With his famously futuristic alter ego Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie was always ahead of his time.
In fact, the visionary rock god had his sights set on dropping a surprise album long before Beyoncé made that game-changing move in 2013.
After he banged out his “Toy” LP in 2000, Bowie wanted to likewise release it right away in a more forward-thinking digital fashion. But the album was shelved by his then-label Virgin Records, prompting the late legend to move on to Columbia Records with 2002’s “Heathen.”
On Friday, though, the long-buried “Toy” finally sees the light of day 22 years after it was recorded — and the day before what would have been Bowie’s 75th birthday.
“At the time the label couldn’t kind of get it together to get it out,” “Toy” producer Mark Plati told The Post. “But he saw the future coming. He knew that things could come out pretty quickly, and sitting around and waiting for a label with all those moving parts and ideas … it just didn’t fit that record. He’d already moved on to the next record — we started doing ‘Heathen’ while we were still finishing ‘Toy.’ ”
Toying with his roots
The seeds for “Toy” were planted when Bowie appeared on VH1’s “Storyteller” series in August 1999. “He wanted to talk about the mid-’60s, so he needed to have a song to kind of go along with that,” said Plati. “David decided to do ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me,’ and he just really enjoyed doing it. He had so much fun with it that we continued to play that song on the tour that followed.”
Bowie was then inspired to revisit more of his early tunes released before his 1969 breakthrough with “Space Oddity” — 11 of which would appear on “Toy.”
“He and I got together and just went through a lot of those old songs and chose a group of them that we thought would be great to record [again] with the band that he had now,” said Plati.
Hot off a a triumphant performance at the Glastonbury Festival in England, Bowie and his band returned to New York to record “Toy” — updating the original ’60s pop-rock sound — in the summer of 2000.
“The vibe was great because we had just come off a bunch of gigs — especially coming off Glastonbury — and the band was so tight,” said guitarist Earl Slick of the “Toy” sessions, which mostly took place at Sear Sound studios in Midtown.
“Everybody was fresh off the road, everybody had tons of energy, and that really made it a lot of fun. We recorded it straight through like a rock band. Some of those things are first takes.”
A baby on the way
While giving birth to “Toy,” though, Bowie was also awaiting the arrival of his daughter Lexi, who was born in August 2000, with wife Iman. “Matter of fact, he was actually, like, on call pretty much the whole time we were in the studio, because it was that close,” said Slick.
Not that the expectant father was nervous about it, though: “David never got anxious about a f—king thing,” said Slick.
Indeed, there was a playful spirit to the making of “Toy.” “We were just laughing and having a good time,” said drummer Sterling Campbell. “It was a lot of comedy and a lot of jokes.”
And listening to “Toy” six years after his death, you can hear the joy in Bowie. “He was happy making music,” said Campbell. “This was the time to just enjoy the music for the sake of making music.”
Published on: Article source