12 Singles Disappointingly Omitted From David Bowie’s Nothing Has Changed

How do you sum up a 50-year recording career in a single release?  Well, if you’re David Bowie, you cram as many hit songs as you can fit onto three CDs.  That’s what happened last November when his ironically titled Nothing Has Changed debuted.

It’s not the first collection of famous Bowie songs but it is by far the most expansive.  All 59 tracks were released between the years 1964 and 2014.  Never before has a Bowie hits compilation featured material before 1969 and after 2002.

But, despite an admirable effort to represent as many eras as possible in a single compilation, it was inevitable that other equally worthy tracks would not make the cut.  Honestly, you could easily fill another 3 CDs with just the singles that were excluded.

Rather than listing all those missing songs, many of which can be found on earlier greatest hits albums, I just want to focus on 12 that really should’ve been added to Nothing Has Changed.  Matching the spirit of its extensive track listing, I present them in reverse chronological order:

1. The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell (Single Edit)

There were four singles issued from the Hours… album in 1999 & 2000, a surprising three of which (Thursday’s Child, Seven, Survive) ended up on disc one of Nothing Has Changed.  Disappointingly excluded was this Stooges-inspired rocker that has never been on a Bowie greatest hits package.  God knows there were numerous versions to choose from (including a couple from the awful Patricia Arquette horror film Stigmata) but I would’ve been perfectly happy with the four-minute single edit from Hours… It’s definitely preferable to the underwhelming Seven & Survive.

2. Dead Man Walking (Single Edit)

Little Wonder and the Trent Reznor remix of I’m Afraid Of Americans represent the underrated Earthling from 1997.  I would’ve added one more:  Dead Man Walking, Bowie’s frenetic jungle tribute to his old friends and collaborators Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.  Like The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell, it’s never been included on a Bowie collection.  The full album version is an epic seven minutes so the four-minute single edit would’ve been just fine on Nothing Has Changed.

3. Real Cool World

Bowie’s first original solo single of the 1990s was written & recorded for the terrible Ralph Bakshi live action/animation hybrid Cool World (which featured a very young Brad Pitt and a cartoon Kim Basinger).  Aside from appearing on the soundtrack and as a stand alone CD single, its only appearance on a Bowie release happened in 2003 when it was added to the list of bonus tracks found on disc two of the 10th Anniversary edition of Black Tie White Noise.  Considering the fact that it reignited Bowie’s solo career after his short stint fronting Tin Machine (which is completely ignored on Nothing Has Changed) it would’ve been nice to have it along with all these other hits.

4. Never Let Me Down

Bowie’s tribute to his longtime assistant was his last Top 40 success in America.  Rarely included in hits packages, it was passed over for The Best Of David Bowie 1980-1987 while Day In, Day Out & Time Will Crawl made the cut.  The iSelect remix of Time Will Crawl is the only representative of the unloved Never Let Me Down album to make the Nothing Has Changed collection.  Considering the commercial significance of Never Let Me Down, the title track shouldn’t have been passed over here.

5. DJ (Single Edit)

Probably due to space considerations, Bowie’s fertile, deeply influential late 70s experimentalism is limited to three songs from three albums at the end of disc two on Nothing Has Changed:  Sound & Vision (from Low), the single edit of Heroes (from the album of the same name) and Boys Keep Swinging (from Lodger).  Most of the other singles from these seminal discs were collected on The Best Of David Bowie 1974-1979 including the full version of DJ from Lodger.  But the single edit of that song rarely appears on a Bowie compilation.  In the vinyl era, it was a part of ChangesTwoBowie in 1981.  22 years later, it was on Bowie The Singles Collection 1969-1993, the double-CD Rykodisc collection.  As far as Nothing Has Changed is concerned it should’ve been a part of disc two.

6. Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy (w/ Bing Crosby)

It is the greatest modern Christmas song of all time and yet, curiously, it has only been on one past Bowie hits collection:  the aforementioned Rykodisc release, Bowie The Singles Collection 1969-1993, but only in a limited sense.  It was included as a bonus on just the first 40000 copies.  Yes, it is available as a CD single and is on countless Christmas compilations but if Under Pressure, Bowie’s much loved collaboration with Queen, can make the cut, why not this classic, as well?

7. TVC15 (Single Edit)

Station To Station is ably represented by the single version of Golden Years and the excellent 2010 mix of Wild Is The Wind on Nothing Has Changed.  But it would’ve been great to have TVC15 here, as well.  Supposedly inspired by one of Iggy Pop’s girlfriends getting eaten by a Television while high on something, it was a pivotal single for Bowie who was transitioning at the time from R&B soul music to European electronica.  Although the single edit was previously included on The Best Of David Bowie 1974-1979, its exclusion from Nothing Has Changed is still disappointing.  If it was up to me, I would’ve made room for it.

8. Fame (Single Edit)

Everybody knows the story about Bowie’s first number one in America.  It arose out of a conversation with John Lennon about the nature of celebrity and quickly developed into a last-minute addition to Young Americans.  Everybody knows the full album version which was released as a single in Britain and has been on almost every Bowie hits collection including Nothing Has Changed.  But few today have heard the American single edit which trimmed 45 seconds off the album version (and served as the template for the 1990 single remix).  It was this three and a half minute mix that topped the Billboard Hot 100 40 years ago.  After previously appearing on ChangesOneBowie and K-Tel’s Best Of Bowie, both vinyl releases, it has only made one appearance on CD.  You can find it on disc five of the Have A Nice Decade box set.  Not having this rare, shorter version of Fame on Nothing Has Changed is a hugely missed opportunity.

9. Time (Single Edit)

Pianist Mike Garson played a major role on the Aladdin Sane album with his endlessly spirited tinkling, most especially on one particularly cheeky track.  While The Jean Genie & Drive-In Saturday are on disc three of Nothing Has Changed there was no love for the aforementioned Time.  It was sadly left off the collection.  Famous for its drug references and brief mention of “wanking”, it’s something of a forgotten single.  The 7″ version is about 90 seconds shorter than the album cut and has never appeared on a Bowie hits release.  In fact, the only time the three and a half minute single ever appeared on CD was as a bonus cut on disc two of the 30th Anniversary edition of Aladdin Sane which was released in 2003.  It would’ve been a welcome surprise on Nothing Has Changed.

10. Suffragette City

One of the most famous songs from the Ziggy Stardust album was shockingly rejected for Nothing Has Changed.  The title cut is here.  So is the original single mix of Starman (Bowie’s second big hit in Britain) and album track Moonage Daydream.  But no Suffragette City.  Yes, it’s on so many past Bowie hits collections but quite frankly, it should’ve been included on Nothing Has Changed, as well.  It’s one of his most significant songs.

11. Holy Holy (original 1970 single)

According to Wikipedia, there are 110 official Bowie singles.  Only one has never been released on CD:  the original Holy Holy.  In 1970, besides releasing The Man Who Sold The World album, Bowie issued two non-album singles.  The original version of The Prettiest Star (which features T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan on guitar) has since been a part of the Sound + Vision box set and The Best Of David Bowie 1969-1974.  But Holy Holy was only released once as a 45.  When Rykodisc were compiling bonus tracks for the 1990 reissue of The Man Who Sold The World they were hoping to include it.  Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, Bowie wouldn’t allow it.  Instead, they added the re-recorded, faster version which was rejected for Ziggy Stardust (it’s also on the bonus disc of the 30th Anniversary edition of Ziggy) and later became the B-Side to Diamond Dogs.  How awesome would it have been to include the original three-minute version on Nothing Has Changed?  Talk about a blown historic moment.

12. The Laughing Gnome

Two years before he would hit it big with Space Oddity, a desperate young Bowie thought this novelty number was his ticket to fame.  It wasn’t.  But six years later, at the height of Ziggy mania in 1973, it was reissued and, much to his utter embarrassment, became a Top 10 hit in the UK.  Clearly, it had no chance of making Nothing Has Changed.  Bowie is not exactly proud of the song.  That said, why couldn’t he have a sense of humour about the whole thing and just put it in the collection anyway?  Oh well.  For those who’ve never experienced The Laughing Gnome, the good news is you can find it on the 2010 reissue of the first David Bowie album.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
1:57 a.m.

Published in: on April 22, 2015 at 1:57 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] Let’s shift gears now to music.  I’m a major supporter of David Bowie who has been remarkably busy with new projects the last couple of years after keeping a mostly low profile the last decade or so.  (Look for Blackstar, his newest album, on January 8.)  Last Christmas, I got the 3CD version of his most recent greatest hits package Nothing Has Changed from my parents.  Although generally excellent, I was disappointed it excluded some key singles which inspired the appropriately titled 12 Singles Disappointingly Omitted From David Bowie’s Nothing Has Changed. […]

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