On January 7th, 2022, the day before David’s birthday, TOY (TOY:BOX) will receive its long awaited official release, finally making the legendary previously unreleased album available in three CD / six 10” vinyl versions.
TOY was recorded following David's triumphant Glastonbury 2000 performance. Bowie entered the studio with his band, Mark Plati, Sterling Campbell, Gail Ann Dorsey, Earl Slick, Mike Garson, Holly Palmer and Emm Gryner, to record new interpretations of songs he’d first recorded from 1964-1971. David planned to record the album ‘old school’ with the band playing live, choose the best takes and then release it as soon as humanly possible in a remarkably prescient manner. Unfortunately, in 2001 the concept of the ‘surprise drop’ album release and the technology to support it were still quite a few years off, making it impossible to release TOY, as the album was now named, out to fans as instantly as David wanted. In the interim, David did what he did best; he moved on to something new, which began with a handful of new songs from the same sessions and ultimately became the album HEATHEN, released in 2002 and now acknowledged as one of his finest moments.
Now twenty years after its originally planned release, David’s co-producer Mark Plati says, ""Toy is like a moment in time captured in an amber of joy, fire and energy. It’s the sound of people happy to be playing music. David revisited and re-examined his work from decades prior through prisms of experience and fresh perspective - a parallel not lost on me as I now revisit it twenty years later. From time to time, he used to say ‘Mark, this is our album’ - I think because he knew I was so deeply in the trenches with him on that journey. I’m happy to finally be able to say it now belongs to all of us.”
Available in 3CD or 6x10” vinyl formats, TOY (TOY:BOX) is a special edition of the TOY album. The ‘capture the moment’ approach of the recording sessions are extended to the sleeve artwork designed by Bowie featuring a photo of him as a baby with a contemporary face. The package also contains a 16-page full-colour book featuring previously unseen photographs by Frank Ockenfels 3.
The seeds of TOY were first sown in 1999 during the making of an episode of VH-1 Storytellers. David wanted to perform something from his pre-‘Space Oddity’ career, so he reached back to 1966 and dusted off ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’ for the first time in thirty years. The song remained in the setlist for the short promotional tour for the ‘hours…’ album, and in early 2000 David and producer Mark Plati compiled a list of some of Bowie’s earliest songs to re-record.
TOY finishes with a new song from which the album takes its title, 'Toy (Your Turn To Drive)’ was constructed from a jam at the end of one of the live takes of ‘I Dig Everything’. The track is based around rearranged sections of Sterling Campbell's drums, Gail Ann Dorsey's bass and sections of Mike Garson’s piano were looped along with a guitar line of Earl Slick’s that was sampled, time stretched and used as a repeating figure. Lastly, some of Holly and Emm’s backing vocals from the body of ‘Dig Everything’ were cut up and reassembled. Producer Mark Plati ""As it was culled from ‘I Dig Everything’ it makes sense to bookend the album with this track - it’s also a fitting postscript to the TOY era”.
Included in TOY:BOX is a second CD/set of 10”s of alternative mixes and versions including proposed B-Sides (versions of David’s debut single ‘Liza Jane’ and 1967’s ‘In The Heat Of The Morning’), later mixes by Tony Visconti and the ‘Tibet Version’ of ‘Silly Boy Blue’ recorded at The Looking Glass Studio time at the of the 2001 Tibet House show in New York featuring Philip Glass on piano and Moby on guitar.
The third CD/set of 10”s features 'Unplugged & Somewhat Slightly Electric’ mixes of thirteen TOY tracks. Producer Mark Plati ""While we were recording the basic tracks Earl Slick suggested that he and I overdub acoustic guitars on all the songs. He said this was a Keith Richards’ trick, sometimes these guitars would be a featured part of the track, and at other times they’d be more subliminal. Later while mixing, David heard one of the songs broken down to just vocals and acoustic guitars; this gave him the idea that we ought to do some stripped-down mixes like that and that maybe one day they'd be useful. Once we put a couple of other elements in the pot, it felt like it could be a completely different record. I was only too happy to finish that thought some two decades after the fact.”