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The Buddha of Suburbia is a 1993 soundtrack album by David Bowie which accompanied the 4-part television serial The Buddha of Suburbia on BBC2 (itself adapted from the book The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi).

The album is David Bowie's nineteenth full-length studio recording, sitting between Black Tie White Noise (also released in 1993) and Outside (1995). It was produced and mixed at Mountain Studios (Montreuxmarker) in Switzerlandmarker and according to Bowie it took only six days to write and record, but fifteen days to mix due to some "technical breakdowns".

The album has been classified as a soundtrack although the title track was the only song to be featured in the television programme (see below).

Two of the tracks are ambient instrumentals and quite similar to Bowie's work with Brian Eno in the late 1970s. Other tracks on the album make strong use of saxophone, electronic keyboards and piano.


Although classified in the album cover as a soundtrack, this album is not the soundtrack Bowie wrote for the BBC dramatization of Hanif Kureishi's book with the same name (which remains unreleased). Rather, after writing the actual soundtrack Bowie decided to work further on the same motifs, creating the radically different pieces that are heard on the album. Only the title track remained unaltered from the original soundtrack.

Deleted album

Despite Bowie once hailing it as his favourite album the American and European versions were deleted for many years, or as Bowie put it: "The album itself only got one review, a good one as it happens, and is virtually non-existent as far as my catalogue goes - it was designated a soundtrack and got zilch in the way of marketing money. A real shame."

To confuse matters even more a "Buddha of Suburbia" single was also released in various guises, including a CD with holographic print. Consequently the album itself is sometimes overlooked, despite the fact it is a full length studio recording and featured 10 tracks previously unreleased by the artist.

The album was re-issued on 17 September 2007, in the UK and on 2 October 2007 in the U.S. The official press release showed that the cover of the re-issue would be similar to the 1995 U.S. cover, but in colour and Bowie holding a slightly different pose, however the actual cover is just a colorized version of the original U.S. cover art. The re-issue contains both Bowie's former liner notes from the original UK issue and the inner artwork of the original U.S. issue.


On the European version of the album Bowie provides comprehensive liner notes on the themes and production techniques involved, and reveals a list of 'residue from the 1970s' as his inspiration for the songs. The list includes the following references:

Free association lyrics, Pink Floyd, Harry Partch, Costume, Blues Clubs, Unter den Lindenmarker, Brucke Museum, Pet Sounds, Friends of the Krays, Roxy Music, T-Rex, The Casserole, Neu, Kraftwerk, Bromleymarker, Croydonmarker, Eno, Prostitutes & Sohomarker, Ronnie Scott's Clubmarker, Travels through Russia, Loneliness, O'Jays, Philip Glass in New Yorkmarker clubs, Die Mauer, Drugs.


  • Bowie re-worked the "Strangers When We Meet" track for his Outside album and released it as a single in 1995. Hence there are two different album versions of this song in existence.
  • The album was first released in the UK and included extensive liner notes by Bowie that were not included with the later U.S. release.
  • The album was packaged with an alternative cover in the U.S. and was not released until 1995 (possibly due to a dispute between Bowie and the music industry).
  • The "Ian Fish, U.K. Heir" track is an anagram of Hanif Kureishi.
  • Arista/BMG released a special edition of the soundtrack in a translucent plastic box, packaged with the Hanif Kureishi book. The catalogue number is Arista/BMG 4321178222.
  • The 2007 re-issue incorrectly lists "The Mysteries" as "The Mysterie".

Track listing

All songs written by David Bowie.

  1. "Buddha of Suburbia" – 4:28
  2. "Sex and the Church" – 6:25
  3. "South Horizon" – 5:26
  4. "The Mysteries" – 7:12
  5. "Bleed Like a Craze, Dad" – 5:22
  6. "Strangers When We Meet" – 4:58
  7. "Dead Against It" – 5:48
  8. "Untitled No. 1" – 5:01
  9. "Ian Fish, U.K. Heir" – 6:27
  10. "Buddha of Suburbia" (featuring Lenny Kravitz on guitar) – 4:19

Production credits


External links

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