The latest in a line of many David Bowie compilations is Nothing Has Changed, which you can buy in a 2-CD version (which contains all the hits) or a 3-CD deluxe version, which digs a little deeper into Bowie’s extensive back catalogue. If you just want the well-known songs, then maybe go for the 2-CD set, but you will be missing out on a lot of great music, so I would suggest giving the deluxe set a try.
The 3-CD collection opens with a track recorded specifically for this new collection with long-term collaborator, Tony Visconti. “Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime),” a 7-minute, heavily jazz-infused piece, is unlike anything Bowie has recorded before.
The set is sequenced in reverse chronological order, which works surprisingly well. Bowie’s 24th studio album, The Next Day, is represented on this compilation with the reflective, “Where Are We Now?”, the addictive “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” and the James Murphy (former LCD Soundsystem frontman) “Ashes to Ashes”-referencing mix of “Love Is Lost.”
The Reality and Heathen albums are well represented on disc 1, along with three tracks (“Let Me Sleep Beside You,” “Your Turn to Drive” and “Shadow Man”) from the as-yet unreleased Bowie album, Toy. The first disc ends with late 90s Bowie, including a radio edit of “I’m Afraid of Americans.”
The second disc opens with three underrated Bowie tracks – the title track from the album (and TV series), The Buddha of Suburbia, and “Jump They Say” from 1993 are followed by the pick of the trio, the 2008 Mario J. McNulty remix of “Time Will Crawl.” “Time Will Crawl” is one of my favorite Bowie songs, though it was originally included on my *least* favorite Bowie album, Never Let Me Down.
The middle section of disc 2 is set firmly in the 80s. “Absolute Beginners,” “Loving the Alien,” and “This Is Not America” prove that the period often referred to as Bowie’s lost decade was not all bad. Let’s Dance has the three massive singles from the album included on disc 2 of the deluxe edition of Nothing Has Changed. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) supplies three songs, including “Ashes to Ashes,” a track that helped shape the sounds and styles of the 80s.
We are then tipped head-first into my favorite Bowie period, the Berlin Trilogy of Low, “Heroes”, and Lodger. If I’m being fussy, I would have preferred to see “DJ” from 1979’s Lodger album being included instead of the cheesy “Dancing In The Street” duet with Mick Jagger, but I’m happy “Boys Keep Swinging” makes its way onto the collection. The album compilers could have chosen so many great songs from this fertile period in Bowie’s history. If it were down to me, Nothing Has Changed would have been at least 6 CDs, not 3. Disc 2 ends with a 2010 mix of the sublime “Wild is the Wind,” a Bowie standard and one of his finest vocal performances.
The final disc in this deluxe edition covers the mid-70s Young Americans period through to the mid-60s Mod-era Bowie, when he was first finding his voice. On the early part of this journey, we are treated to the funk and soul of “Fame” and the title track of Young Americans, the futuristic paranoia of “Diamond Dogs” and a song driven by one of the finest riffs in the history of rock, “Rebel Rebel.” Hot tramp, I love you so!
The 50s-sounding, USA culture-influenced “Drive-In Saturday” is one of the greatest singles from the glam-rock era. It’s a treat hearing Bowie’s version of “All The Young Dudes” on Nothing Has Changed. The version included here is a previously unreleased shorter stereo cut of the track that was first made famous by Mott the Hoople in 1972.
“The Jean Genie” still sounds fresh 42 years – yes 42 years – after it was first recorded. “Starman,” the track that launched a thousand pop careers when Bowie performed the song on the legendary British TV show Top of the Pops in 1972, sits in the middle of disc 2. I never tire of hearing “Life on Mars?” – a song that took on a new lease of life in a recent episode of America Horror Story and featured heavily in the UK and US version of the cult classic TV series named after the Bowie song.
“The Man Who Sold The World” and Bowie’s first UK no. 1 single (and his first US hit), “Space Oddity,” precede the final 5 tracks on the collection, all of which are from Bowie’s pre-fame, 1960s singles, and albums. There have been nearly 30 Bowie compilations over the years, and this new collection feels like the most complete and most successful one so far. The album covers all periods of Bowie’s career, and while there will always be omissions that lifelong fans feel should have been included, Nothing Has Changed includes the hits and a decent smattering of rarities that should keep both the diehards and the inquisitive satisfied.