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"Sound and Vision" is a song and single by David Bowie which appeared on the album Low in 1977.

The song is notable for juxtaposing an uplifting guitar and synthesizer-led instrumental track with Bowie’s withdrawn lyrics. These were drawn from the cocaine-fueled paranoia the singer had lived in while residing in Los Angelesmarker .

In keeping with the minimalist approach of Low, Visconti and Bowie originally recorded the track as an instrumental, bar the backing vocal (performed by Visconti’s wife, Mary Hopkin). Bowie then recorded his vocal after the rest of the band had left the studio, before trimming verses off the lyric, and leaving a relatively lengthy instrumental intro on the finished song.

Selected as a first single from the album, “Sound and Vision” was used by the BBC on trailers at the time. This provided considerable exposure, much needed as Bowie opted to do nothing to promote the single himself, and helped the song to #3. In the US, “Sound and Vision” was less of a hit. At the time in America, the general record-buying public saw Bowie as a disco artist, with the song too much of a departure from his recent singles, and “Sound and Vision” stalled at #69.

The track was initially performed live only once, at Bowie’s concert at Earl’s Courtmarker on July 1, 1978. However, in 1990, for Bowie’s Sound + Vision Tour, it was a regular number – as well as obviously giving name to Bowie’s greatest hits tour. The name had also been used for Rykodisc boxed set anthology in 1989.

In 1991 808 State released an EP of remixes of “Sound and Vision” in America, credited to David Bowie vs. 808 State.

In 2008 the Sea and Cake's cover of this song from their 2003 album One Bedroom was used by Rhapsody in one of their ads.

Track listing

  1. "Sound and Vision" (Bowie) – 3:00
  2. "A New Career in a New Town" (Bowie) – 2:50

Production credits

808 State remix release

  1. "Sound + Vision (808 Gift mix)" - 3:58
  2. "Sound + Vision (808 'lectric Blue remix instrumental)" - 4:08
  3. "Sound + Vision (David Richards remix 1991)" - 4:40
  4. "Sound + Vision (Original version)" - 3:03

Live versions

Other releases

Cover versions


Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5

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