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The Times OCTOBER 24, 2016 - by David Sanderson

LAST SONG SHOWS BOWIE'S STAR WAS BLAZING UNTIL THE VERY END

A previously unknown song that shows David Bowie going out in a "blaze of glory" has been identified as the musician's last complete recorded song.

The song, Blaze, was finished by the musician at the end of his recording sessions for his final album Blackstar and is described as transporting the listener on waves of optimism.

The Blackstar recordings and simultaneous work on the Lazarus musical were carried out while Bowie had the shadow of cancer hanging over him.

His death in January shocked fans and there were huge outpourings of grief, days after the critically acclaimed album was released.

Blaze was unearthed during research into The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg, who has written an updated guide to perhaps the world's greatest pop star.

Pegg writes that the song shows that Bowie "went out in style" with the "pounding, energetic track" that investigated his favoured theme of space travel which he first explored in his breakthrough 1969 single, Space Oddity.

The author said that the lyrics showed Bowie "returning to his long-cherished motif of space travel as an existential metaphor" yet in contrast with Space Oddity he "now carries us aloft on waves of optimism and aspiration".

"The title [Blaze] is apt; the Blackstar sessions concluded in a blaze of glory," Pegg writes.

The song had originally been earmarked for inclusion in the Lazarus musical, which opens in London this week, but for some reason it was dropped.

An accompanying album for the musical had been thought to contain Bowie's final studio recordings until Blaze was discovered.

It is unclear whether Bowie's management team and estate are planning to release it as a single.

The Bowie back catalogue of unreleased songs is extensive with numerous previously unheard extra tracks from albums, including Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust.

Pegg said that he had also discovered what could be the first demo of Bowie's first hit single, Space Oddity, complete with different lyrics, as well as new details about curios such as The Reverend Raymond Brown and It's Gonna Rain Again, a "pastiche of a Bob Dylan protest song".

"There are countless tracks, many of which I have not heard," Pegg said. "I am sure we are only at the tip of the iceberg.

"He was incredibly prolific and would often pop into the studio to work on new material. He was always gloriously unapologetic about his own [attention] time span.

"He would be enthused about a particular area and within six months he would have moved on.

"Inevitably there would be tracks left behind."

His book gives a detailed chronology of Bowie's final simultaneous recording sessions for the Blackstar album and Lazarus musical, when Bowie knew he was dying but kept it secret from his musical collaborators.

Bowie effectively withdrew from public life during his years of illness and had not played a concert or given interviews for almost a decade before his death.

Pegg said that conclusions could not be drawn on whether there was a symbolism attached to the optimism of Blaze, which he said was "certainly the last fully completed track that we know he made". He said that Bowie had been "singing his heart out with mesmerising brilliance".

The Complete David Bowie, which is published by Titan Books, goes on sale tomorrow.


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