David Bowie / Alabama Song 40th anniversary 7″ picture disc

David Bowie / Alabama Song 40th anniversary 7" picture disc

David Bowie‘s first 45 of the 1980s was a non-album single, a cover of Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht ‘s ‘Alabama Song’This will be reissued in February to mark the 40th anniversary as a special seven-inch picture disc, with two previously unreleased B-sides.

The original single release was noteworthy for also including Bowie’s re-recording of 1969’s ‘Space Oddity’ on the B-side, which for many was David closing the book on the 1970s and foreshadowing the ‘Major Tom’ references in ‘Ashes to Ashes’ (which would be the next single). Both tracks were included on Re:Call 3 in the 2017 A New Career In A New Town box set.

For this 40th anniversary seven-inch picture disc, Parlophone are using the 2017 remaster of ‘Alabama Song’ on the A-side and on the AA-side have two previously unreleased live tracks from the Earls Court Isolar II gigs of 1978 (released in 2018 as Welcome to the Blackout).

‘Joe The Lion’ is from the soundcheck, while ‘Alabama Song’ is a different performance to the one on Welcome to the Blackout. Both live tracks on this single are from the 1 July 1978 show (which means that Welcome to the Blackout must contain the 30 June version of ‘Alabama Song’). It’s interesting to note that rather than stay in bed and recover from the three Earls Court live performances, David Bowie actually recorded the studio version of Alabama Song the very next day (2 July 1978) Tony Visconti’s Good Earth Studios in Soho, London!

‘Joe The Lion’ was newly mixed (by John Prestage) in July this year for this release, while ‘Alabama Song’ was mixed by David Bowie and David Richards in 1979.  Side A is 45 RPM while side AA appears to be 33RPM.

‘Alabama Song’ is reissued on 14 February 2020. The series should continue in 2020 with two big hitters, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and ‘Fashion’.

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David Bowie

alabama song - seven-inch pic disc


Side A
1. Alabama Song (2017 Remaster)

Side AA
1. Joe The Lion (Live Earls Court ’78 Soundcheck)
2. Alabama Song (Live Earls Court ’78)

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John T

Anyone know why the next 40th anniversary singles haven’t been released yet? I think Ashes to Ashes and Fashion should have been out this year too?


Ugh. What is the point of amazon these days? Card envelope far too big and flimsy for this. The record had burst through the sticker on the PVC sleeve and was rattling around the card envelope getting scratched. I couldn’t face getting involved with the recursive loop of sending it back complaining the packaging was inadequate and then getting the exact same result with the replacement so I just returned it for a refund. Will find somewhere else to get another copy.


No shocker here. 2 unreleased tracks.


As others have also said, i really hope they release the b-sides as a cd compilation at some point, even in the same way they released conversation piece. That way, the previously unreleased tracks wouldn’t be exclusively for “stamp collectors”.

Jarmo Keranen

Why don’t they release “normal” vinyl singles with picture cards? Sound quality would be much higher and you could put the pictures in frames and on the wall!


I guessing they will release JIOD[A] on RSD…


ah, too early in the morning…. that acronym took me a while. haha

dancing… dancing… boom boom boom


Lets hope some kind of S. MONSTERS DELUXE ALBUM in 2020


Nice release for collectors.

About the previous single John I’m Only Dancing, it was released in 1972 and reissued in 1979, 1983 and 2012 for the 40th anniversary of the single. In 2012, it was reissued as a picture disc under catalog number DBJOHN40 with a 40th anniversary sticker and it’s out of print.


about “John I’m Only Dancing”, yes you are correct.

But you decided to not include the fact that John, I’m only Dancing (Again) is a completely new recording, and in essence a completely new track. (or, you possibly didn’t know this)

Vernon Purnell

Did I miss “Look Back In Anger” in this series or did they skip that one?


Look Back In Anger was a US single, it was released only in North America. It wasn’t a UK single.

Chris Reed

What’s going on here. They have forgot to bring out “John I’m only dancing(again)” got to No 12 in Dec’79. Idiots !!!!!!!!


All the released are managed by Bill Zyblat, from RZO a collaborator of DB since the 80’s if I remember well, he was mentioned in his will i guess.
Will DB approved; well he has No Plan now.


I hope they release all of the content from this 40th anniversary series onto cd or atleast digital. Especially for the b-sides


Amazons’ packaging has become a bit of a joke. It either seems overkill (boxes within boxes) or a case of picking the least appropriate or protective method. I’ve had hardback books sent in thin plastic jiffy bags and recently received the ‘Until The End Of The World’ double vinyl in nothing more than a brown paper bag.


I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s getting fed up with amazons’ packaging. The plastic bags are horrible. Besides who starts using plastic bags in this day and age


How many of these anniversary 7inches now exist? Nice for collectors. For me the box sets are enough.

Stephen R

I am guessing at one point they will release a huge box to fit all the singles plus another vinyl release in the box [exclusive to the box] and then charge some ridiculous amount to get them both.

mal irvine

24 so far I believe.


Hi Paul. For the record, there were three shows at Earls Court, the third one being 1st July, which I was lucky enough to be at. Still my favourite Bowie gig.

Frank Sidebottom

Bowie…..the record company “cash cow” that just keeps on giving !

7 inch single daylight robbery

Ian Burgess

Would Bowie approve?
Well I guess far more that the family are doing it with love and attention rather than Bootleggers, who would get their hand on it eventually, with the main target of gain.
I know some of the releases are expensive, but at least the royalties go where they should.

Chris Tait

Hi Paul. Was there a 40th Anniversary release of “John I’m Only Dancing (Again) (1975)”. It was Bowie’s last single of 1979. Great site and Happy New Year!

Tim Barton

I will likely get this, but why the hold-up on the Tin Machine recordings, Black Tie, that sort of stuff? A bit baffling, but I was pleased with Conversation Piece. Just more of that in larger sets would be nice.


Glad to see these continuing. I can understand some of the complaints with these 40th anniversary releases but I have all of them so far, and have enjoyed collecting them. Highly recommend folks remove them from their PVC sleeves carefully with an exacto knife through the seal and store them separately as the PVC will eventually ruin the already less-than-stellar sound quality coming from them being picture discs.


Hey Frank … I am glad it wasn’t only me doing this, but you are quite right, the PVC will damage the vinyl eventually. I recently acquired the Queen stormtroopers in stilettos pink 7”, the sleeve left a terrible residue on the vinyl, thankfully it plays ok. I wish it had been taken it out sooner, but i bought it sealed, within several years the damage was surprising! :-/


Silica: You’re not alone! I recently dug out my Wham – Last Christmas 12″ that was only released on record store day a few years ago and it was *already* damaged! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I immediately went through my entire collection and began removing and inspecting anything I thought suspect of being PVC sleeves. Seems like the easiest way to tell is by smelling them…they often smell like inflatable pool toys right out of the package. Of course, that’s not a scientific method lol! I ended up removing a number of others in random plastic just in case.

But for these Bowie releases, it was particularly painful. I was buying them from a collector’s stand-point and every one of mine were still sealed. I’d labored over the idea of eventually removing them anyway as to affect the value, but I finally did. Even my sealed Starman disc. Luckily, only a handful of my Bowie discs looked spotty, and out of those, it appears to be somewhat minimal. It’s hard to tell with pic discs unless you have really good light/eyes and play test them.


Frank, I’ve only learned recently of the potential damage the original plastic (PVC?) sleeves on Bowie picture discs can cause. Mine are all still sealed, but now I’m worried and thinking about removing them from their sleeves. Did you cut right through the sticker? I thought another possibility might be to cut the sleeve itself (“saving” the sticker). I doubt I’ll ever try to resell these records, but unsealing them is still a painful thought. Still, that’s better than damage to the records themselves, of course.


Alot of Bowie on sale at Amazon US now. Including Loving the Alien 15 lp for 107 USD.


That box set dipped to $39.99 on Amazon 3 weeks ago for a single day, crazy price!

What? Bowie? Worry?

The Bowie Vampire Circus keeps trundling along

Steve R

Hey if you don’t approve don’t buy.
If you are not still alive there is only one way to still be a part of people’s lives. And this is it.

bruce kelso

question= would bowie approve of all the archival material being issued?

David S

These 40th anniversary 7″ picture discs were being released whilst Bowie was still alive, so in the case of these, it is a big ‘Yes’, that he approved!

Colum Lavelle

As I understand it, according to Reeves Gabrels or Nile Rogers in an interview, Bowie left 5 enevelopes, one opened around the anniversary of his death (for 5 years after 11/01/2016 ) each envelope contains instructions from Mr. Bowie on what was/could be released.


Hi Paul, ordered so thanks for the link. Bowie played 3 nights at Earls Court in 1978 29-30/6 and 1/7 – was there each night!

Al Hine

I’m not buying this from Amazon, as previous Bowie 7″ picture discs have been posted with the PVC cover folded. They also use oversized mailers with out stiffners, Amazon sell the correct size 7″ record mailers, why can’t they use them?