From the amazing, soulful hit of “Young Americans,” way back in 1975, to scattered commercial usage of the song, and a full-length play at the ends of Lars Von Trier’s trilogy that began with Dogville, (no, I haven’t seen the final installment, but, since it featured wonderfully over a montage of photos in the end credits of the first two, I assume that it will feature in the final film as well,) David Bowie’s turn of style, once again, alerted an audience to his talented ability to experiment successfully. Putting away the glam elements, Bowie created a soulful wonder with his album after Diamond Dogs, surprising many. But Young Americans was quite good with its Soul and R&B that many went with the flow, following him into Station to Station and then into the magnificent experiments of Low, Heroes, and Lodger.
Fans of David Bowie and Young Americans do not need me to tell them of its merits and listenable content. But for those who never followed after Diamond Dogs, this IS a good time to explore David Bowie’s talent further. Virgin has released a remastered version with extras that include a DVD that runs approximately 83 minutes with four separate contents that includes 5.1 DVD album audio mixes for those that need to hear this in that style. Additionally, the Stereo mixes, while PCM, are clarified at 48 kHz at 24bits. The Stereo tracks are very good and worth the cost of this album. The 5.1 tracks were mixed by Visconti but are not superior. I admit to preferring Stereo over 5.1 tracks especially in the case of bands that envisioned their original recordings in stereo in the first place. Thus, 5.1 tracks are immaterial to me and very subjective for others.
The DVD’s Cavett material is Bowie’s performances of “1984” and “Young Americans” along with a Cavett interview with a noticeably nervous Bowie as they trudge through topics. Eventually Bowie opens up and offers more than the brief answers supplied at the beginning. The video clarity is quite good. Overall, you’ll find value with the DVD add to the overall Deluxe Edition of this masterful recording. And I really like the menu of the DVD with the changing shadings of Bowie’s Young American album photo.
The CD – as well as the upgraded audio tracks found on the DVD – contains 3 bonus tracks. “John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)” is a rework of the earlier original track. It is a disco-styled track that will either sit well with you…or not, depending on your tolerance. It’s followed by “Who Can I Be Now?” and a gospel-flavored “It’s Gonna Be Me (With Strings).” The remaining two bonus songs are good with the last song the best of the three, especially with that sweet sax.
The booklet is a great, 20-page affair that includes fantastic remembrances of the architecture of this album from idea to completion. It appreciates participants, recording procedures, and ‘first listen’ encounters. There are photos from the period including single cover shots from various countries.
Does this Special Edition fit well with our vision of definitive album reissues? Yes, it does. Of course, we mourn the passing of MLP DVD-Audio but we don’t complain because, well, it’s gone. Why bitch?! What we’re presented here with the Special Edition of Young Americans helps to complete a fantastic Bowie catalogue. We emphatically recommend it, especially if you’re a driven completist.