For a rockstar as iconic as David Bowie, life continues after death through scores of hits and artist reproductions. He exists as David Bowie to all and Ziggy Stardust or Thin White Duke to others, but forever lives on as one of pop and rock music’s biggest innovators.
Overachiever that he was, and knowing that he would be battling cancer in the last months of his life, David Bowie still released Blackstar two days before his death. It was his 25th studio album in a music career that spans almost fifty years.
In this month’s Bootie Samples, we have compiled some of the best reproductions of the Thin White Duke’s work made in the last five years. Though not including any of the hundreds of beautiful Bowie covers, the list below focuses on artists that have pulled samples from his work to create fantastic bootlegs, edits, remixes, and originals.
1. David Bowie – Space Oddity
Space Oddity was written in 1969 five-days before the US landed Apollo 11 on the moon. It’s marked by a languid intro that quietly builds before Bowie’s first lyrics break the surface, painting an illusion that you’ve just floated into space. Major Tom, the song’s fictional protagonist, later became a motif in Bowie’s work and is referenced in music by Shiny Toy Guns, Lana Del Rey, and Tom Shilling’s ‘80s hit Major Tom (Coming Home). Check out Lido’s amazing cover here.
2012 | Downtempo | David Bowie – Space Oddity (Virgin Magnetic Material Remix)
Virgin Magnetic Material has made a career specifically out of remixing, and their gauzy rendition of Space Oddity is a modern departure that re-crafts the classic-yet-sparse instrumentation, while leaving Bowie’s lyrics intact. After the iconic 3,2,1 countdown, the track tapers off with a unique outro to mirror the frenzied ending of the original. You can hear more from Virgin Magnetic Material here.
2011 | Glitch | Willow Beats – Space Oddity (Original Mix)
As something of a cover and sampled hybrid, Willow Beats’ version opts to cover Bowie’s lyrics and use the introductory guitar chords of his original to build their rhythm. The similarities end there once the track evolves into a subdued, effects-laden number that still manages to retain that drifting through space feel. Check out Willow Beats’ SoundCloud for more tunes here.
2. David Bowie – Golden Years
Written in 1975, Golden Years has since been covered by countless artists including Marilyn Manson and most recently by James Murphy in the film score for While We’re Young, which you can listen to here.
2011 | Funk / Soul | David Bowie – Golden Years (Jeremy Sole Remix)
This is what Golden Years would have sounded like had David Bowie decided to record it on an island. That was exactly Jeremy Sole’s intention, and the final product even got the nod of approval from Bowie himself. “Everything was recorded 100% analog to 2” tape. All equipment that was available before 1975. My approach was to take influence of the Jamaican musicians (and recording styles) of the mid-seventies, and their infatuation with American Soul music.” Sole says of the remix. “If you dig it, that would be great. Knowing that Bowie digs it, I’m over the moon.” Grab your copy of the remix here.
2012 | Nu Disco | David Bowie – Golden Years (Tim Fuchs Edit) [Free Download]
Tim Fuchs made this edit specifically for Flight Facilities’ “Decade Mixtapes” for Triple j back in 2012. The mix series integrated music from different eras and Fuchs’ edit was nestled between The O’Jays’ For The Love Of Money and Paul McCartney & The Wings’ Listen To What The Man Said. It’s a disco twist on Bowie’s soulful original and makes for an instant dancefloor filler. Download it for free here.
3. David Bowie – Heroes
2011 | Indie Dance | David Bowie – Heroes (Soulwax Remix)
Soulwax might have been David Bowie’s biggest fans. In addition to their Heroes remix, the group also remixed Rebel Rebel in 2009, and then crafted an entire hour-long film called Dave as a tribute to Bowie’s many musical transformations throughout his career. As is typical of a Soulwax remix, they have taken their time and have elongated Heroes into an epic tribute that ebbs and flows with delicate instrumentals that swirl against David Bowie’s playful croon. Hear more from Soulwax here.
4. David Bowie – Let’s Dance
Let’s Dance is arguably one of Bowie’s most recognized anthems. Written in 1983, this song embraced a modern-for-the-time sound to expose him to newer audiences. It is a testament to his ability to continually transform his sound and still stay true to himself in the process, a quality that many artists struggle to emulate today.
2014 | Progressive House | David Bowie – Let’s Dance (InFiction Remix) [Free Download]
InFiction gives the tune a sinister twist that comes to a crescendo at the midway point when a stark house beat kicks in. They’ve crafted their own original chords, leaning heavily on strings for the foundation, and use just a few choice vocal phrases from Bowie’s original. Grab your free download here.
2013 | Disco House | David Bowie – Let’s Dance (The Penelopes Remix) [Free Download]
Honing in on the retro ’80s synth work of the original, The Penelopes inject Let’s Dance with cosmic disco effects that skate alongside Bowie’s seductive lyrics. An edgy four-on-the-floor bassline keeps the pace and brings the final product into a modern sphere. Grab a free copy of the remix here.