July 2012

The third major bout of studio sessions for The Next Day‘s backing tracks came towards the end of July 2012.

David Bowie’s long-term collaborators Earl Slick and Sterling Campbell were brought in to play guitar and drums respectively, and Tony Visconti played bass guitar.

‘Born In A UFO’ had originally been recorded on 5 May 2011, but was abandoned in favour of a new version laid down on 23 July.

This was followed by ‘Valentine’s Day’ on 24 July, (You Will) Set The World On Fire on 25 July, and a number of guitar overdubs for songs including ‘Dirty Boys’ and ‘Atomica’.

I heard about it directly from David last May. We were talking on the phone and he goes, “What’s your schedule like?” I said, “I’m around. What have you got in mind?” One conversation led to the other, and we scheduled to go into the studio in July.

He had already been working on [the album], unbeknownst to me. He had already cut some tracks. On my first day it was myself, David, Tony Visconti and drummer Sterling Campbell. We cut some new ones. When we finished those up David played me bits and bobs from the rest of the record. He said, “Oh, what do you think about this or that?” We then picked out some songs for me to play on.

The whole thing was very casual, and it’s all done as a group effort. We’ll sit down and he’ll play me a song and I’ll say if I have a part in mind. It’s a very give-and-take, very casual way of working. Sometimes he’ll play me a little rough sketch on the guitar and say, “That’s the idea. Now take it where you want it to go.”

I was only there for a week. I did all my work in a week. Last week of July, or something like that. All I know is that it was hot as hell outside.

Earl Slick
Rolling Stone, 25 January 2013

The Next Day was completed with a final set of overdub sessions for vocals and additional instruments. Bowie recorded his vocals for ‘Valentine’s Day’ on 18 September, ‘Born In A UFO’ on 26 September, and ‘(You Will) Set The World On Fire’ on the following day. His vocals for ‘Dancing Out In Space’ were laid down on 8 October, and ‘So She’ on 23 October.

In all, 29 songs were recorded for The Next Day. Fourteen were released on the album, with three others – ‘So She’, ‘Plan’, and ‘I’ll Take You There’ – issued on the deluxe edition. ‘God Bless The Girl’ was included on the Japanese edition of the album.

All of those tracks, plus an additional four songs and two remixes, were included on The Next Day Extra, a triple-disc box set containing two CDs and a DVD. Those four new songs – ‘Atomica’, ‘The Informer’, ‘Like A Rocket Man’, and ‘Born In A UFO’ – had been completed during recording sessions which took place in August 2013.

Bowie and Visconti had planned to complete the remaining seven songs for a future release.

We’re not going to give up on the songs that haven’t made this one. We’re going to go back and look at them because they’re spectacular musical pieces, they just haven’t been finished lyrically. I think he’s on a roll, and will possibly return to the studio later this year. If people don’t like this album then maybe he won’t, but it doesn’t matter to him. He told me what he wants to do is make records. He does not want to tour. He’s been doing it for more than 30 years and he’s tired of it. I’ve been with him on tour and no matter how cosseted they are they lose sleep, they get miserable and lonely. After being on stage they just want to get into the limo and crash. It’s gruelling and the star of the show has to deliver most on stage.
Tony Visconti
The Times, 12 January 2013

However, the project was abandoned, and Bowie moved on to new interests, leading to the ‘Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)’ single and the Blackstar album.

They were left in various states of uncertainty, and for the life of me I can only remember the working title of one track, ‘Chump’. Other song titles just had numbers, probably related to David’s note-keeping. Of the seven remaining, none ever had melodies with lyrics, or just ‘la las’ added, so nothing can be done with them. David’s voice is not on them. He moved on and resumed writing afresh for Blackstar. Nothing from The Next Day was used for Blackstar.
Tony Visconti, 2016
The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg