David Bowie Is Rare Vinyl


David Bowie Is was originally an exhibition at the V&A in England. It was massively successful, and since then it has gone on the road around the world. Now, it has made its way to Tokyo. I went there just the other day. It was amazing, breathtaking and at times nearly reduced me to tears. It’s the end all be all experience for any David Bowie fan, an audio/visual smorgasbord of memorabilia, rare video, behind-the-scenes footage and various Bowie ephemera from his birth to now.

You should go. That’s all I really have to say about that. Besides, photos weren’t allowed inside so writing anymore about it would be rather pointless. So instead, let’s talk about the records you can buy there, because vinyl.

When it was announced that David Bowie Is was coming to Tokyo, several Japan-exclusive LPs were announced as well. These included colored variants of Heathen, Reality, The Next Day, and the A Reality Tour live album. Since the exhibition has opened, people have been able to walk into most any record store in the country and pick them up.

They’re very nice, albeit not all of them as as “exclusive” as you might think. Aside from the obi strip and the Japanese inserts, the variants for Heathen, Reality and A Reality Tour aren’t any different than variants than the variants that Friday Music put out worldwide in 2015. Same colors and all. Of course, they still look very nice, and they sound wonderful. But don’t splurge on import prices for them, the obi strips don’t make them worth the extra cash.

The Next Day is a little different, however. While Discogs does list a yellow vinyl release for that album back in 2013, I believe that to be a mistake. This is most likely the first colored vinyl pressing of this album since the ultra-rare red pressing that was limited to something like a hundred copies. So this one appears to be a genuine rarity limited to Japan only. The color is a little like pea soup, but it still looks nice.

But it has nothing on this.

This is a 12″ single for “Blackstar,” pressed on red vinyl. It is not only the first colored vinyl pressing of “Blackstar,” it’s the first vinyl pressing of the single at all.

Want it? Best buy a plane ticket.

While you can get the Japanese pressings of the Bowie albums at any record store in Japan, and even at several web outlets, this red 12″ single is exclusive to the gift shop at the Japanese David Bowie Is exhibition. I have no idea how limited it is, if they’re going to keep it in print until the exhibition is over, or if they have a finite supply in stock now and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

I do know that it’s absolutely gorgeous though. The solid red is evocative of the Japanese rising sun, bright and bold against the plain back sleeve. It also sounds absolutely stunning, just as good as the vinyl pressing of the album proper.

Included on the B-side are two additional tracks, radio edits of “Lazarus” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” The edit of “Lazarus” is on the recently released Legacy greatest hits collection, but I do believe that this is the first commercial release of the “I Can’t Give Everything Away” edit, further adding to this release’s value.

This piece of red wax is a ruby gem in my collection that I will value for a long time. I’m not saying that getting the chance to see David Bowie Is, and by extension pick up this amazingly rare record, is the best thing to happen to me since I came to Tokyo three years ago, but it’s probably in the top five.

I highly doubt this will stay in print after the show comes to a close. So if you do get a chance to get one at anything close to retail price (about $35) grab it immediately. Of course, like I said, your best bet to grab one is to make your way to the David Bowie Is gift shop. The show runs in Tokyo until March 9th (more information available here). And if other V&A Bowie limited editions are any indications, expect this to shoot up in value even more after the show comes to a close.

Did I mention it’s pretty? It’s really pretty.

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