Whilst I've known about Bowie's history for quite some time, I still find it incredible that he started releasing music as far back as the same year The Rolling Stones released their first album.
Of course, the reason so few people realise that Bowie started in the mid-60's is because he failed to have any hits. And listening to the material on this compilation, it's abundantly clear why - this stuff just ain't that great! But it ain't bad either, and if you're a big-time Bowie fan, you might just find it worthwhile to pick up this archival release.
Just like The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones before him, David Bowie started out singing covers of 1950's rock'n'roll. So this album opens with a surprisingly engaging take on “Liza Jane”, and whilst it's a far cry from capturing the spirit The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds were able to capture, it's a perfectly nice toe-tapper. “Louie, Go Home” is shakier and less likable, but he makes up for that with an interesting take on “I Pity the Fool”, featuring heavily-layered saxophones. Hardly a revolutionary concept, but a lot of fun!
Everything beyond the first three tracks are Bowie originals, and they range from bad to mediocre to mildly good. “Take My Tip” is the very first David Bowie original, and it's a very confused little thing that shows promise, but overall it's just too dull to make an impression.
Probably the most embarrassing selections on this collection are the Folk songs (excuse me while I barf!). “That's Where My Heart Is” is terrible, featuring a boring vocal performance and a dull melody. “Bars of the County Jail” is even worse ... from the song title, I guess it was supposed to be some sort of outlaw Johnny Cash thing, but it sounds so dang ham-fisted. Blah! But in those songs' defence, they both sound like demos, so maybe they would've been better if some executive let Bowie flesh them out in the studio. Eh. I still don't think they would've been very good.
by Reviewer: Don Ignacio
(blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews