Space Oddity 40th Anniversary Edition - Limited Edition Original recording remastered, Extra tracks, Limited Edition
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David Bowie’s Space Oddity, produced by Tony Visconti (bar the track "Space Oddity" itself which was produced by the late Gus Dudgeon), was a giant leap forward in terms of songwriting for Bowie compared to his eponymous debut, and can be considered as the first truly essential David Bowie album. Noted for a list of collaborators, including session players Herbie Flowers, Tim Renwick, Terry Cox and Rick Wakeman, the album delves into psychedelic folk-rock, as well as prog, with its genre-defying template creating a blueprint of what would become over the next decade and more, one of the most inimitable British artists.
The two-CD digipak contains an extensive booklet featuring rare photographs, memorabilia, sleeve notes and a chronology by Kevin Cann. CD one features the original album remastered from the original analogue masters tapes, whilst CD two features 15 bonus tracks of which eight are previously unreleased, including two ultra-rare demos.
There has always been more to Bowie’s second album than that prescient, if over-familiar, title song, as this two-disc re-mastered edition proves.
In 1969 it was released in the UK as David Bowie and in the US as Man of Words/Man of Music. Three years later, with Ziggy-mania abounding, it was re-issued with an even more pragmatic name, and soared to, um, number 17. Generations of Bowie fans have thus always perceived it as an afterthought, a pallid sibling to the golden run which followed, a runt which spawned one cosmic hit and was padded out with hippie folk songs.
How wrong you can be. It sounds extraordinary today, so flecked with genius that the wonder is not that Bowie broke big afterwards but that he didn’t sooner. Perhaps the last great 60s album, with shades of prog and sprinkles of Sgt. Pepper’s, it’s an elegy to that decade’s corroding ideals. The climactic Memory of a Free Festival perfectly captures the desire for escape from society’s shackles that coloured the times yet also seems smart enough to mock itself, knowing that bliss is, as he puts it in another lovely ballad, An Occasional Dream. In this blend of abandonment and self-awareness lay Bowie’s genius (a blend which later culminated in Young Americans, both completely fabricated and completely soulful). He never accepted that the textbook doesn’t allow you to be simultaneously arch and angst-ridden, and his innate ambivalence fuelled songs which proudly endure.
Gus Dudgeon produced the title track; Tony Visconti, who tackled the rest, had rejected it as “gimmicky”, then brought in a 50-piece orchestra for Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud. On Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed, bluesy rock hits places it didn’t previously know existed. Bowie hadn’t yet learned to self-edit, so you get guttural struts like “I’m a phallus in pigtails”, but also yearning sighs of “don’t turn your nose up / well you can if you want to, you won’t be the first or last”. There are inspired torch songs, then Cygnet Committee – a bold, ten-minute rant against Vietnam-era platitudes. It’s a dark horse in the Bowie canon: a simmering contender for his masterpiece.
The second CD gives us demos and sessions: the wry, pithy Janine, alternate mixes of the epics, and an Italian version of Space Oddity (titled Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola) which coaxes awe from absurdity. His next trick was to wow the crowd, but this intricate, intriguing work should never again be underestimated. --Chris Roberts
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Top Customer Reviews
Although the title track is perhaps over familiar these days it's still an effective track - the central message of a space traveller choosing to abandon earth is actually pretty powerful and gets lost in the gentle melody of the song. And that's just it - these aren't the gentle harmless folk songs that they are so often described as. "Cygnet Committee" is right up there with not only Bowie's best work but the best work of any artist ever. A lyrical masterpiece and powerful story - it is no exageration to say that it out Dylan's Dylan! Similarly "The Wild Eyed boy from Freecloud" draws you in to the narritive and "In memory of a free festival" is a beautifully nostalgic and touching look back on the end of an era. "Letter to Hermione" is a rare beast - a song where Bowie bares his soul and it is all the more poignant and effective for it. If you don't believe me then it is worth comparing it to the rather listless "Janine" - possibly the only weak song on the album.
UK released October 2009 - "David Bowie" on EMI DBSOCD 40 (Barcode 5099930752221) is a 2CD 40th Anniversary" reissue and breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 (46:12 minutes):
1. Space Oddity
2. Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed
3. Letter To Hermione
4. Cygnet Committee
5. Janine [Side 2]
6. An Occasional Dream
7. The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud
8. God Only Knows
9. Memory Of A Free Festival
Tracks 1 to 9 are the album "David Bowie" issued 14 November 1969 on Phillips SBL 7902 in the UK. Released in the same month in the USA but with slightly altered artwork (the photo on the cover is used as the 1st page of the booklet), the US version was re-titled as "Man Of Words/Man Of Music" and issued on Mercury SR-61246.
Disc 2 - BONUS MATERIAL - (63:47 minutes):
1. Space Oddity (early 'Demo' version featuring duet vocals with John "Hutch" Hutchinson, recorded January 1969)
2. An Occasional Dream (early 'Demo' version also featuring duet vocals with John "Hutch" Hutchinson, recorded March/April 1969)
3. Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud (this is an alternate version put out as the non-album B-side to "Space Oddity" issued in July 1969 as a UK 7" single on Philips BF 1801. It contains the Paul Buckmaster spoken intro and less brass and strings - none of which are on the LP version)
4. Let Me Sleep Beside You
5. Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed
6.Read more ›
Kenneth Pitt's influence is cast aside and David's intense love affair with Hermoine sadly ends... lonely boy becomes the nucleus of Ziggy - isolation and artistic rediscovery and the future. Not just the future of 1970s pop, but a snapshot of another strange universe or, at least the beginning of what would become an alien meets superstar phenomenon.
Yes, the record companies do cash in on these re-releases.
And yes, you may be thinking I already have Space Oddity on vinyl, CD, and/or the BBC Sessions.
If so, sell your old copies and keep this definitive version.
Not only is the original album (disc one) beautifully remastered, but also disc two is worth owning for:
The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud in all its orchestral glory (as described by Tony Visconti in Nicholas Pegg's book) sounds amazing, as if a 50-piece ensemble in the studio surrounds you. Why this wasn't used as the selected take originally may have been down to technical/quality reasons. It sounds perfect to me now, convincing me that some real dedication has gone into this release.
Memory Of A free Festival - there really is a party. This sounds like a spaceship landing at Woodstock! Okay, more like Lou Reed's `Kicks' with the background chatter/celebrations going on before take-off. The original version has these sounds electronically treated. This works well and runs in at 9min, 25secs about the same as Cygnet Committee.
Regazzo... beautiful full version on CD at last.
London Bye Ta Ta - this second take is an upbeat contender follow-up to the Space Oddity single. If only. Again the echo on Bowie's vocals made me think of what might have been.Read more ›
It's only worth talking about this reissue.
This has had a couple of CD issues - the Ryko, and the original EMI.
The Ryko had some extra tracks, the EMI was bare bones. (Ryko extra tracks were Conservation Piece, and two of the Memories of a Free Festival tracks. Also note, the short "Don't Sit Down" was also on the Ryko, it runs for all of 39 seconds).
So I'll only talk about this disc in the context of those two previous releases.
Basically, it's very very simple. THIS version is worth a tear or two. Tears of joy. The bonus disc is full of glorious early Bowie, and the original album has never - ever - sounded this good. Yes, a couple of the bonus tracks were already included in the original Ryko disc - but even they sound better.
And then you have the booklet - which is pure magic.
Downsides? No lyrics. So hold on to your Ryko (why do they omit the lyrics?!?!?!)
Look - this is an ESSENTIAL buy. I don't care that it's been reissued twice on CD. It doesn't matter. For better or worse - this is the best yet. And if you can accept this era Bowie, you have to have it. Why? Because it sounds wonderful. And the package is terrific.
I could apologize (who wants to buy this yet again?!?!?!?) But I don't make these things, I only buy them.
Worth getting? For a Bowie fan yes. A resounding yet. If you don't own it yet.... well now is the time.
I am as cynical as the rest. I'd love to slate this release as more gouging. But now is not the time. This is a wonderful release.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As with all Bowie stuff this is a well known song which needs no review as such. The format on picture disc just adds to the nostalgia of the song and it is a great addition to any... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jeff S
Great CD all the old classics to listen to and remember the great Bowie RIP.Published 4 months ago by Tiger