The best versions for each David Bowie album?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Haristar, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. Haristar

    Haristar Apollo C. Vermouth Thread Starter

    Southampton, UK
    I'm quite the beginner when it comes to collecting physical music (I'm a millenial and most of my music listening comes from streaming :D) and I'm planning on collecting all of David Bowie's albums in both CD form and in record form.

    However I'm not quite sure what are the best versions for each album and this where I'm asking for your help. There's two factors I want to take into consideration here: Best sound quality, and best bonus tracks.

    Here's my modest collection so far:

    Aladdin Sane [2015 reissue]
    Station to Station [1976 US original]
    Lodger [1979 original]
    Let's Dance [1983 original]

    Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) [1999 remaster]
    Blackstar [2016 original]
    Nothing Has Changed [2014 deluxe version]
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  2. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Vinyl UK
    CD west Germany /Japan
  3. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    Use the "search" function
  4. footprintsinthesand

    footprintsinthesand Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 1

    Haren, DM
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  5. Paul Saldana

    Paul Saldana jazz vinyl addict

    The Ryko US Virgin UK CDs with the bonus tracks are well worth having for the rarities. In some cases those rarities are better than anything on the album proper. Say what you will about the mastering, but they are in no way "loud".
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  6. kaztor

    kaztor Forum Resident

    Oooh boy....

    Plenty of threads discussing this...

    My Bowie collection is a balance of what I think sounds good and what I think adds to the collection (think 1991 EMI's, RCA's in some cases).

    All I can tell you now, in my limited amount of time, is that there are much better options for Scary Monsters, imo.

    More later...
  7. kaztor

    kaztor Forum Resident

    You probably mean Ryko/EMI's (the 1991 EMI's I was referring to).
    Now, 1999 Virgin/EMI's, that's another story... :thumbsdow

    When I'm back home I'll list what I've got (which is pretty much how I like 'em).
  8. NightGoatToCairo

    NightGoatToCairo Forum Resident

    Hampshire, UK
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  9. cmcintyre

    cmcintyre Forum Resident

    Of those, I'd look at replacing Aladdin Sane - it's very compressed.

    If you're going down the second hand LP path - it's a matter of finding the original editions in best condition possible - Original catalogue numbered US sealed copies are your safest way for the RCA years. In most cases, and certainly post 1974, these are the first use of the master tape. The post 82 EMI years are relatively easy to find second hand in good condition I find, after that (post Tin Machine) it's trickier.

    If you already use tone controls ( and perhaps a graphic equaliser) then the 1989.90.91 series of RYKO/EMI will give you the best bonus tracks as well as good sound, only compromised by the necessary use of those tone controls though. IF you choose that path, choose the CDs as they don't contain rumble and other vinyl sounds that also will be boosted along with the bass. As they're not very favoured, you will probably be able to pick them up at a reasonable cost.

    The recent Parlophone reissues I'd generally avoid, though whilst some are better than others, they're a very mixed and compromised set of releases. Search "karmaman", Bowie and Parlophone.

    The 1999 EMI series and their reissues have noise reduction processing applied - generally not a good thing as it can remove the ambience in the recordings making them sound dead and lifeless.
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  10. stef1205

    stef1205 Forum Resident

    Avoid the 1999 digital remasters. The Parlophone remasters that recently came out are good (some people say even better than the RCA versions) with some exceptions. Use the search function.
    sound chaser and Mikewest like this.
  11. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    Loving the newer remasters to death. Yesterday I played Space Oddity a couple times, today it's Man Who Sold the World. Fantastic.

    The "best" really needs defining, imo. Will you enjoy an RCA Space Oddity ten times more than the new remaster? For me - no. I remain hopeful that in the coming decade we'll get a reissue of hi-def discs with 5.1 surrounds included, Bowie deserves it.
  12. karmaman

    karmaman Forum Resident

    put your Aladdin Sane vinyl and Scary Monsters CD in the trade pile, they're the worst options. the rest you're set with.
    don't waste your money on any of the '99 masters (which are still in print for titles post-Station To Station).
    the thread kindly mentioned above will give you MY opinion on the best CD options for Bowie (where there is one).
    there are supporters of every issue of Bowie's catalogue, so don't go chasing my sometimes expensive options if you happen to like the '90, '99 or '15/'16 masters.

    vinyl is less easy to make recommendations without having access to every pressing, but in most cases you can safely hunt for original UK and US releases for all RCA and EMI titles.
    get the current "we are vinyl" edition of Heathen. great sound, good price. Reality will get a similar release shortly so wait for that and don't waste money on pricey coloured vinyl issues.
    i'd advise against the Ryko vinyl (again this has supporters here).
    i'd also advise against the current remasters except The Man Who Sold The World, Ziggy and Pin Ups. you should probably grab the current Hunky Dory (black or gold, same plates) while prices are low. it has issues but these are more likely to concern long-time fans who know every detail.

    a bit vague but it's a start.
  13. kaztor

    kaztor Forum Resident

    Ok, here we go...

    My Bowie collection, largely based upon recommendations on this forum (special thanks to Karmaman):

    David Bowie ('67) 2009 Universal Deluxe 2CD
    David Bowie ('69) 2009 EMI Deluxe 2CD
    The Man Who Sold The World 1990 EMI (w/ bonus tracks)
    Hunky Dory 1990 EMI (w/ bonus tracks)
    TR&FO Ziggy Stardust... 1996 Ryko Au20 (w/ bonus tracks)
    Aladdin Sane 1984 RCA JPN-for-US (CSR)
    Pinups 1990 EMI (w/ bonus tracks)
    Diamond Dogs 1990 EMI (w/ bonus tracks)
    David Live 2005 EMI 2CD
    Young Americans 1984 RCA WG *
    Station To Station 1984 RCA WG
    Low 1991 EMI (w/ bonus tracks)
    "Heroes" 1991 EMI (w/ bonus tracks)
    Peter & The Wolf RCA Red Seal JPN-for-US
    Stage 2005 EMI 2CD
    Lodger 1991 EMI (w/ bonus tracks)
    Scary Monsters... 1992 EMI (w/ bonus tracks)
    Let's Dance 1983 EMI America JPN Black Triangle
    Ziggy Stardust Sndtrk 2003 EMI 2CD
    Tonight 1984 EMI America JPN-for-US Blueface
    Labyrinth Sndtrk 1986 EMI America UK
    Never Let Me Down 1987 EMI America JPN Black Triangle
    Tin Machine 1989 EMI USA UK

    * The Ryko/EMI CD's of Young Americans uses incorrect mixes for some songs, so the RCA WG was an easy choice for me.

    From here on I suspect masterings get non-specific, so I'll fly through it:

    Tin Machine II 1991
    Black Tie, White Noise 1993
    The Buddah Of Suburbia 1997 reissue
    Outside Deluxe 2007
    Earthling Deluxe 2007
    ...Hours... Deluxe 2007 1999
    Bowie At The Beeb Ltd 3CD 2000
    Heathen Deluxe 2007
    Reality Deluxe 2007
    Live Santa Monica '72 2008
    VH1 Storytellers 2009
    A Reality Tour 2009
    The Next Day Extra 2013
    Blackstar 2016


    ChangesOneBowie 1984 RCA JPN-for-US
    ChangesTwoBowie 1984 RCA JPN-for-US
    Golden Years 1984 RCA JPN-for-US
    Fame & Fashion 1984 RCA JPN-for-US
    Sound + Vision 1984 Rykodisc 4CD Box 1989 (I burned 2 extra cd's for the extra 2003-edition songs and other oddities)
    ChangesBowie 1990
    Early On (1964-1966) 1991 - A MUST-HAVE!!!
    Singles Collection 1993 2CD
    RarestOneBowie 1995
    All Saints (Collected Instrumentals 1977 - 1999) 1999
    Best Of Bowie US edition, 1cd with an extra mixes disc (I think) 2002
    The Platinum Collection 2005 3CD
    Nothing Has Changed 2014 3CD
    Legacy 2CD 2016

    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
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  14. rjp

    rjp Senior Member

    i have said this before and i will reiterate: the best version of any media that requires sound is the one that sounds the best to your one, i repeat, no one on earth can tell YOU what sounds best to YOU. only YOU can do that.

    as bowie, there are many who dislike the sound of the ryko bowie CD's, many. however, with the ryko CD's you get something that the RCA and virgin CD's cannot ever give you and that is the bonus tracks. and some of the Cd's have some very excellent and quite few bonus tracks. getting this extra music far outweighs what very small differences in sound (to my ears anyway) that might get with the other 2 labels, and if you can possibly find the 8 gold ryko CD's i think you will be very pleased with what you hear.

    if you are really and truly serious about this try one of each, you should be able to find them all used (other than the gold) get the same disc on all 3 labels and then decide with your own ears
  15. kaztor

    kaztor Forum Resident

    I totally understand your point of view, but having owned almost all of the 1999 EMI's (/Virgin's), it's safe to say that's a no-go area. No-noised to death, resulting in a very artificial presentation. It's like watching the Mona Lisa through a Commodore 64 console.
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  16. karmaman

    karmaman Forum Resident

    several Ryko bonus tracks have since been made available on Special Editions and some from better sources, so it's not wise to simply buy the Rykos for this reason. research is important.
    this would be a costly mistake IMO. the gold discs are mastered louder (with peak limiting throughout) and brighter than the standard Rykos.
    i'd assume most can be found lossless online for free if sampling is all that is required. or ask your friendly forum bowie "experts" to provide samples. to buy the same albums three times just to decide which you prefer is a bit of a luxury, especially when the RCAs are part of the equation.
  17. rjp

    rjp Senior Member

    respectfully disagree on the ryko AU20's (gold) i only have 'ziggy", i only wish i had bought the other 7 :( it is the best sounding 'ziggy' i have ever heard.
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  18. karmaman

    karmaman Forum Resident

    you disagree that they're louder and brighter than the standard rykos? then you're mistaken as it wasn't a subjective claim. i don't expect to alter your opinion, but the Ryko Au20 was my least favourite in a shootout of eight digital editions of Ziggy Stardust. you're very welcome to respectfully disagree with me on that.
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  19. rjp

    rjp Senior Member


    then we shall agree to disagree
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  20. kaztor

    kaztor Forum Resident

    I agree on the RCA remark above. Same reason why I purchased a moderate amount: different priorities in life (lovely wife, 2 kids) and combined they cost you an arm and a leg. 1991 EMI's serve as great, cheaper alternatives.
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  21. karmaman

    karmaman Forum Resident

    priorities aside you really should see about upgrading some of those Rykos. i don't have kids but presumably they can skip a few meals from time to time ;)
  22. kaztor

    kaztor Forum Resident

    Except for the Au20 Ziggy I've got the bass-boosted EMI equivalents. My Ryko Sound + Vision box sounds relatively shrill compared to those.
  23. Tim Bexter

    Tim Bexter Well-Known Member

    How About Station To Station? is it better than original cd or 1999, Ryko?
  24. MHP

    MHP Forum Resident

    I would like advice on Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory and Young Americans.
    The 2012 vinyl of Ziggy is great and that the US original Station To Station is perfect.
    Then UK originals for Aladdin Sane, Pin-Up's, Diamond Dogs, Low, "Heroes", Lodger and Scary Monsters.
    So what about the first mentioned??? Any great pressings?
  25. karmaman

    karmaman Forum Resident

    for Space Oddity i like the Mercury US (aka Man of Words, Man of Music) and the '72 Ziggy cover RCAs but these are hard to find clean for some reason.

    assuming cost is an issue, you could do a lot worse than the current master for The Man Who Sold The World, although i'd go for a 1972 "kick cover" RCA if you see one for a good price.
    UK, US, Australian (uses US stampers), or Japanese all great if clean.

    i personally like the Japanese Hunky Dory although i've yet to hear a bad pressing of this album. however, by the late '70s tape damage had crept in, so the earlier the better.
    i'd personally avoid the parlophone due to tape deterioration and (IMO only it seems) intrusive mastering choices, namely the removal of some inherent noises and the fade out of the outro to Life On Mars?

    i really like the UK Young Americans which is unlike any digital edition, very warm and full sounding. avoid the Japanese here, it's hard and bright.
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