So its 2022 and TOY has finally been officially released.
“There’s a hole in the ground… And there’s no one around…”
Well folks, it finally happened. At long last, almost 22 years since its conception was first announced, David Bowie’s Toy album has been officially birthed upon the world. In this article, I’ll go over a few of these Toy Boxes and how they differ from each other, along with a unique workshop mix of Toy linked at the end.
Along with the odd new cover art, the official album boasts a different track list from the previously available leaks and bootlegs, with a few songs (“Uncle Floyd”, “Afraid”) swapped out in favor of new ones (“Karma Man”, “Can’t Help Thinking About Me”), and many of the songs have been re-sequenced from the order many of us have gotten used to over the 11 years years since the Baby took it’s first ‘leak’.
As for formats, take your pick: there’s the 1 CD / 2×12″ LP version available on the stellar Brilliant Adventure box set; then there’s the Toy:Box version (released on David’s birthday, how cute) available on 3 CD or 6×10″ LP, featuring two whole albums-worth of alternate treatments to the album:
No two (or three) ways about it, the Toy:Box set is practically flaunting how many different mixes/takes/performances Bowie and Co can mold the Toy material into.
Then, as if that all that wasn’t enough, on New Years Day it was all topped off with the announcement of a SUPER LIMITED – SUPER OFFICIAL – super green cassette release:
All of a sudden our cassette full of different mixes from 2017 is seeming a lot less inexplicable…
Especially when the announcement on the OFFICIAL David Bowie facebook page went so far as to plug the old BowieOnTape website:
Further Details Following
With the Official (whatever that even means now) TOY cassette currently hovering around $30-$50 on the market, we did what seemed the only sensible thing left to do and placed our bid on the Horrid Baby Grace Blue cassette.
In the meantime, I’d be remiss if I didn’t further tie the loop around this weird dance surrounding the Toy album. The new versions (LP, 10″ Box, and CD Box) are all top-notch, and each does lovely job of providing clean, crisp mixes of the songs that we hadn’t heard up until now.
There are have also been some curious developments on the bootleg side of things in the time since we made our original TOY post. Alongside our OG cassette bootleg and the numerous downloads of varying mixed quality we’ve found over the years, we also acquired two different bootlegs CDs. Both deserve special mention, especially in light of the new, official mixes.
First up is the so-called “Cygnet” edition, which we picked up in 2021 along with a Leon Suites CD that seemed on the up-and-up:
In this version the songs have mostly pulled out of the low-res production compression they’ve been stuck in — but it also has noticeable pacing issues in certain places that keep it from really taking off. However CD also seems to be where the highest-quality versions of “Uncle Floyd” and “Afraid” were hiding, which together make for a lovely epilogue/coda to the official 3-CD album.
Then there was this one that popped up in VERY early 2020, featuring cartoon cover art I’ve never seen before (or since), which we’ve dubbed the “Workshop” edition:
So…technical-wise, the mix levels on this “Workshop” edition are kept fairly low, giving the impression of being sourced from the usual leaked mp3s. However, careful listening revealed these versions to be at least closer to those on our original cassette than we’d heard elsewhere.
I had never heard of this version of “The London Boys” before, so my curiosity was piqued. All the more when the CD arrives and the album ends with track 15 “Can’t Help Thinking About Me (Live)”. After I reached out to the seller concerning the error, they kindly provided me with a download link to a file called “London Boys (Edit)”.
And sure enough, it sounds like a brand new workshop mix of the song with fresh string parts added, along with all sorts of other instrumentation and vocal performance… and then halfway through someone starts fiddling around with the mix settings and the audio levels shift before an early fadeout…
…only of it to fade up again back on the official side of the story, when much to our astonishment a FINISHED version of this new “strings” track shows up on CD2 of the official Toy album as “The London Boys (Alternative Mix)”. You can listen to the “Workshop” edition below and be the judge.
Point being, at this stage in the game, with all versions and evidence amassed, it would be more improbable for all of these variations to NOT be coming from the same source, whether it claims to be official/authoritative or a filthy bootleg.
So…Where Are We Now?
We’ve all seen the movie and know how it goes: Dave goes through the monolith/black hole and now he’s back as the Space Baby.
It’s almost like some weird piece of clockwork. And the birth even happened around the holidays!
Well folks, you may call me a bit deranged, but The Space Baby, AKA the “Star Child” (and after 22 years of waiting, you might even say “Star Man”) might finally be here.
Until Next Time,
– Elizabeth & Dee
Toy (2020 “Workshop” CD):
Download the Toy “Workshop” edition from our Dropbox HERE. Upload to youtube pending.