In concert

Despite its chart success, David Bowie rarely performed ‘Sound And Vision’ in concert prior to 1990.

The first live performance came at Earl’s Court in London on 1 July 1978, on the final date of the British leg of the Isolar II Tour. The recording was first released on the semi-official album 1995 album RarestOneBowie, and again on Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) in 2018.

“Here’s something we haven’t done before,” he told the 20,000 members of the audience, adding: “This is all last night stuff, folks!”

During the second encore, a kid in the crowd threw his sailor hat to David, who took off his own and put it on, then he came over and put his cap on my head at a careless angle. As he turned back, Leroy appeared with an armful of caps and David handed them out.

As ‘Rebel Rebel’ ended he threw his cap into the crowd and we all did the same as we ran off. (Penny was out there praying, Sean, please don’t throw yours!) This time we didn’t dive into the cars David wanted to go out again.

“What can we do?” he wondered. “Can anyone remember ‘Sound And Vision’?”

So that night, and no other, we played ‘Sound And Vision’, the ridiculous Mantovani strings singing over the rapturous crowd, and I was taken back to a night a year ago in a bar in Copenhagen when I heard this playing and wondered if David ever remembered a group called Fumble and a piano player called Sean.

Sean Mayes
Life On Tour With Bowie

Perhaps inevitably, the song was performed throughout 1990’s Sound + Vision Tour. ‘Sound And Vision’ also lent its name for a box set anthology of rare and unreleased recordings, released by Rykodisc in 1989.

The song was revived once again for the Heathen and Reality tours, and assorted one-off shows between 2002 and 2004. Bowie sang ‘Sound And Vision’ in public for the final time on 30 March 2004 at the Fleet Center in Boston, MA.

Remixes, reissues

The 1991 Rykodisc reissue of Low contained three bonus tracks: the previously-unreleased ‘Some Are’ and ‘All Saints’, and a new remix of ‘Sound And Vision’.

This remix, by David Richards, was notable for its additional drums and saxophone. It was also the third track on the Sound And Vision Remix EP, released in 1991 and credited to David Bowie vs 808 State.

Released in the USA, the other tracks on the EP were the 808 Gift mix; 808 ‘lectric Blue remix instrumental; and the original album version. In March 2010, Bowie’s official website announced that the EP would be made available as a digital download in June.

In February 2013 a new remix of ‘Sound And Vision’ was announced. It was created by Sonjay Prabhakar for a Sony Xperia Z smartphone advertisement. It was released as a digital download on 7 October, having previously only been available on a rare promotional CD titled David Bowie – Sound And Vision 2013.

The remix, which lasted for 1:50, contained one of Bowie’s vocal lines, another by Mary Hopkin, and a new piano part by Rob Gentry.

You may remember the Sound and Vision remix we told you about back in February that was commissioned for Sony’s Xperia™ Z smartphone advertising campaign.

Indeed, many of you enquired how you could get your hands on a longer version than the tantalising 58 second one used in the advert.

Well, now your prayers have been answered as Parlophone Records will release a new longer mix as a digital download on October 7th.

Sound and Vision 2013 is a beautifully haunting reimagining of the song, re-worked from the original stems by remixer Sonjay Prabhakar.

By stripping away much of the original instrumentation and adding a new piano by Rob Gentry (programmed by Sonjay Prabhakar), while keeping Bowie’s original lead vocal and Mary Hopkin’s backing vocal, the song takes on a new reflective resonance.

Sound and Vision originally appeared on David Bowie’s 1977 Low album and was released as a single in the UK on 11th February of that year, reaching number 3 on the UK Singles Chart.

Sound and Vision 2013 and the original Sound and Vision will both be available to digitally download from October 7th.

davidbowie.com, 14 August 2013

On 10 February 2017, a 40th anniversary picture disc of ‘Sound And Vision’ was released. It coupled the album version with the Sonjay Prabhakar remix on the b-side.