David Bowie's five most recent studio albums will be packaged together in the "David Bowie Box Set," due Nov. 27 via ISO/Columbia. "Outside" (1995), "Earthling" (1997), "Hours" (1999), "Heathen" (2002) and "Reality" (2003) will each include a bonus disc of rare tracks and will be housed in vinyl replica digipaks.
The two-disc editions, which were compiled for international markets, are making their U.S. debuts in this package.
"Outside" reunited Bowie with producer Brian Eno, who was behind the boards for the legendary series of '70s albums recorded in Berlin, "Low," "Lodger" and "Heroes." The set is a concept album of sorts centering around a detective, Nathan Adler, investigating the death of 14-year-old Baby Grace Blue.
Bowie inhabits no less than seven characters throughout the set, perhaps best known for its top 20 hit on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, "The Heart's Filthy Lesson." The bonus cuts include several mixes of that song and "Hallo Spaceboy," plus the non-album tracks "Get Real" and "Nothing To Be Desired."
While the music is steeped in a hybrid of jungle, electronica and rock, a more down-to-earth spirit pervades "Earthling," which featured the single "I'm Afraid of Americans." The set was put to tape almost immediately following the "Outside" tour, as Bowie told Billboard at the time. "We came off the road feeling very excited about ourselves as a band, and I wanted to go in immediately and record something that really reflected that kind of energy."
The two-disc edition features remixes of "Little Wonder," "I'm Afraid of Americans," "Dead Man Walking" and "Telling Lies," plus versions of "V-2 Schneider" and "Pallas Athena" performed by Bowie and his band under the name Tao Jones Index.
Always a trailblazer when it comes to technology, Bowie made "Hours" the first full album by a major artist available for sale via digital download with the participation of retailers. He told Billboard at the time that the album was an attempt to write songs that "represent my age group. I wanted it to be reflective of the problems and anguishes of one specific generation."
The updated version of the album sports remix of album tracks from Marius DeVries and Beck, four B-sides and an alternate version of "The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell" from the film "Stigmata," among others.
Bowie transitioned from Virgin to ISO/Columbia for his first albums of the new century. "We weren't even tentative when we went in with 'Heathen'," he told Billboard in 2003. "We kind of knew that we would produce something really excellent, although we didn't know quite what it was going to be. And it just kind of fired our motors, I think. We charged into 'Reality' absolutely gung-ho that we really could do what we used to do, which is produce a signature sound and an interesting construct that would sound not like anybody else's work."
The bonus cuts for "Heathen" and "Reality" are highlighted by remixes from Moby and Air, a cover of the Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset" and an outtake of the vintage track "Panic in Detroit."