David Bowie’s long-lost 2001 album Toy has finally been released as part of Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001), an 11CD or 18LP box set containing the 2001 album on CD or 2XLP. The release will be followed by a 3CD or six 10-inch vinyl box set of Toy comprising the album alongside a selection of unplugged versions, entitled Toy: Box, which will be released on January 7th, 2022.
The album, which was was initially leaked back in 2011, contains polished, updated, and entirely re-recorded versions of some of David Bowie’s pre ‘Space Oddity’ songs. Intended for release when Bowie was in the midst of a rebrand, following the brash declaration that he would no longer be performing any of his classic songs live, the album was set to follow the 1999 record Hours, but was held back after a disagreement between Bowie and Virgin Records.
Repackaged Bowie box sets have always been ten-a-penny, but the tendency to revamp old material or unearth hidden gems from the archives certainly reached its peaks after his death. As the musician’s co-producer Mark Plati implies, fans are still eager to keep the spirit of the Bowie alive. “‘Toy’ is like a moment in time captured in an amber of joy, fire and energy,” he said.
Toy is certainly one of the most fascinating of Bowie’s turn-of-the-millennium records. The late ’90s saw him attempt to embrace everything from grunge (hence the long locks) to dance music. However, as was the case with 1999’s Hours, Bowie was often consumed by his desire to sound up-to-the-minute, leaving him with songs that betrayed only his increasing irrelevance.
What makes Toy so fascinating is that reveals Bowie’s attempts to delve back into his own past. As Plati notes: “David revisited and re-examined his work from decades prior through prisms of experience and fresh perspective – a parallel not lost on me as I now revisit it twenty years later.”
In Toy, Bowie can be heard attempting to develop something startlingly new by returning to something very old, a goal he would only achieve with the release of Blackstar; an album that sounds utterly unlike anything else in his catalogue.