“Get Real” was an out-of-nowhere attempt to revisit Never Let Me Down, an album that Bowie had said he wanted to re-record one day. It’s as though Bowie was toying with previous incarnations of his “commercial” sound during his revisions of Outside in New York in early 1995. “Get Real” alternates a conversational verse/chorus, punctuated throughout by the double-tracked and stereo-panned title hook, with a moodier bridge that has a trace of New Order’s “True Faith” (“I walk the streets not expecting morning sun“).
While the beat and the guitars (it’s a Carlos Alomar-heavy track, especially the arpeggiated line mixed low in the right channel) call back to Bowie’s late unlamented Eighties, the acerbic, spare verse lyric and the chipper melancholy of the bridges suggest his turn-of-the-century albums. An odd, transitional piece that had nowhere to go on Outside, “Get Real” slipped out as a CD single bonus track later in 1995.
Recorded, most likely, at the the Hit Factory, NYC, January-February 1995. First released as a bonus track on the Japanese version of Outside, and on the UK CD single “Strangers When We Meet” (RCA/BMG 74321 32940 2). Also included on the 2004 reissue of Outside.
Top: Heli Lehtonen, “Grandpa and Grandma Working in the Field,” Sweden, 1995.