Adding to the gift-like nature of “The Next Day” is an album-length disc of bonus material that accompanied a three-disc special edition of “The Next Day,” issued a few months after the original album release. The third disc was a collection of videos of some of the songs from the original album. The name, “The Next Day Extra” actually refers to the entire three-disc collection, however I think of the 10-song bonus disc as a complete album, because that’s what it is.
I’ve mentioned before that bonus materials usually detract from albums. I mean that when the bonus songs appear on the same disc, at the end of what otherwise would have been the original collection. Since Bowie paid particular attention to song order, especially in his earlier albums, even good songs tacked on at the end take away from the listening experience as intended by the artist. In his later albums, Bowie would sometimes include separate bonus discs. He did this with editions I have of “Heathen” and “The Next Day”— I’m fine with that. Grateful, actually. “The Next Day Extra” takes this concept to an unprecedented level for Bowie.
In all my collection of Bowie bonus material, this is far and away the best. To begin with, there’s 40 minutes of music here. Eight of the ten songs were not included in the original release of, “The Next Day.” Several editions of “The Next Day” exist, and some of the “Extra” songs appeared early on as bonus material added on to the main album in some editions, however there are no true duplicate songs shared between the two audio discs in the three-disc “Extra” collection. Of the two remixes, “Love is Lost” is considerably different than the first version of the song, while “I’d Rather Be High” is less distinct.
The rest of the songs are of comparable quality to the ones on the main album. Some of these songs are almost stereotypes of Bowie songs. There’s an alien-come-to-earth song, “Born in a UFO.” There’s a song about a rock star with a god complex, “Atomica.” There’s an instrumental, “The Plan.” There’s a song about addiction, “Like a Rocket Man” (complete with its seeming Elton John reference). And while Bowie is not necessarily thought of for his songs about contemporary social issues, he actually has several, and there’s a good one here in, “I’ll Take You There” about immigration to the United States.
All together, the collection is pretty satisfying. I’m not exactly sure why it wasn’t released by itself under a different title. My best guess is that after ten years of not releasing any new music, Bowie had quite a bit to put out there, probably with the intent of picking up where he left off of a new album every two years or so. Today, it seems both the original single “Next Day” and the three-disc set are available to purchase. There’s too much good, original material in “Extra” to settle with the one disc, so this is the one to get.