The first release from the Black Tie White Noise recording sessions was the ‘Real Cool World’ single, issued in August 1992.
Although the single was not a commercial hit, it was Bowie’s first solo release since Tin Machine, and revealed to the public his reunion with Nile Rodgers.
With this album I feel that it’s going to get a really good reaction among my hard-core fans. But how much of an audience something gets is really down to the singles these days and I really don’t know what they would release as a single.
Arena, Spring/Summer 1993
The lead single from the album was ‘Jump They Say’, issued on 15 March 1993 on 7″, 12″, and compact disc.
Savage had reportedly paid $3.4 million for Black Tie White Noise, and promoted the release heavily. While this doubtless benefited Bowie greatly, the company was overstretched and it went into liquidation in June 1993. This limited the album’s distribution in the US and elsewhere, reducing sales and making original copies hard to come by.
Bowie undertook extensive promotional duties, submitting himself to an eight-hour interview with BBC Radio 1, which was broadcast as the six-episode David Bowie Story. He also gave cover story interviews to high profile publications including the New Musical Express, Q, Rolling Stone, and Arena.
The NME ran a joint interview with Bowie and Suede’s Brett Anderson over two issues, and Rolling Stone had a feature in which Bowie returned to a number of London landmarks from his past.
I’ve never done that before. It was quite extraordinary, despite the fact that most of the things I want to see were either closed or pulled down. It puts into focus just how much time has passed. I actually made a list the other night of the bands that were coming up on the circuit during the time of Ziggy, Bolan and Roxy Music. This was the competition: Lindisfarne, Rory Gallagher, Stary, America, Juicy Lucy, Peter Sarstedt, Thin Lizzy and Gnidrolog. It really was a long, long time ago.
Rolling Stone, 10 June 1993
Black Tie White Noise was released on 5 April 1993. Reviews were broadly positive, with many critics thankful that Bowie appeared to have turned his back on Tin Machine (Bowie planned to record a third studio album with the band in 1993, but the project failed to materialise). It was also the first in a series of new releases to be described as “Bowie’s best since Scary Monsters”, a description which would rapidly become a recurring cliché.
The album topped the UK chart, knocking the debut album by Suede from the number one spot. It also reached the top 10 in Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway. In the US it peaked at 39 on the Billboard 200.
I listen to this album all the time, which is always a good sign. With all due respect to Nile, I didn’t listen to Let’s Dance that much. It wasn’t all me. It was a lot of Nile. I thought, ‘Not again.’ So it was very much my album that we made this time, and Nile contributed to it, as opposed to Nile doing everything and just me suggesting we get Stevie Ray Vaughan in or whatever. That’s probably why it’s so identifiable me.
Rolling Stone, 10 June 1993
The vinyl edition of Black Tie White Noise omitted ‘The Wedding’ and ‘Looking For Lester’. Side two, which kicked off with ‘Miracle Goodnight’ had a slightly different running order, in that ‘Pallas Athena’ was inserted between ‘Don’t Let Me Down & Down’ and ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’.
The original compact disc version came with two bonus tracks: ‘Jump They Say’ (Alternate Mix), and the outtake ‘Lucy Can’t Dance’. Early pressings came in a limited edition box with a biography.
The cassette version had the Alternate Mix of ‘Jump They Say’ as its only bonus track. It also appeared on the CD single released in the EU, where it was named the ‘JAE-E Edit’.
The Indonesian edition of Black Tie White Noise featured ‘Jangan Susahkan Hatiku’ – ‘Don’t Let Me Down & Down’ with the first half sung in Indonesian – in place of the original.
The Japanese version of the album, meanwhile, contained the ‘Pallas Athena’ (Don’t Stop Praying Mix) as a bonus track, in between ‘Jump They Say’ (Alternate Mix) and ‘Lucy Can’t Dance’.