Have a listen to this insane instrumental outtake from David Bowie’s Low which first appeared on Rykodisc’s Low CD reissue in 1991 and later on All Saints: Collected Instrumentals 1977-1999 an expanded version of a CD that Bowie gave out to friends for Christmas of 1993 (only 150 copies were produced, making it a highly sought after collectible). At the proper volume, this song can almost knock you off your feet.
Joe Stannard, writing at The Quietus describes it ably:
This track, from the Berlin recording sessions which produced Low, is almost indistinguishable from early Throbbing Gristle. Play it back-to-back with TG circa 1979 (as compiled on 1986’s CD1) and you’ll see what I mean. A gnarly squall of low-end electronic noise punctuated by sprite-like coils of treble, this track more than matches the original industrialists for uncompromisingly ugly beauty and offers a stark contrast to the far less visceral instrumental pieces which made the album’s final cut. In truth, Bowie’s decision to leave this piece off Low is understandable; it seems likely that the other tracks would have simply withered in its proximity. Bowie wouldn’t properly release anything as harsh as this until 1995’s flawed but fascinating reunion with Eno, Outside, by which time the term ‘industrial music’ meant something completely different.
Stannard’s observation about the wisdom of leaving the (I think) quite incredible “All Saints” off the track listing of Low is probably right on the money. Can you imagine what the mainstream rock press would have made of a song like this in 1977? Low was already considered to be an uncompromising and impenetrable album at the time, the inclusion of “All Saints” would have seen the critics questioning Bowie’s sanity.
And YES, it most certainly sounds just like Throbbing Gristle. I wonder if that’s an accident? In any case, if you want an amazing, vintage Bowie rarity to blow your doors off, turn this up super loud and let it wash all over you.
Bonus: Here’s another lesser-known Bowie number, recorded with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti for “Heroes.” The original name of this brooding, almost mid-period Can meets dubstep-sounding instrumental is unknown, but the title “Abdulmajid” is a tribute to his wife Iman (it’s her maiden name). Again, you can see why he left this off the album, but it’s stunning nonetheless.