David Bowie All Saints

Originally conceived as a Christmas present for his friends, All Saints is a collection of Bowie instrumental tracks between 1977 and 1999 that have now been made commercially available. You can imagine the reactions at the time, "Uh, thanks Dave, how generous of you." Hopefully the original recipients of this collection were also serious fans of the thin white duke's more experimental moments. Tracks are collected from relatively recent projects like Buddha of Suburbia and Hours and the Philip Glass-adapted Low Symphony, with the bulk of the material culled from the Brian Eno-inspired Heroes and Low sessions. The tracks are sequenced to develop a seamless continuity flowing from vocal-free pop tracks like "A New Career In A New Town" to the more adventurous ambient material co-written with Brian Eno, like "Warszawa." The like-mindedness of all these recordings is quite impressive, considering the 22-year span. The only unreleased tracks appear to be leftovers from the Low and Heroes sessions, including the dark ambient Bowie/Eno collaborations "All Saints" and "Abdulmajid," along with a grand melodic composition called "Crystal Japan." As an entity, the album's gentle halcyon vibe is surprisingly effective as a continuous play, but some kind of Bowie-penned liner notes might have been nice to complete this reissue package. (Sony)