The Buddha Of Suburbia was released on 8 November 1993.
The album was given minimal promotion, and was billed as an “Original Soundtrack Album” – despite it containing new music by David Bowie which, aside from the title track, did not appear in the BBC series.
It was released a week before the Bowie compilation The Singles Collection, which proved more alluring to casual purchasers around Christmastime. The distribution was limited, and did not receive a full worldwide release.
Coupled with the decision to issue the album without an image of Bowie on the front cover – for the first time since the original US ‘cartoon’ cover of The Man Who Sold The World – it was hardly surprising that it was widely overlooked.
The album reached a lowly number 87 in the United Kingdom. Bowie’s television soundtrack was nominated for a Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award, but failed to take the trophy.
I personally think my work in the ’90s has been the best that I could possibly do. It’s proved to have a lot of life and it’s got some strong devotees. From Black Tie…, I think I’ve not put out a shoddy piece of work. I’m very proud of it all. Especially things like The Buddha Of Suburbia, which went – pffft – under the radar. Maybe Buddha was an indication that I’d be going back into more experimental stuff, like Outside, again.
Uncut, October 1999
The single ‘The Buddha Of Suburbia’ was released on 22 November 1993, with ‘Dead Against It’ on the b-side. It peaked at number 35 in the UK charts.
A CD single included the additional tracks ‘South Horizon’ and ‘Buddha Of Suburbia’ (Rock Mix) – the latter of which, with Kravitz on guitar, was the same as the closing track on the album.
Ten promotional CDs were manufactured by BMG for UK radio stations, with an exclusive edit which reversed the word ‘bullshit’. These rare copies are now highly sought after by collectors.
The video for the song featured footage from the BBC series, in addition to shots of Bowie in Bromley. The majority of Bowie’s scenes were filmed in St Matthew’s Drive, a bungalow-lined cul-de-sac, and in Whitehall recreation ground, close to Bowie’s childhood home in Clarence Road.
The video was directed by Roger Michell, who also co-wrote the screenplay and directed the TV adaptation. Two edits of the video were made, one of which omitted shots of Bowie smoking.
Among the list of words Bowie associated with the album is “Pink Floyd”. If you listen to “Bleed Like a Craze Dad” There is a four note guitar lick that is reminiscent of the four note lick that lays the foundation for Pink Floyd’s “Shine on you Crazy Diamond” from the “Wish You Were Here” album. In fact if you take notes 1-2-3-4 from the Floyd song and play them in the order 3-4-1-2, you get the Bowie lick. Wondering if anyone else noticed?