Never Let Me Down And Down (and Down…)

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BOWIE’S 1987 ALBUM….SUPER-DELUXED by AFDPJ.

Originally released by EMI America on April 21st 1987, Never Let Me Down continued the commercial decline of his post-Let’s Dance output and produced no genuine hit singles to speak of. To many, it epitomises everything that they feel was wrong about David Bowie’s music in the 1980s, and everything wrong about music in the 1980s full stop. The subsequent Glass Spider world tour (named after one of Never Let Me Down‘s tracks) only added to the general scorn and ridicule.

At its conclusion, Bowie had the entire set rather symbolically burned to the ground, and went off to form Tin Machine.

For an album so disliked at the time, and in the years since, it hasn’t been shunned like a Leather Jackets or a Landing On Water, cast into the out-of-print wilderness and treated as though it didn’t really exist. Perhaps because Bowie always felt the material itself was better than the finished product, or perhaps because it isn’t actually a bad album at all?

In 2018, as part of the Loving The Alien boxset covering Bowie’s 1983-1988 period, Never Let Me Down was given a new stripped-down remix, taking away the glossy production and dated trappings which so many cited as its weakness. Which is all very commendable and tasteful, and fits into the current vogue for making The Beatles sound like any other indie rock band (don’t get me started on what Giles Martin is doing with his remixes of Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road!), but I always liked the original and I still do.

In fact, I like it enough to have compiled a six…yes, six-disc “Super Deluxe Edition” of Never Let Me Down. It’s what the world was waiting for.

The basis for such an unnecessary challenging project formed a couple of years ago when I purchased all the digital EPs for Bowie’s singles from Blue Jean through to Fame 90. Those turned into mini “Extended Play” CDs for each era (“Tonight”, “1986 Film Soundtracks”, and so on). The Never Let Me Down period had its own, of course, hoovering up all the various mixes and B-sides from Day-In Day-Out, Time Will Crawl and the gorgeous title track.

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Everything just about fitted onto one disc, but once Loving The Alien came along, with the new 2018 version, the idea entered my head to go bigger. After all, I had multiple versions of Never Let Me Down on CD already; the 1987 edition I bought the day of release, plus a mid-90s reissue with 3 bonus tracks, and then the 1999 digital remaster as part of an entire catalogue reboot. Loving The Alien also boasted yet another mastering of the main album (minus Too Dizzy of course, as all incarnations of Never Let Me Down must now be). That’s a lot of different takes on the same thing.

Plenty, it transpired, to fill six CDs and create a Super Deluxe Edition. Yay.

Disc One
Never Let Me Down [Original 1987 Version]
Mastered By Bob Ludwig

  1. Day-In, Day-Out
  2. Time Will Crawl
  3. Beat On Your Drum
  4. Never Let Me Down
  5. Zeroes
  6. Glass Spider
  7. Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)
  8. New York’s In Love
  9. ’87 And Cry
  10. Too Dizzy
  11. Bang Bang

Simply the 1987 EMI America pressing, fully intact. Too Dizzy remains.

Disc Two
Never Let Me Down [The Alternate Edit]

  1. Day-In, Day-Out [Single Version]
  2. Time Will Crawl [Single Version]
  3. Beat On Your Drum [Vinyl Album Edit]
  4. Never Let Me Down [Single Remix Edit]
  5. Zeroes
  6. Girls [Non-Album B-Side Edit]
  7. Glass Spider [Vinyl Album Edit]
  8. Shining Star (Makin’ My Love) [Vinyl Album Edit]
  9. New York’s In Love [Vinyl Album Edit]
  10. ’87 And Cry [Vinyl Album Edit]
  11. Bang Bang [Vinyl Album Edit]
  12. Julie [Non-Album B-Side]

Here, we’ve made use of the Single mixes available on the digital EPs and also the slightly shorter versions of many songs which graced the vinyl format of the album in 1987 due to issues of space (and which were part of Loving The Alien). With the further addition of fantastic B-sides Girls and Julie at the end of each “side”, this is a kind of “Director’s Cut” take on Never Let Me Down. Only Zeroes is the same as on the standard/official album. There is no Too Dizzy.

Disc Three
Never Let Me Down [1999 Remaster]
Digitally Remastered At Abbey Road Studios

Disc Four
Never Let Me Down [2018 Master]
Remastered By Nigel Reeve & Peter Mew

The mid-90s release on Virgin Records used the same mastering as the original, so it’s not been awarded its own disc in this set.

Disc Five
Never Let Me Down [The Remixes & B-Sides]

  1. Day-In, Day-Out [Extended Dance Mix]
  2. Day-In, Day-Out [Groucho Mix]
  3. Day-In, Day-Out [Extended Dub Mix]
  4. Time Will Crawl [Extended Dance Mix]
  5. Time Will Crawl [Dub]
  6. Time Will Crawl [MM Remix]
  7. Time Will Crawl [Dance Crew Mix]
  8. Girls [Extended Edit]
  9. Never Let Me Down [Extended Dance Mix]
  10. Never Let Me Down [Dub/Acapella Mix]
  11. Shining Star (Makin’ My Love) [12″ Mix]
  12. Bang Bang [Live – Promotional Mix]

Courtesy of those digital EPs again, most of the album’s remixes are collected on this fifth disc, though a stray Dub Acapella may have had to be excluded due to time constraints.

Finally…

Disc Six
Never Let Me Down [2018 Remix]
New Added Instrumentation & Production
Overseen By David Richards and Mario J. McNulty

The much-lauded and discussed 2018 makeover with largely fresh arrangements replacing the bling and klang of 1987’s model.

And just to provide that final touch, a sleeve design to house it all in:

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(Well, you get the idea anyway).

Now I wonder how much demand there would be for such a set, if Parlophone were to make this fantasy a reality…..

 

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