Space Oddity Enhanced, Original recording reissued
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This 1969 release features David Bowie's first hit single, "Space Oddity," and sets the tone for the spacey Ziggy Stardust to come. But other than the title track, Space Oddity isn't a glam-rock album. For that phase, one must move ahead to 1970's The Man Who Sold the World. These folk-based tracks largely present Bowie as a surrealist singer-songwriter. The uncharacteristically bitter and sarcastic "Letter to Hermione" is the most impassioned track here, presenting, as it does, the angry side of this master of cool. While still earlier recordings are noted for their Anthony Newley affectations, Space Oddity is where the Bowie myth begins to take shape. --Rob O'Connor
Along with Marc Bolan, with whom he shared a producer, David Bowie is credited with spawning glam rock in the 70s. However, 1969's Space Oddity is fledgling Bowie - not a feather boa in sight - but a spider’s web of influences. It shows a Bowie, not so much casting his own image, but in the shadow of others. Originally turned down by George Martin, this kaleidoscopic album is an amalgamation of Dave’s obsessions - directors, musicians, poets and spirituality of a distinctly late-60s hue.
In this ever-shifting musical refraction there are glimpses of Stanley Kubrick (the title track – originally recorded in Bowie’s bedroom –is inspired by the film 2001: A Space Odyssey), and Muddy Waters (the harmonica and blues rhythm in ‘‘Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed’’ - another song about being an outsider, or as Bowie himself puts it ‘A phallus in pig-tails’). Dylan's influence looms in the social commentary '’God Knows I'm Good’' and the yearning '’Letter to Hermione’' – an ode to the girlfriend Bowie lost the very year the album was born; whilst the poetry of Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg appears in the aching ‘’Cygnet Committee’’ (‘I bless you madly, sadly as I tie my shoes’).
The eponymous single was mistranslated into Italian 'Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola'. When Bowie found out, what the new lyrics meant, he just laughed; ‘I've put in all that time singing some bloody love song about some tart in a blouse on a mountain!’.
There are two particularly mind-blowing tracks on this album, both of which come with an exquisite production by Tony Visconti (who shunned the title track as a cheap publicity stunt tying in with the Apollo 11 moon landings). The symphonic '’Wild Eyed Boy from Free Cloud’' and '’Memory of a Free Festival’', which celebrates his first appearance at Glastonbury festival, linger in your head long after they have stopped playing. Both show Bowie in the trippy hippy mode that he was in the early days and help Space Oddity to stand out in the cannon of this two-toned eyed musical genius. --Susie Goldring
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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 5 months ago by Jeff S
Great CD all the old classics to listen to and remember the great Bowie RIP.Published 5 months ago by Tiger