On Jan. 14, 1977, David Bowie released the song “A New Career in a New Town,” an upbeat instrumental piece about his move from the U.S. to Europe. Forty years later, on Sept. 29, 2017, a box set of the same name has been released. Following the success of two previous sets, “Five Years” (works from 1969 to 1973) and “Who Can I Be Now?” (works from 1974 to 1976), the “A New Career in a New Town” set covers Bowie’s artistic and experimental period in Berlin from 1977 to 1982.
Bowie’s settlement in Berlin was no random act. He is quoted as calling Berlin “the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.” Overwhelmed by the Los Angeles drug scene of the 70s, he was determined to relocate and refocus on the art. In Berlin, Bowie recorded three albums, “Low,” “Heroes” and “Lodger,” which are now referred to as the “Berlin Trilogy.” The music of this era is distinguished by sporadic lyrics weaved within ambient instrumental interludes, and is considered by many to be one of the most interesting periods for Bowie’s work. Even people who don’t claim to be familiar with Bowie know the anthem “Heroes,” the title track for the second album of the trilogy, which has been used in everything from “The Simpsons” to “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”.
Beyond the remastered Berlin Triology, this box set includes in total 11 CDs. The items exclusive to the set include a 2017 Tony Visconti (friend and long-time producer of Bowie’s) mix of “Lodgers,” a “Heroes” E.P. that includes the French and German versions of the hit single and “Re:Call 3,” a collection of non-album singles, single versions and b-sides. As for what to expect from the box set’s remastered tracks: the sound is cleaner, the instruments are emphasized, but the same Bowie spirit still prevails, likely because he was able to approve many of the mixes before his death.
The box set, while rich in music, still doesn’t seem to warrant its price tag. Varying between $100 and $200, depending on the source and type (the set is offered as CD Vinyl or digital download), it won’t likely become a household staple. That being said, avid Bowie fans may find the revitalized tracks and exclusive content, including a 128 page hardback book with previously unpublished photos and personal backstage stories from Tony Visconti, worth the splurge.
When Bowie passed away in 2016, it started a worldwide conversation about his influence and innovation over the years. “A New Career in a New Town” showcases the true talent that was lost, and serves as a friendly reminder that Bowie’s legacy will never disappear.