REVIEW OF TOYS: Oddities from David Bowie’s pre-fame days

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REVIEW: Oddities from David Bowie’s pre-fame career.

On his album VH1 Storytellers, David Bowie performed Can’t Help Thinking About Me live for the first time in 30 years.

It was so well received that the legendary singer decided to re-record forgotten gems from his early years, the mid to late 1960s.

Toy, his well-known 2001 “lost album,” was the result.

Bowie, who would have turned 75 tomorrow, mixed new takes on old songs with some brand-new material, but the album was never released.

He blamed his label, but it’s equally likely that David had a change of heart.

After all, he was a self-described “chameleon, comedian, Corinthian, and caricature” who was constantly experimenting with musical direction and public image.

But Can’t Help Thinking About Me, a 1966 single by David Bowie and The Lower Third, sounded better in the 60s mod pop era than it does in this overproduced 2001 remake.

The London Boys, an evocative ballad about pill-popping adolescent mods in Soho, is similar.

The haunting, unsettling song was produced by Tony ‘New Faces’ Hatch and released as the B-side to Rubber Band, and is often regarded as Bowie’s first masterpiece.

Although still fantastic, the re-recorded version lacks the youthful charm of the 1966 original.

The Prettiest Star (which was an old song London Bye Ta-Ta rewritten about wife-to-be Angie Barnett) had a slower and deeper B-side, which became the downbeat B-side of the 1970 single The Prettiest Star (which was an old song London Bye Ta-Ta rewritten about wife-to-be Angie Barnett).

We also get a stunning remake of Shadow Man, a previously unreleased Ziggy track.

Toy (Your Turn To Drive), the album’s title track, was released in 2014, and the entire album was released in 2021 as part of a pricey box set.

Although this expanded 3-CD set isn’t his best work, it’s a must-have for hardcore fans and a reminder of Bowie’s incredible pre-fame songwriting talent.

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