David Bowie, the unreleased songs from the “Rock 'n' Roll Star!” box  (part 1)

David Bowie, in the box “Rock’n’roll star!” there are not only CDs…

The exploration of David Bowie’s wide and varied production continues methodically and with good results. The format and dimensions of the boxes published so far give the idea of ​​an organic project – with the exception of “The width of a circle”, a double CD which contains unreleased demos and alternative versions from the era around 1970. I’m talking about “Conversation piece”, released in 2019 and centered on the “Space Odity” period; and “Divine Symmetry”, released in 2022, which explores the chronological area around “Hunky Dory” (which, apart from some graphic discrepancies – the orientation of the writing on the back of the box – could well appear on a shelf following the other; it would be desirable to review the box on “Station to Station”, to approve that too).

For Bowie enthusiasts and completionists there has been no lack of satisfaction so far. It should be considered that recording operations like these, which are complicated to carry out and expensive to purchase, take on value not only thanks to the strictly musical content (which is, inevitably, of discontinuous quality, although it allows us to know what is left – by choice of the artist, or for technical reasons, or due to temporary unavailability or unavailability of the songs contained – outside the official albums published during his lifetime).

We have provided a very detailed report in recent days of the music, and in particular of the unreleased songs, contained in “Rock’n’roll star”, the box released last week, which you can purchase here (we wrote about it here, here and here ), while here you can find the complete tracklist.

We have not said so far, nor could we have done so since we did not yet have the “physical” version of the box set, packaging and extra-musical contents in our hands. Which, even in “Rock’n’roll star!”, are one of the good reasons that justify the expense of the purchase. In fact, the box contains a paper book and notebook, which for fans (and scholars of Bowie’s music) are – when their quality is valuable, as in this case – an excellent reason to take the box home.


Let’s start with the notebook, which – as in a similar object included in “Divine symmetry” – photographically reproduces Bowie’s notes, sketches and autograph notes in its 36 pages, and is an authentic treasure trove of discoveries, given that it testifies to the evolution of the titles , the tracklist, the setlists and the lyrics of the songs.

The book, 112 color pages, in whose hard cover the six CDs with cardboard covers are inserted, offers for its part a vast selection of images and texts: memorabilia, liner notes, information on the individual CD tracks, reviews and articles from the era, as well as unpublished or little-seen photographs of Barrie Wentzel, Michael Putland, Mick Rock, Sukita and Alec Byrne (two are included in this article), as well as new analyzes and interviews with co-producer Ken Scott (at the end of the article an interview with him in three parts), the sound engineer Mark Carr Pritchett (who passed away on June 12th) and with Anya Wilson.

This is a lesser-known name: but Wilson met Bowie when she worked as a radio and television promoter for GEM music publishers. She began working with him (and at the same time with Marc Bolan) on “Memory of a free festival” and “Holy Holy”, and then became a frequent visitor to the Haddon Hall house, witnessing the birth of the project “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars “; it was she who got Bowie the crucial TV appearance with “Starman” on “Top of the Pops” on 6 July 1972 (Anya also managed the artist’s fan club).

Many hours of listening and many hours of reading: this is what the “Rock’n’roll star!” box offers.