. 

Maybe that’s why Bowie and Visconti struggled with the track list for a single LP that year – first proposing the 7-song “The Gouster” configuration, then releasing the 8-song “Young Americans,” each including tracks the other doesn’t. Neither strikes me as a balanced album; you need all of the combined tracks, plus some more.

Most of those additional, necessary tracks come from “David Live,” which documented a blurry transitional tour, in which Bowie began to sort out his soul-funk-disco moves, ahead of “The Gouster”/”Young Americans” sessions. It’s a good album – a good band and tour – but it delivered a mix of songs played straight (rock and roll) and songs played through the 1974, “American year” aesthetic. I pulled those latter tracks into this mix. 

Between Ziggy and The Thin White Duke, there was this guy.


  • Young Americans
  • The Gouster
  • David Live
  • Cracked Actor
  • Diamond Dogs
  • Bootleg

100-minute mp3 mix here

Side one: 
Somebody Up There Likes Me (TG) 
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (DL) 
Right (YA) 
Aladdin Sane (DL)
All the Young Dudes (DL)  

Side two: 
After Today (bootleg) 
Fascination (YA) 
Can You Hear Me (YA) 
Young Americans (TG) 
Watch That Man (DL)  

Side three: 
The Jean Genie (DL) 
It's Gonna Be Me (CA) 
John, I'm Only Dancing (Again) (TG) 
Fame (YA)  

Side four: 
1984 (DD) 
Across the Universe (alt mix) (bootleg)
Sweet Thing (DL) 
Knock on Wood (DL) 
Win (YA) 
Who Can I Be Now (TG)