Reissues

Earthling was reissued in two versions in 2004. The standard edition contained four remixes appended to the main album: ‘Little Wonder’ (Danny Saber dance mix); ‘I’m Afraid Of Americans’ (Nine Inch Nails V1 mix); ‘Dead Man Walking’ (Moby mix 2 US promo 12″); and ‘Telling Lies’ (Adam F mix).

There was also an expanded edition with a second disc, housed in digibook packaging. The bonus material rounded up the main remixes, along with two live performances:

  • ‘Little Wonder’ (censored video edit)
  • ‘Little Wonder’ (Junior Vasquez club mix)
  • ‘Little Wonder’ (Danny Saber dance mix)
  • ‘Seven Years In Tibet’ (Mandarin version)
  • ‘Dead Man Walking’ (Moby mix 1)
  • ‘Dead Man Walking’ (Moby mix 2 US promo 12″)
  • ‘Telling Lies’ (Feelgood mix)
  • ‘Telling Lies’ (Paradox mix)
  • ‘I’m Afraid Of Americans’ (Showgirls soundtrack version)
  • ‘I’m Afraid Of Americans’ (Nine Inch Nails V1 mix)
  • ‘I’m Afraid Of Americans’ (Nine Inch Nails V1 clean edit)
  • ‘V-2 Schneider’ (Tao Jones Index) (Live at the Paradiso, Amsterdam, 10 June 1997)
  • ‘Pallas Athena’ (Tao Jones Index) (Live at the Paradiso, Amsterdam, 10 June 1997)

Title and artwork

It was some time around the Roseland show in New York – September 14th, 1996. I recall it had come up during that previous week, though I don’t remember the exact day. At that show he asked the audience if the album should be called Earthling or Earthlings. The audience chose the former. The art for the album came together over the course of recording the album. Every new idea or concept would be put up on the wall. By the end of tracking the walls of the studio were filled with the artwork that would become the album.
Mark Plati
Interview for Strange Fascination, David Buckley

In keeping with the cut-and-paste nature of Earthling‘s music, David Bowie opted for digitally manipulated cover artwork.

The photograph of Bowie, in which he stood with his back to the observer, was taken by Frank W Ockenfels III. Bowie wore a frock coat in the livery of the United Kingdom flag, which had first appeared in public during the Outside Summer Festivals Tour.

The coat was designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen, and was inspired by Gavin Turk’s 1995 artwork Indoor Flag.

Frank Ockenfels took the photograph, and then Dave De Angelis, who’s a really good computer designer in England, squeezed in a bit of England in front of me, as I was in New York when I shot that.
David Bowie
The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg

The inner sleeve contained more manipulated portraits, this time of Bowie’s band. There were also images that harked back to Bowie’s drug-addicted mid-70s. One was “a satellite made out of silver foil from a Marlboro packet … part of an art movie I made in 1974.”

Another, which also appeared on the ‘Little Wonder’ single covers, was a Kirlian photograph of Bowie’s fingertip and crucifix, taken in April 1975. Kirlian images were captured by placing objects onto sheet photographic film overlaid onto a metal plate. When a high voltage current is quickly applied, it created an exposure on the film, which some people believed captured the aura of an subject.

Bowie was given a Kirlian photograph machine by Dr Thelma Moss at UCLA’s Department of Parapsychology. He took two photographs of his fingertip and a crucifix, the second one thirty minutes after consuming cocaine. The image used for Earthling was adapted from the later image.