Abdulmajid (Philip Glass, “Heroes” Symphony, 1996).

Like “All Saints” and “Some Are,” “Abdulmajid” is allegedly an outtake from the Low“Heroes” sessions, though it was likely tarted up in 1991 before being released (in this case, on the Ryko CD reissue of “Heroes”). As with “All Saints,” which was named after Brian Eno’s ’90s record label, “Abdulmajid” has an anachronistic title, taking its name from Bowie’s second wife, Iman, who he married in 1992.

A rhythm track that’s eventually graced by a three-note melody on synthesizer, “Abdulmajid” calls back to the instrumental miniatures on Eno’s Another Green World. Its overall sound is reminiscent of Can’s early ’70s records, and it also hints at the path Bowie would take with Lodger (if it’s not actually a fragment from the Lodger sessions). It’s fine as B-side material, but if the likes of “Abdulmajid” are considered top outtakes from the Berlin-era sessions, it’s obvious that Bowie, Visconti and Eno used all the best stock in the first go.

Recorded ca. 1977, mixed ca. 1991. Used by Philip Glass as the second movement of his “Heroes” Symphony, composed 1996, recorded 1997.

Top: Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, as photographed in New York by Francesco Scavullo, ca. May 1977.

17 Responses to Abdulmajid

  1. Brendan O'Lear says:

    Nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t fit anywhere. If I had to place this anywhere, I’d put it closer to Eno’s “Before and After Science.” But it makes a good ‘bonus track’.

  2. Craig Campbell says:

    It bounces along OK, without doing much, but that was probably intended. If there are any more doodles like this, from whatever era, they’d be some compensation for the utter lack of anything new. He should be delving deep into avant-garde and experimentation now, at his age, not giving a damn about sales and just giving us something intelligent. Instead of sitting meekly by Mrs B’s side, growing old. On the other hand, I suppose he’s earned his rest and owes us nothing. But you just feel DB must still have some fascinating musical ideas in his head, if only he could be bothered.
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    • Jeremy Earl says:

      What you’ve said is exactly what I’ve been thinking for years. Hopefully he’ll do it.

  3. Jeremy Earl says:

    I’ve always thought that this song came from the same period as Crystal Japan for some reason, even though they are pretty different from each other. I’m probably totally wrong! Just maybe it wasn’t labelled and Bowie forgot were it sat in terms of dates.

  4. diamond dog says:

    Its an ok Bonus but to me seems not to match the heroes soundscape , sounds like a fragment of an unfinished sketch.I agree Mr. Campbell he should have gone the way of someone like david sylvian obscure and interesting much like the material on buddha of suburbia. Anyway as you said if this was the best outtake at the time it says a lot about the archive.

  5. Brendan O'Lear says:

    Some interesting speculation on alternative latter-year career paths. For what it’s worth, I think he would have made a good writer or comedy actor in an Alec Guinness/Terry Thomas kind of way.

  6. diamond dog says:

    Bowie as Oi Wan mmmmm there’s a thought !! I’ve always thought he should leave acting alone but there were exceptions like MWFTE and merry xmas mr lawrence I think he is excellent in those films and ok in the hunger. Not sure about writing as the only things I’ve read of his were the pretentious 1 OUTSIDE essays?

  7. diamond dog says:

    OBI WAN that should be damn this blackberry!!!!

  8. Craig Campbell says:

    You know these online petitions, where enough fans get together and cajole their hero into doing something? Like Neil Young’s On The Beach, where thousands petitioned and eventually, the man got it rereleased on CD. Maybe if we can get enough people on here – reading the best Bowie blog in the world – then we can bully DB into getting off the couch, getting a hold of some ideas and doing something.
    These days, all he needs is a quiet room in the mansion, a MacBook with ProTools, some virtual synths, a guitar and a drum machine. He could doodle and put it out as downloadable for completists and DB freaks like us. We don’t want pop hits and bollocks, just to hear what he’s hearing in his head these days. Dylan and Neil Young and Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash have done some great stuff about being a certain age and how it feels. Why can’t he? Instrumental stuff, bonkers versions of his old material, whatever. Let’s all go to DB’s front door, knock hard and demand some ambient DB-in-his-60s stuff! Hmmm, this wine is going down a treat . . . if only . . .
    Toy is a little picture of what he can do without even having to write new material. He could do that if he is feeling really lazy. Or Eno-style quiet background stuff. When I was growing up in the ’70s, I hung on his every utterance, I studied his lyrics like a new-found Bible. Jeez, I even went out and bought clothes like his. I demand to know what musical thoughts he has now. If he doesn’t come through, I’ll . . . I’ll . . . stamp my feet.
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  9. diamond dog says:

    Gotta say I maybe in a minority but I was disappointed with Toy , nothing on there reminded me of the man who recorded golden years. As I’ve stated before the closest I believe we came to for sheer brilliance was The buddha of suburbia , in my umble opinion the best work his has done post Let’s dance. Perhaps Bowie has now had enough of the fame game and becoming a father later in life has fullfilled all his needs. Since his ‘illness’ it perhaps dawned on him he would like to see his child grow up and not miss a minute. Like Lennon he is probably working on material ready to return for a big album. Perhaps he reads this blog and is astounded by the great material he has made and sad that that he finds it hard to get back to that place…..he needs to hurry up let’s face it non of us are getting any younger.

    • Jeremy Earl says:

      Buddha of Suburbia is perhaps his most consistently excellent album he’s done since Lets Dance ( now we say Lets Dance instead of Scary Monsters?) I agree. However I find Toy to be so refreshing and surprising. I didn’t think that it would be as good as it turned out to be. They recorded most of it live and you can hear that. It sounds vital which is great considering it is mostly old songs.

      But yes, he need to hurry up!!!

    • David L says:

      Agreed on Buddha. Just a brilliant album, a joy to listen to from start to finish. it’s too bad its reception was so badly handled.

      And yeah, whoever thought Bowie would turn into JD Salinger? Let’s hope he’s been stockpiling material, even if he hasn’t been releasing it. I find it hard to believe that someone could simply turn off their creative impulses — especially one as prolific as Bowie. Perhaps having a heart attack could have that exact effect, though.

  10. Riot Nrrrd™ says:

    “It’s fine as B-side material, but if the likes of “Abdulmajid” are considered top outtakes from the Berlin-era sessions, it’s obvious that Bowie, Visconti and Eno used all the best stock in the first go.”

    I love this blog. Really. I do. It’s OCD to the extreme, which matches my personality to a T.

    But this statement is ridiculous. Are you all f*cking high? This track is phenomenal. A “doodle”? Does that mean almost all the tracks on side 2 of “Low” and ““Heroes”” are just “doodles”?!? This track is AMAZING for being 32-ish years old!

  11. Andrew says:

    I’m with Riot Nrrrd, Abdulmajid is superb, & judging by Some Are & All Saints – some amazing stuff got sadly neglected from back then.

  12. Mr Tagomi says:

    Agreed. I think all three are really good. Maybe not as ambitious as the album material, but still really good.

  13. Mr Tagomi says:

    Seems to me that there’s a suspicious similarity between the bass ostinato notes on Abdulmajid and those on the Walker Brothers’ Fat Mama Kick.

  14. Sparkina says:

    Pure enchantment. I think this was an unnamed outtake that the Thin White Emperor (higher than a duke. Bowie’s the frickin emperor of rock-n-roll) released later and titled after his lovely empress-consort.

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