Prior to his death, David Bowie prepared a number of posthumous releases for the coming years. Today bring one such release, a new box set dubbed Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976), which includes an unreleased album called The Gouster.
The Gouster was recorded amidst Bowie’s “plastic soul”-era in 1974, during which time he embraced elements of funk, R&B, and soul music. The album begins with a re-recorded version of “John, I’m Only Dancing” and also includes tracks such as “Young Americans”, “Somebody Up There Likes Me”, and “Can You Hear Me?”. While The Gouster never saw release, several albums tracks were reconfigured and released on 1975’s Young Americans.
Now, for the first time, fans can stream The Gouster in full as part of the What Can I Be Now? box set. The full compilation is streaming below via Spotify; specifically, The Gouster begins at track No. 50.
The Gouster Tracklist:
01. John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)
02. Somebody Up There Likes Me
03. It’s Gonna Be Me
04. Who Can I Be Now?
05. Can You Hear Me
06. Young Americans
In the box set’s accompanying liner notes, Bowie’s longtime producer Tony Visconti spoke extensively on the unreleased album.
“Gouster was a word unfamiliar to me but David knew it as a type of dress code worn by African American teens in the ‘60’s, in Chicago. But in the context of the album its meaning was attitude, an attitude of pride and hipness. Of all the songs we cut we were enamored of the ones we chose for the album that portrayed this attitude.
David had a long infatuation with soul as did I. We were fans of the TV show Soul Train. We weren’t ‘young, gifted and black’ but we sure as hell wanted to make a killer soul album, which was quite insane, but pioneers like the Righteous Brothers were there before us.
So The Gouster began with the outrageous brand new, funkafied version of David’s classic ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’, a single he wrote and recorded in 1972, only this time our version sounded like it was played live in a loft party in Harlem and he added (Again) to the title. It wasn’t the two and a half minute length of the original either.
We maxed out at virtually seven minutes! With the time limitations of vinyl (big volume drop with more than 18 minutes a side) we could only fit two other long songs on side one, ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ and ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ both about six and a half minute songs. We had hit the twenty-minute mark. Technically that worked because ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ had lots of quiet sections where the record groove could be safely made narrower and that would preserve the apparent loudness of side one.
Side two also hit the twenty-minute mark with ‘Can You Hear Me’ saving the day with its quiet passages. Forty minutes of glorious funk, that’s what it was and that’s how I thought it would be.”