David Bowie’s Lost Album Toy Will Get an Official Release: Hear the First Track “You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving”

To the seri­ous Bowie fan, the unre­leased self-cov­ers album Toy is not a secret. This col­lec­tion of reworked pre-“Space Odd­i­ty” songs record­ed with his tour­ing band from his 2000 Glas­ton­bury appear­ance was boot­legged a year after it was shelved in 2001. And it has been re-pressed ille­gal­ly near­ly every year since, some­times as Toy and some­times as The Lost Album. Some of the four­teen cuts popped up as b‑sides over the years, but the whole album? Maybe, fans thought…one day.

Well, that one day is here, as the first sin­gle “You’ve Got a Habit of Leav­ing” dropped yes­ter­day along with an announce­ment for a larg­er 90’s‑encompassing box set release com­ing soon after.
Accord­ing to Chris O’Leary’s Push­ing Ahead of the Dame web­page—which you real­ly should book­mark if you haven’t yet—the orig­i­nal ver­sion of “You’ve Got a Habit of Leav­ing” was writ­ten when he was only 18, and earned him a rep­ri­mand from none oth­er than The Who’s Pete Town­shend. ”You’re try­ing to write like me!” said Pete.

You can total­ly hear the Who influ­ence in the cho­rus of the ver­sion released by Davy Jones and the Low­er Third, which apes the fuzz-gui­tar freak-outs from “My Gen­er­a­tion.”

Three and a half decades and mul­ti­ple Bowie-incar­na­tions lat­er, and the for­mer Davy Jones decid­ed to look back at those hun­gry ear­ly years and redo some of his songs.

The plan in 2000 was to gath­er his band and record an album old-school, live, in stu­dio, with all the ener­gy and some­times slop­pi­ness that used to hap­pen in the 1960s, when most bands got at most two days to record their first albums. The first Bea­t­les album was record­ed this way, and look where that got them.

But this also afford­ed Bowie a chance to fix the weak­ness­es of those orig­i­nal songs in struc­ture and arrange­ment. Says O’Leary: “The new ver­sion is longer, far more elab­o­rate­ly pro­duced, far more pro­fes­sion­al­ly played and it still sounds like a Who knock-off, only a knock-off of The Who ca. 1999. That said, Bowie sings it well and it does final­ly rock out at the end.”

Bowie’s plan was to quick­ly fin­ish Toy and drop it unan­nounced as a sur­prise to his fans. This is com­mon­place now—Beyonce and Radio­head have done sim­i­lar secret releases—but EMI freaked out, balked, and their reac­tion ulti­mate­ly led Bowie to leave the label.

Oth­er songs reimag­ined on Toy include “Liza Jane,” Bowie’s debut sin­gle from 1964; “Sil­ly Boy Blue” from his first self-titled 1967 LP; and “The Lon­don Boys” a 1966 B‑side. The album also includes songs that didn’t make it on the bootlegs: “Kar­ma Man,” the orig­i­nal of which turned up on Bowie at the Beeb from a 1968 ses­sion, and “Can’t Help Think­ing About Me,” orig­i­nal­ly released in 1966.

The release will be part of Bril­liant Adven­ture (1992–2001) an 11-CD or 18-LP box set that will focus on Bowie’s third decade. Toy will be released sep­a­rate­ly as a 3‑CD release called Toy:Box, con­tain­ing “alter­nate mix­es and out­takes.” Bet­ter save your pen­nies!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

When David Bowie Launched His Own Inter­net Ser­vice Provider: The Rise and Fall of BowieNet (1998)

In 1999, David Bowie Pre­dicts the Good and Bad of the Inter­net: “We’re on the Cusp of Some­thing Exhil­a­rat­ing and Ter­ri­fy­ing”

How David Bowie Used William S. Bur­roughs’ Cut-Up Method to Write His Unfor­get­table Lyrics

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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