Dando seguimento à box set Five Years 1969-1973 editada no ano passado, a obra de David Bowie vai ganhar a sua retrospectiva correspondente aos anos entre 74 e 76 numa nova colecção intitulada Who Can I Be Now? (1974 – 1976). Ainda sem muitas informações sobre o lançamento ou a sua data de edição sabe-se, para já, que vem com um tesouro sem preço.

Bowie gravou em 1974 um disco que nunca chegou a ver a luz do dia mas que se acredita ter funcionado como um ensaio geral para Young Americans de 1975 e, de certa forma, também para o nascimento de uma das suas últimas grandes personas, Thin White Duke, que ganharia vida em 1976 no disco Station To Station. Uma gravação que levou David Bowie a caminhar os trilhos da soul de Filadélfia e do funk que por aqueles anos eram reis e senhores um pouco por todo o lado. Esse disco chamava-se The Gouster e esteve até agora bem guardado.

Algumas linhas escritas por Toni Visconti, o produtor de eleição do cantor inglês, sobre The Gouster e que farão parte de Who Can I Be Now? falam das gravações em Agosto de 74, das canções, de soul, do que era o gouster e do tema escrito por Bowie e Lennon alguns meses mais tarde.

Gouster was a word unfamiliar to me but David knew it as a type of dress code worn by African American teens in the 60s, in Chicago. But in the context of the album its meaning was attitude, an attitude of pride and hipness. Of all the songs we cut, we were enamoured of the ones we chose for the album that portrayed this attitude.

David had a long infatuation with soul, as did I. We were fans of the TV show Soul Train. We weren’t ‘young, gifted and black’ but we sure as hell wanted to make a killer soul album, which was quite insane, but pioneers like the Righteous Brothers were there before us.

So The Gouster began with the outrageous, brand new, funkified version of David’s classic John, I’m Only Dancing, a single he wrote and recorded in 1972, only this time our version sounded like it was played live in a loft party in Harlem and he added (Again) to the title. It wasn’t the two-and-a-half-minute length of the original either.

We maxed out at virtually seven minutes! With the time limitations of vinyl (there was a big volume drop with more than 18 minutes a side), we could only fit two other long songs on side one, Somebody Up There Likes Me and It’s Gonna Be Me, both about six and a half minute songs. We had hit the 20-minute mark. Technically that worked because It’s Gonna Be Me had lots of quiet sections where the record groove could be safely made narrower and that would preserve the apparent loudness of side one.

Side two also hit the 20-minute mark, with Can You Hear Me saving the day with its quiet passages. Forty minutes of glorious funk, that’s what it was and that’s how I thought it would be.

A week or so later I was in London mixing the album and I got a call from David. ‘Er, Tony. I don’t know how to tell you this but John and I wrote a song together and we recorded and mixed it. It’s called Fame … David apologised for not including me. There wasn’t time left to send for me, because of the release date constraints. For me, it would’ve been the most wonderful experience of my recording career. Oh well.

Para ouvir aqui alguns excertos daquilo que terão sido os takes originais das sessões de gravação. Esperemos para ouvir o que mais Who Can I Be Now? (1974 – 1976) nos revelará.

Side 1
1. John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)
2. Somebody Up There Likes Me
3. It’s Gonna Be Me
Side 2
1. Who Can I Be Now?
2. Can You Hear Me
3. Young Americans
4. Right