Real Cool World singleWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: 1992
Producer: Nile Rodgers
Engineer: Hugo Dwyer

Released: 10 August 1992

Personnel

David Bowie: vocals, saxophone
Nile Rodgers: guitar
Richard Hilton: keyboards
Barry Campbell: bass guitar
Sterling Campbell: drums

‘Real Cool World’ was David Bowie’s first collaboration with producer Nile Rodgers after the success of 1983’s Let’s Dance.

It was written and recorded for the soundtrack of the 1992 live action/animation hybrid Cool World, directed by Ralph Bakshi and starring Kim Basinger, Gabriel Byrne and Brad Pitt. Also on the soundtrack was music by Moby, Ministry, and Future Sound of London.

Excepting the ‘Fame 90’ remix, ‘Real Cool World’ was Bowie’s first solo work since 1987’s Never Let Me Down, and foreshadowed his post-Tin Machine direction on Black Tie White Noise.

Let’s Dance was way bigger than he expected it to be. But Let’s Dance is still a cool record. It’s just big. It’s a big cool record. And that sort of changes your perspective. So when we got back together to do the Bakshi thing, well that’s a single for a film. It does what it does, no big deal.
Nile Rodgers
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

‘Real Cool World’ was recorded during the sessions for Black Tie White Noise, but was set aside for the film soundtrack midway through the project.

One song was repurposed along the way. We ended up doing a theme song for a movie called Cool World, ‘Real Cool World’. Working with Nile this happens a lot – things get repurposed sometimes: ‘I have the perfect thing for that,’ and it ends up being used for something else. ‘Real Cool World’ was a song we had started with a different intention and David came in and said we were going to start the process of turning it into this other project.

He will throw things over the side of the boat wholesale if he feels in the mood. He’ll tear it down and start all over again if he feels like it. He’s a painterly artist in that way. Apparently Michelangelo painted over the Sistine Chapel ceiling a few times. That informs everything [Bowie] does – he doesn’t feel beholden to any expectation or career decision or financial decision. It’s as pure an artistic process as I’ve been privy to. He was only motivated by what was working for him at that moment.

Richard Hilton, keyboards
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

The release

‘Real Cool World’ was released as a single on 10 August 1992.

The single was not a commercial success, spending just one week in the UK singles chart at number 53. It reached the top 20 in the Netherlands and Sweden.

There were various remixes across multiple formats, including three 12″ singles. The first contained ‘Real Cool World’ (Edit) lasting 4:15, and ‘Real Cool World’ (Instrumental) – 4:29.

A second 12″ single had four remixes: a 12″ Club Mix (5:28); Cool Dub Thing #2 (6:54); Cool Dub Thing #1 (7:28); Cool Dub Overture (9:10).

A third single contained an Album Edit (4:15); Radio Remix (4:23); Cool Dub Thing #1 (7:28); 12″ Club Mix (5:28); Cool Dub Overture (9:10); and Cool Dub Thing #2 (6:54).

The Album Edit also appeared on the soundtrack album Songs From The Cool World, and on the bonus disc in the 10th anniversary version of Black Tie White Noise.