On Nov. 17, David Bowie released his curated career spanning collection, Nothing Has Changed. The collection is available in three different mediums, either a two or three CD set, or a double vinyl. The double vinyl and double CD collections are essentially a David Bowie greatest hits set, though the three CD offering, which will be covered in this review, is quite a treat.
The first things fans will notice with Nothing Has Changed is that Bowie has elected to put the songs in reverse order. Immediately, you are hit with the seven minute epic, Sue (Or a Season In Crime). This is the only newly recorded song among a sea of remixes and remastered tracks, having been tackled by Bowie this year. It is an incredibly complex song, reminiscent of jazz fusion music with a heavy experimentalist vibe. It is not user-friendly, but it is complex and intelligent, on par with any of Bowie’s exceptional content. It makes a bold statement at the beginning of the record, demanding attention out of the gate rather than being provided as an encore.
After Sue, the Nothing Has Changed collection speeds fairly quickly through the David Bowie discography, touching on most of his records, including his most recent album, The Next Day. Fans will find some intriguing remixes in the set, and a few improvements of previously released songs. The collection speeds through Bowie’s legacy very quickly, only briefly touchingly every era of his music. This is somewhat surprising, but refreshing. It shows that the Thin White Duke is not sitting back and letting his radio hits do the work. Audiences who expect much of Ziggy will be disappointed here, there are only three outings from the landmark 1972 album. The same goes for Diamond Dogs and the Berlin era. They are expressed in extreme brevity rather than in excess.
The collection ends with Bowie’s years before Ziggy Stardust when he was an acoustic folk troubadour. This part of the collection, while brief like the nature of the set, is endearing and introspective in its own way. The excerpts show Bowie even before Hunky Dory, and it is an excellent glimpse into his younger years. Liza Jane ends the record with an old mono recording of Bowie’s first semi-successful group as a teenager. Artistically, ending the record with the beginning and starting with the end is uniquely wonderful; it gives the set more depth and makes it feel less like a greatest hits CD.
At the end of the day, David Bowie’s Nothing Has Changed collection can still be seen as a hits record. With that said, it is deeper than that. It is curated, purposefully skipping songs audiences may expect to be on it, and it acts like a playlist more than an album. In that sense, it is wonderful. It is an artistic voyage through and from the legend. It is not an expensive set, weighing in at about 30 dollars, which is unusual in light of recent reissues and collectors sets running three or four times that. Since it is so cheap, it is very much worth the purchase, though if presented with the option to obtain it digitally or stream it, that may be even wiser.
Review By Brett Stewart