Even though he suddenly and devastatingly left us in January this year, David Bowie continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. Well, sort of. This particular shiny nugget of news is technically Bowie-adjacent; it’s still excellent though. The long-lost soundtrack to The Man Who Fell To Earth, the 1976 film starring Bowie as an alien (which, duh) is to be released on September 9 via UMC to celebrate the film’s 40th Anniversary.
If you’ve never seen the flick, here’s a little background for you from a lifelong fan. It’s based on Walter Tevis’ 1963 science fiction novel of the same name, which followed the story of Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from a drought-stricken planet called Anthea. Newton has made a long, arduous journey to Earth seeking a way to bring the rest of his people to safety there; but the follies of humans – self-destruction, sloth, substance abuse, untamed emotion, suspicion, lust, curiosity – ultimately cause him to fail. The film adaptation is a vivid fever dream, batshit but enrapturing, and was Bowie’s first starring role. It’s easy to see why it’s got such a strong cult following to this day. I’m sure the fact that it features real, legit, 100% full-frontal David Bowie nudity has NOTHING to do with it, either.
Anyway, the soundtrack itself has been sought after by fans since the movie’s release. When Tevis’ book was reissued as a Pan paperback to coincide with the movie’s release, there was a note on the back cover: “Album available on RCA”, but it simply wasn’t. In a statement on the official David Bowie Facebook page, it was made clear that some fans have even tried to compile their own versions of the soundtrack, but they’d been unsuccessful. Why the release has taken so bloody long is still a mystery for now; however, the impending double-disc release will apparently come with a “48 page hardcover book” explaining all. The only hint we have so far is that the “lost master tapes” for the soundtrack were recently found, facilitating the release. But why were they lost? Where were they found? Is this some extraterrestrial stuff (or more likely, just a case of mislabelled tapes in storage)?
For completists, there will be a Deluxe Box Set coming a little later on November 18 – and its contents really read like the gift for the Bowie fan who has everything:
“The box features a reproduction of the original UK poster and a 48-page hardback book with rare photos and a new essay about the film from Paolo Hewitt. The book also contains enlightening notes from the movie’s editor Graeme Clifford who reveals that he used Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon as a temporary soundtrack whilst working on the film.”
All that AND the soundtrack was composed by John Phillips (The Mamas & The Papas) and Stomu Yamash’ta, and UMC’s version of the release will contain all of Phillips’ tracks that didn’t make the final cut. It’s a landmark piece of Bowie history, and not just because it’s a seriously cool soundtrack. The Man Who Fell To Earth had a very tangible influence on Bowie. The movie poster is the artwork for Low, released one year later. It marked the birth of Station To Station – watch the trailer and look at the album artwork above and you’ll see what I mean. It paved the way to other iconic starring roles in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence; The Linguine Incident and as if I was ever going to end this sentence without mentioning Labyrinth. The upshot is this: if you’ve got a Bowie fan in your life and you’re ever stuck for gift ideas, you know what to do.
Image: David Bowie Official Facebook