Outside (David Bowie album)

Outside (David Bowie album)
Studio album by David Bowie
Released 26 September 1995 (1995-09-26)
Recorded Mountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland
Genre Industrial rock, experimental
Length 74:36
Label Arista/BMG
Producer David Bowie, Brian Eno and David Richards
David Bowie chronology
The Buddha of Suburbia
Singles from Outside
  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson"
    Released: September 1995 (1995-09)
  2. "Strangers When We Meet"
    Released: November 1995 (1995-11)
  3. "Hallo Spaceboy"
    Released: 1996 (1996)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars [1]
Blender 3/5 stars [2]
The Music Box 4/5 stars [3]
NME 7/10 stars [4]
Q Magazine 3/5 stars [5]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [6]
Spin 6/10 stars [5]

Outside is a concept album first released 26 September 1995 by David Bowie on Virgin Records, and this "risky" but successful[7] album was Bowie's "highly anticipated" reunion with Brian Eno, whom Bowie had worked with most famously on his Berlin Trilogy.[8] Subtitled "the Ritual Art-Murder of Baby Grace Blue: A non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-Cycle," Outside centres around the characters of a dystopian world on the eve of the 21st century. The album put Bowie back into the mainstream scene of rock music with its singles "The Hearts Filthy Lesson", "Strangers When We Meet", and "Hallo Spaceboy" (notably remixed by the Pet Shop Boys).


History and development

Unlike some of Bowie's previous albums,[9] not a single song was written prior to the band going into the studio.[10] Instead, Bowie wrote many songs alongside the band in improvised sessions.[10] Bowie and Eno also continued the experimental songwriting techniques they'd started using back during the Berlin Trilogy. Bowie stated that:

What Brian did, which was really useful, is he provided everybody with flash cards at the beginning of the day. On each one, a character was written, like "You are the disgruntled member of a South African rock band. Play the notes that were suppressed." ... Because that set the tone for the day, the music would take on all those obscure areas. And it would very rarely lapse into the cliche.[10]

—David Bowie, 1995

The "random cutups" from the Adler story that are part of the album's lyrics and liner notes were written by Bowie, who typed them into his Mac computer and then ran a custom program called the "Verbasiser," which would cut up and reassemble his words electronically, much like he had done with paper, scissors and glue back in the 70's.[10] He would then look at the lyrics while the band played a song and decide "whether I was going to sing, do a dialogue, or become a character. I would improvise with the band, really fast on my feet, getting from one line to another and seeing what worked."[10] Bowie claimed that it took about three and a half hours using this method to create "virtually the entire genesis" of the album Outside.[10]

In interviews, Bowie remarked that the album was meant to reflect the anxiety of the last five years of the millennium:

Overall, a long-term ambition is to make it a series of albums extending to 1999—to try to capture, using this device, what the last five years of this millennium feel like. It's a diary within the diary. The narrative and the stories are not the content—the content is the spaces in between the linear bits. The queasy, strange, textures.... Oh, I've got the fondest hopes for the fin de siecle. I see it as a symbolic sacrificial rite. I see it as a deviance, a pagan wish to appease gods, so we can move on. There's a real spiritual starvation out there being filled by these mutations of what are barely remembered rites and rituals. To take the place of the void left by a non-authoritative church. We have this panic button telling us it's gonna be a colossal madness at the end of this century.[11]


The liner notes feature a short story by Bowie, the Diary of Nathan Adler, which outlines a somewhat dystopian version of the year 1999 in which the government, through its arts commission, had created a new bureau to investigate the phenomenon of Art Crime. In this future, murder and mutilation of bodies had become a new underground art craze. The main character, Nathan Adler, was in the business of deciding what of this was legally acceptable as art and what was, in a word, trash. The album is filled with references to characters and their lives as he investigates the complicated events leading up to the murder of a fourteen-year-old girl. One is meant to assume that Bowie's character, Nathan Adler, works for the British government due to several references to the cities of London and Oxford, but in the liner notes these are revealed to be, at least in some cases, London, Ontario and Oxford, New Jersey, indicating that the entire story may take place in North America—or, indeed, that the distinction between the two places has become blurred and indistinguishable.

Follow-up albums

Initially, Bowie felt he had recorded enough material during the Outside sessions that he voiced his intention to continue the narrative of Outside through a 3-album set.[10] He intended to the call the second follow-up album "Contamination," and had sketched out the characters for the album (including some "17th century people") and had expected the album to be released in the spring of '97.[12] Despite this, no direct follow-up to the album was ever produced, and Bowie's next album was his jungle and drum and bass-influenced work Earthling.

On having over-recorded for the album, he stated:

The one thing I can truly, seriously think about in the future that I would like to get my teeth into—it's just so daunting—is the rest of the work that [Brian] Eno and I did when we started to do the Outside album ['95]. We did improv for eight days, and we had something in the area of 20 hours' worth of stuff that I just cannot begin to get close to listening to. But there are some absolute gems in there...[13]

And of continuing the story begun in Outside, he said:

I quite forsee that, next year, we'll develop a whole new slew of other characters or maybe re-introduce some of these or even negate some of them. Maybe we'll never find Baby Grace. Maybe Adler will become the next victim. I don't know. And that's what's kind of interesting. Maybe we'll just get bored with murder as art and move into another area of our society. It's all up for grabs. So I'm quite interested in the future of this thing.[10]

—David Bowie, 1995

Critical reviews

Rolling Stone magazine gave the album 3 out of 5 stars, criticizing the interspersed narrative tracks, stating "It's the superfluous wordage - the intrusive spoken monologues, the jury-rigged cybernoir narrative, the overelaborate characterizations - that damn near sink the record."[8] However, they generally praised the music, saying that it's "arguably his best work since the '70s"[14] and that the music is "a potent collection of avant-garage riffs and rhythm notions." They went on to appreciate Bowie's lyrics as "smart," "effective," and "sly" especially on songs such as "I Have Not Been to Oxford Town" and "A Small Plot of Land."[8]


From late 1995 to early 1996, Bowie toured with Nine Inch Nails in support of his album, called the "Outside Tour."[14]

Track listing

All lyrics written by David Bowie; music compositions listed below. Listed in italics are the characters who are singing in each particular song.

  1. "Leon Takes Us Outside" Leon Blank – 1:25 (Bowie, Brian Eno, Reeves Gabrels, Mike Garson, Erdal Kizilcay, Sterling Campbell)
  2. "Outside" Prologue – 4:04 (Keith Armstrong, Bowie)
  3. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson" Detective Nathan Adler – 4:57 (Bowie, Eno, Gabrels, Garson, Kizilcay, Campbell)
  4. "A Small Plot of Land" The residents of Oxford Town, New Jersey – 6:34 (Bowie, Eno, Gabrels, Garson, Kizilcay, Campbell)
  5. "(Segue) – Baby Grace (A Horrid Cassette)" Baby Grace Blue – 1:39 (Bowie, Eno, Gabrels, Garson, Kizilcay, Campbell)
  6. "Hallo Spaceboy" Paddy – 5:14 (Bowie, Eno)
  7. "The Motel" Leon Blank – 6:49 (Bowie)
  8. "I Have Not Been to Oxford Town" Leon Blank – 3:47 (Bowie, Eno)
  9. "No Control" Detective Nathan Adler – 4:33 (Bowie, Eno)
  10. "(Segue) – Algeria Touchshriek" Algeria Touchshriek – 2:03 (Bowie, Eno, Gabrels, Garson, Kizilcay, Campbell)
  11. "The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (as Beauty)" The Artist/Minotaur – 4:21 (Bowie, Eno, Gabrels)
  12. "(Segue) – Ramona A. Stone/I Am With Name" Ramona A. Stone and her acolytes – 4:01 (Bowie, Eno, Gabrels, Garson, Kizilcay, Campbell)
  13. "Wishful Beginnings" The Artist/Minotaur – 5:08 (Bowie, Eno)
  14. "We Prick You" Members of the Court of Justice – 4:33 (Bowie, Eno)
  15. "(Segue) – Nathan Adler" Detective Nathan Adler – 1:00 (Bowie, Eno, Gabrels, Garson, Kizilcay, Campbell)
  16. "I'm Deranged" The Artist/Minotaur – 4:31 (Bowie, Eno)
  17. "Thru' These Architects Eyes" Leon Blank – 4:22 (Bowie, Gabrels)
  18. "(Segue) – Nathan Adler" Detective Nathan Adler – 0:28 (Bowie, Eno)
  19. "Strangers When We Meet" Leon Blank – 5:07 (Bowie)

"I Am With Name" contains a sample from "The Brian May Band Live at Brixton Academy".[15]

Alternative versions

The Japanese release of the album had "Get Real" as an additional track, as did the 2004 Sony reissue.

An edited version called Excerpts from Outside was released as an LP in 1995. In 1996 the album was released as version 2, but with different versions of it being distributed in Australia, Japan and Europe. In Europe, the re-edition was released by BMG without "Wishful Beginnings", but with the Pet Shop Boys remix of "Hallo Spaceboy" as the last track. In Australia and Japan, version 2 was released as a double-disc album, with the first one being the untouched original disc of Outside, and the second one including remixes and live versions already released on the 1995–1996 singles. In 2004 the album was again released as a limited 2CD edition.

Excerpts from LP version

  1. "Leon Takes Us Outside (edit)" – 0:24
  2. "Outside" – 4:04
  3. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson" – 4:57
  4. "A Small Plot of Land" – 6:34
  5. "Segue – Baby Grace Blue (A Horrid Cassette)" – 1:39
  6. "Hallo Spaceboy" – 5:14
  7. "The Motel (edit)" – 5:03
  8. "I Have Not Been to Oxford Town" – 3:47
  9. "The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (as Beauty)" – 4:21
  10. "Segue – Ramona A. Stone / I am with Name" – 4:01
  11. "We Prick You" – 4:33
  12. "Segue – Nathan Adler" – 1:00
  13. "I'm Deranged" – 4:31

Australian bonus disc – version 2

  1. "Hallo Spaceboy (Pet Shop Boys remix)" – 4:26
  2. "Under Pressure (live version)" – 4:08
  3. "Moonage Daydream (live version)" – 5:29
  4. "The Man Who Sold the World (live version)" – 3:35
  5. "Strangers When We Meet (edit)" – 4:21
  6. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Bowie mix)" – 4:56

The Japanese version of the bonus disc had the "Rubber mix" of "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" instead of the "Bowie mix".

2004 limited 2CD-edition

  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Trent Reznor Alternative Mix)" – 5:20
  2. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Rubber Mix)" – 7:41
  3. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Simple Test Mix)" – 6:38
  4. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Filthy Mix)" – 5:51
  5. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Good Karma Mix by Tim Simenon)" – 5:00
  6. "A Small Plot of Land (Basquiat)" – 2:48
  7. "Hallo Spaceboy (12" Remix)" – 6:45
  8. "Hallo Spaceboy (Double Click Mix)" – 7:47
  9. "Hallo Spaceboy (Instrumental)" – 7:41
  10. "Hallo Spaceboy (Lost in Space Mix)" – 6:29
  11. "I am with Name (Album Version)" – 4:01
  12. "I'm Deranged (Jungle Mix)" – 7:00
  13. "Get Real" – 2:49
  14. "Nothing to be Desired" – 2:15



Year Chart Position
1995 Norway's album chart 15
UK album chart 8
US Billboard 21

Production credits

  • Mixing and additional treatments:
    • David Richards
    • David Bowie
  • Album Design & Image Manipulation:
    • Denovo
  • Album Cover Concept:
    • David Bowie
    • Denovo
  • Front Cover Painting:
    • "Head of DB" (11"x11") acrylic on canvas 1995 by David Bowie
  • Photography:
    • John Scarisbrick
  • Stylist:
    • Jennifer Elster
  • Musicians:
    • David Bowie: Vocals, Saxophone, Guitar, Keyboards
    • Brian Eno: Synthesizers, Treatments, Strategies
    • Reeves Gabrels: Guitar
    • Erdal Kizilcay: Bass, Keyboards
    • Mike Garson: Grand piano
    • Sterling Campbell: Drums
    • Carlos Alomar: Rhythm guitar
    • Joey Baron: Drums
    • Yossi Fine: Bass
    • Tom Frish: Additional guitar on Strangers When We Meet
    • Kevin Armstrong: Additional guitar on Thru' These Architect's Eyes
    • Bryony, Lola, Josey and Ruby Edwards: Background vocals on The Heart's Filthy Lesson and I Am With Name


  1. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/r220799
  2. ^ "1. Outside – Blender". Blender. http://www.blender.com/guide/back-catalogue/53973/1-outside.html. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  3. ^ David Bowie - Outside (Album Review)
  4. ^ (1995/23/09)
  5. ^ a b (1995/10/01)
  6. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/davidbowie/albums/album/155176/review/5942668/outside
  7. ^ Pond, Steve (March 1997), "Beyond Bowie", Live! magazine: 38-41, 93 
  8. ^ a b c "Art Crime" by David Fricke for Rolling Stone magazine, 19 October 1995, page 148
  9. ^ Isler, Scott (August 1987), "David Bowie Opens Up - A Little", Musician (106): 60-73 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Paul, George A. (1995), "Bowie Outside Looking In", Axcess magazine 3 (5): 60-62 
  11. ^ Roberts, Chris (October 1995). "Action Painting". Ikon. http://www.algonet.se/~bassman/articles/95/i.html. 
  12. ^ Kuipers, Dean (March 1997), "David Bowie: Is There Life on Earth?", Raygun magazine (44) 
  13. ^ Orzeck, Kurt (August 2003). "David Bowie Faces Reality". Ice. http://www.algonet.se/~bassman/articles/03/ice.html. 
  14. ^ a b Weisel, Al (2 November 1995), "Performance: Nine Inch Nails / David Bowie", Rolling Stone magazine (720): 28 
  15. ^ I Am With Name

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