Song of the Week – The Gouster samples, David Bowie


Rock and roll has a long history of albums recorded by big name acts that never saw release (except on bootlegs, of course). There was The Beach Boys’ SMiLE (but that’s now been released), The Who’s Lifehouse (though many of its songs came out on various other Who albums), The Kinks’ Four More Respected Gentlemen (most of which was released on The Village Green Preservation Society and The Kinks Kronikles) and Prince’s The Black Album (ultimately released 7 years after the originally planned release date). As you can tell, these recordings almost always eventually see the light of day.

But back in 1974-75, David Bowie was working on an album tentatively titled The Gouster. (If you want to know what a gouster is, check out this post at – Gouster or Ivy Leaguer?

The Gouster may have been Bowie’s prototype for the “Thin White Duke.”

It turns out, early in the sessions, Bowie recorded about five songs in the Philly soul style that was popular at the time that never made it onto the album that was ultimately released as Young Americans. Three of them were released on either the Sound + Vision boxed set on Rykodisc (1989) or as bonus cuts on the remastered release of Young Americans (2007). They were:

– John, I’m Only Dancing
– Who Can I Be Now?
– It’s Gonna Be Me

But there were two other songs that have never been released – “I Am a Lazer” and “Shilling the Rubes.”

We only have these snippets to hear for now. Where did they come from? In 2009 a reel of tape from the sessions came up on eBay for $15,000. The seller let us “sip out of the cup” in order to validate the tape’s authenticity. The speculation has always been that Bowie bought back the tape to prevent it from being exploited.

In any case, we only have these fragments to whet our appetite for full versions sometime in the future.

Enjoy… until next week.

One thought on “Song of the Week – The Gouster samples, David Bowie

  1. For those looking for clips of “The Gouster”, this provides a tantalizing glimpse of what Tony Visconti is about to release. This is more of a mix of what Bowie was doing during his “Hunky Dory” period, jumping to the inception of “Young Americans”. It features the piano smarts of Mike Garson, who lent his talent to so many of Bowie’s albums from “Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars” through the “Aladdinsane” album to the final cuts of “Young Americans”. -A. Rust

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