by Paul Cashmere, Noise11
David Bowie fans will finally get to own The Gouster when his next box set is released.
The Gouster was to be the album after Diamond Dogs but morphed into Young Americans instead.
The original album tracklisting would have been:
- John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)
- Somebody Up There Likes Me
- It’s Gonna Be Me
- Who Can I Be Now?
- Can You Hear Me
- Young Americans
Another song from the sessions, After Today, will not be on The Gouster although it was released on the 1989 box set Sound & Vision.
Producer Tony Visconti explains The Gouster in the Who Can It Be Now box liner notes:
Gouster was a word unfamiliar to me but David knew it as a type of dress code worn by African American teens in the ‘60’s, 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 enamored of the ones we chose for the album that portrayed this attitude.There will be more info on the Who Can it Be Now? (1974-1976) box set in coming weeks.
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, funkafied 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 (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 twenty-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 twenty-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.