Stranger's Guide
to collecting David Bowie

I appreciate some of this 'advice' is common sense/knowledge, however those of you just starting to collect David Bowie, or collect Bowie items you have not collected before may find something of use here!


Most of David Bowie's catalogue is available on CD, hence buying vinyl can either help fill the gaps, or maybe you prefer the 'vinyl sound'. Personally I am happy to listen to Bowie on CD, but Hunky Dory for example is quite pleasant on vinyl - note the original British and American editions sound slightly different - the latter more bassy, and in its own way just as good.

I am not a vinyl expert though, so I will stick to basic advice from my own experience.

I have found Low on vinyl - an original pressing - to have a better sound (in my opinion) than the CD editions - at least on my favourite tracks Sound and Vision, Always Crashing In The Same Car and Be My Wife, which sound wonderful in this format.

It is worth comparing the sound of different tracks on different formats - vinyl, Ryko / EMI CD (early 90's), EMI CD (late 90's), if you are so inclined. You might be surprised at the subtle differences in the sound, and that new is not necessarily always better. However, personally I have found that each edition has its strengths. For example the new Ziggy Stardust 2CD 30th Anniversary release has the best sounding John I'm Only Dancing yet.

If you are new to Bowie, you may not know that the early 90's versions of his albums featured extra tracks, unlike the current editions of his albums in the shops. Some of these extra tracks have re-emerged on compilations, others are lost for the time being. This is unfortunate, as many are very good indeed. We all hope some more archive material will emerge in time...

Some 'vinyl only' items include...

Arnold Corns 12" (on the Krazy Kat label, released mid 80's).
Contains Man In The Middle, Looking For A Friend and Hang Onto Yourself.
The first two are not available on CD officially, a shame as LFAF is brilliant!
Hang Onto Yourself is in enhanced stereo, unlike on official CDs - some may dislike this, but I actually quite like it in this form.

The Jean Genie (single mix)
The original single, or the RCA Lifetimes series from around 1984. The latter features a nice Aladdin sleeve (based on the picture from inside the vinyl album's gatefold if I recall correctly), and has a brighter sound than the original single but is unfortunately not so easy to find nowadays.
The original single is not that hard to find, some might argue the sound is more authentic, but good luck trying to find this popular song/single in mint condition!

His Master's Voice
Classic bootleg of the final Ziggy Stardust show from the Hammersmith Odeon 3/7/73. Officially released/ruined on 1983 RCA issue of Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture (film/video/2LP), due to a horrendous mix, overdubbed backing vocals etc. As for the genuine article, the 'HMV' LP, on early pressings, has better sound than CD represses, and on first signs the forthcoming DVD may not beat this.

Sorrow - the single is rumoured to be remixed. I think I listened once, but could not notice. Perhaps sharper eared listeners might be able to tell.

Rebel Rebel (single mix)
The original single, or the RCA Lifetimes series from around 1984. The latter features a Ziggy in the telephone box picture (i.e. from the back of the Ziggy Stardust album), similar comments apply to this and The Jean Genie single.

Panic In Detroit (live Tower Philadelphia '74)
This appears on the B-side of Knock On Wood, and on the album Rare.
A superb track inexplicably left off the David Live album - it's one of the best live tracks from that year.

The nature of singles dictates that even if the sound were technically better on the 7", most 7" singles from the Seventies are likely to be a bit scratchy when played, so I would recommend picking up Rare - should not be too hard to find in excellent condition for about £5-£8.

For years the original singles of Let's Dance and China Girl were the only place to find the true 7" edits, botched edits being featured on ChangesBowie and The Singles Collection/Greatest Hits 2CD sets. On the new Best Of Bowie CD and DVD the correct edits have been used, at last, thankfully!


Don't assume that because a rare track has been released officially the official version is necessarily the definitive version. A great example is Bombers, All The Young Dudes and 1984/Dodo. In each case the officially released version differs in the mix - in each case to the tracks detriment in my opinion.

Similarly, just because a (bootleg) concert made it to vinyl, CD or even CD-R, does not automatically mean it will be better than a concert that has not. So picking a well-known bootleg from each tour does not mean it will be the best quality one. Of course opinion on bootlegs vary - the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. At times, when a person I have swapped with, traded or bought from has been agreeable, I have asked for samples of the shows they have that interest me as part of a swap or purchase, to help me decide on further items. Once more sorry if this is just old hat/common sense to more experienced collectors.

The Concert Tapes book by Pimm Jal de La Parra is a good guide to Bowie concert recordings up to and including 1983, even if some of the shows have emerged in better quality since. There are guides to Bowie concert recordings on the web here and there too.


First of all, tread carefully when any item is described as 'rare'. Technically it might not be available in the shops now, but unfortunately for the seller that will sometimes be because it has been succeeded by something better and less expensive (for instance Bowie video's which near appear on the new Best Of Bowie DVD).

While some collectors might want to collect such artefacts, if you are in any doubt as to whether an item is no longer available in any form, check with a retailer, or ask on the BowieWonderworld forum, people tend to be helpful and genial here, in my experience.

When buying off eBay take a seller's description of a record being 'mint' with a pinch of salt!

Have they indicated that they have actually played the record, and heard that it is mint?

Look at their feedback - one seller had feedback praising him for describing the condition of his records accurately, which inspired confidence when I bid for an item he was selling. Find Bowie items on eBay


The Deram Anthology CD (currently available) includes most of the Deram material, bar the stereo version of In The Heat Of The Morning.

The stereo version of In The Heat Of The Morning is on the deleted Collection CD (also 2LP - the latter features great pics in the gatefold), on the Castle label.

More early stuff is as follows...

The '69 Tapes CD contained the outtakes recorded with The Riot Squad -
Waiting For My Man and Little Toy Soldier - both in superb quality stereo.

Love You Til Tuesday CD on Pickwick contained -
     When I'm Five
     Love You Til Tuesday (single version)
     Ching A Ling (different mix to Deram Anthology)
     Space Oddity (longer version)

The Forgotten Songs Of David Robert Jones bootleg CD contained -
     When I Live My Dream (first try out)
     When I Live My Dream (original 7" mix)
     London Bye Ta Ta (Decca single version, from 'In The Heat Of The Morning' single acetate).

I hope this information is of some use to some of you.