The Buddha of Suburbia (soundtrack)

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The Buddha of Suburbia
David bowie-the buddha of suburbia-uk.jpg
Soundtrack album by
Released8 November 1993
RecordedJune–July 1993
StudioMountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland
O'Henry Sound Studios, Burbank, USA
LabelBMG International
Virgin/EMI Records
David Bowie chronology
Black Tie White Noise
The Buddha of Suburbia
Alternative cover
2007 re-release cover
2007 re-release cover
Singles from The Buddha of Suburbia
  1. "The Buddha of Suburbia"
    Released: 22 November 1993
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[2]
Record Collector3/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau(dud)[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide1/5 stars[5]

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).

Released between Black Tie White Noise (1993) and Outside (1995), the album was produced and mixed at Mountain Studios (Montreux) in Switzerland and, according to Bowie, it took only six days to write and record, but fifteen days to mix because of some "technical breakdowns".[6]

Although the album has been classified as a soundtrack, the title track is the only song to have been featured in the programme (as further detailed 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 on the album cover as a soundtrack, this album is not the soundtrack Bowie wrote for the BBC dramatisation 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.[6]


Despite Bowie once hailing it as his favourite album,[7] both the 1993 European and 1995 American releases 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."[7]

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 ten tracks previously unreleased by the artist. Bowie played many instruments on the album, with the help of the multi-instrumentalist Erdal Kızılçay. Mike Garson plays piano on two tracks and Lenny Kravitz plays guitar on the title track (alternative version).

The album was re-issued on 17 September 2007,[8] in the UK and on 2 October 2007[9] in the US. The official press release showed that the cover of the re-issue would be similar to the 1995 US cover, but in colour with Bowie in a slightly different pose. The actual cover, however, is just a colourised version of the original US cover art. The re-issue contains both Bowie's former liner notes from the original UK issue and the inner artwork of the original US 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 Linden, Brucke Museum, Pet Sounds, Friends of the Krays, Roxy Music, T-Rex, The Casserole, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Bromley, Croydon, Eno, Prostitutes & Soho, Ronnie Scott's Club, Travels through Russia, Loneliness, O'Jays, Philip Glass in New York clubs, Die Mauer, Drugs.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by David Bowie.

1."Buddha of Suburbia"4:28
2."Sex and the Church"6:25
3."South Horizon" (instrumental)5:26
4."The Mysteries" (instrumental)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" (instrumental)6:27
10."Buddha of Suburbia" (featuring Lenny Kravitz on guitar)4:19


  • David Bowie – vocals, keyboards, synths, guitar, alto and baritone saxophones, keyboard percussion, production
  • Erdal Kızılçay – keyboards, trumpet, bass, guitar, drums, percussion
  • 3D Echo (Rob Clydesdale, Paul Davidson) – drums, bass, guitar on "Bleed Like a Craze, Dad"
  • Mike Garson – piano on "Bleed Like a Craze, Dad" and "South Horizon"
  • Lenny Kravitz (courtesy of Virgin Records) – guitar on "Buddha of Suburbia" (rock mix)
  • David Richards - programming, engineering, mixing, production
  • Mike Ruggieri - piano recording
  • Dominik Taqua - assistant engineering
  • John Jefford, BBC - photography
  • David and Anne Hardy (Wybo Haas) - design
  • Special thanks to: Isolar, all at BMG, Coco & Mabs


  • The album was first released in the UK and included extensive liner notes by Bowie that were not included with the later US release.
  • The album was packaged with an alternative cover in the US and was not released until 24 October 1995 (possibly due to a dispute between Bowie and the music industry).
  • 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 74321-17822.
  • Virgin/EMI rereleased the album in 2007. Its catalogue number is 50999 5 00463 2 4/V2-00463.


  1. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "The Buddha of Suburbia". Allmusic. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press.
  3. ^ Draper, Jason. "DAVID BOWIE - THE BUDDHA OF SUBURBIA". Record Collector. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Review: Buddha of Suburbia (Virgin, 2007)". Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  5. ^ The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. 2004. pp. 97–98.
  6. ^ a b c Bowie, David. The Buddha of Suburbia liner notes (BMG International, 1994) (available at Bassman's David Bowie page Archived 22 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine)
  7. ^ a b Bowie quote from Contact Music Web Article
  8. ^ BowieNet news 19. June 2007 Archived 13 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 4. 7. 2007.
  9. ^ Buddha of Suburbia, retrieved 5. 9. 2007

External links[edit]