Tuesday, July 12, 2011


David Bowie- Space Oddity (1969) 40th Anniversary Edition (Bonus Disc) MP3 & FLAC


"I'm the cream of the great utopia dream, and you're the gleam in depths of your
banker's spleen."

David Bowie (aka David Jones) had been struggling for years to achieve some semblance of commercial and artistic success as a musician, a journey that included stints as a blues-singer for mod-rock groups such as The King Bees and The Mannish Boys, a campy dance-hall dandy with a taste for Anthony Newley, and a Dylan-esque folksinger. While all of these musical incarnations failed miserably, it was, strangely enough, Bowie's participation in an avante-garde mime troupe that put him on the pathway to the kind of success he so badly craved. In 1968, now a solo mime artist, Bowie opened a show for Marc Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex, and in the process, crossed paths with Bolan's producer Tony Visconti. This was, of course, a fortuitous meeting because Visconti would prove to be instrumental in shaping the careers of both Bolan and Bowie, as well as helping to foster the birth of the Glam-Rock movement that would make them both superstars by 1972. Bowie had recorded a self-titled debut album for Deram in 1967, but when it failed to chart, his days at the label were numbered, and he was unceremoniously dropped in early 1968. Despite this turn of events, he had written a good deal of new material by the time he entered the studio in 1969 on Mercury Records' dime to record his second album, now with Visconti as his producer. Among the new songs was "Space Oddity," which was obviously influenced by the Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the impending Apollo moon landing. Bowie had originally written and recorded the song for a promotional film called Love You Till Tuesday, which ended up staying in the can until 1984.


While the song was deemed worthy (or timely) enough to be chosen, previous to the Mercury recording sessions, as the lead-single for the new album, Visconti reportedly hated the song and had no interest in producing it, which is why his assistant, Gus Dudgeon, who would later become Elton John's producer, was pressed into service. The Dudgeon-produced version is a dark, lush, and dramatic epic that quickly transcended the initial impression by critics that it was a novelty song. Central to the song's success are the haunting "space" effects provided by a mellotron and a pocket electronic organ called a stylophone, Bowie's now-iconic vocal performance, and the distinctive prog-folk arrangement. Not only was "Space Oddity" Bowie's first hit (top five in the U.K.), but it also, in many ways, provided the blueprint for his Ziggy Stardust persona and his ongoing thematic preoccupation with social outcasts and aliens. Originally titled David Bowie in the U.K. (inviting confusion with his identically-titled Deram debut), Man of Words / Man of Music in the U.S. and renamed Space Oddity for its re-issue in 1972, Bowie's second album is an edgy dystopian artistic breakthrough, which, though suffering a bit from a lack of stylistic cohesion, offers several glimpses of the genius Bowie would demonstrate in his work throughout the seventies. The approach to recording the album was a bit haphazard, but proved to be a valuable learning experience for all involved; as Visconti recalls, "we had no idea what we were doing. It was all over the map. But we met Mick Ronson at the very end of making that album and allowed him to educate us." In addition to the title track, Space Oddity features several gems, including "Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed," a proto-Glam kiss-off (both stylistically and lyrically) to what Bowie took to be the "lock-step" mentality hiding beneath the surface of various late-sixties counter-cultural ideologies. At the outset, the song sounds as though it might be an idealistic ballad, as Bowie strums his acoustic 12-string and, with a heavily reverbed voice, sings to a pretty girl in a window. However, when the bass and drums join the mix, things turn dark, as the song transforms into a snarling indictment of class from the perspective of a social outcast. The album concludes with another epic, "Memory of a Free Festival," which, in effect, closes the door on the last traces of the hippie-influenced utopianism that had preoccupied much of Bowie's earlier work. While the song recounts, in beautifully idealized terms, his first appearance at Glastonbury Festival, it maintains a funereal tone until the cathartic fade/chorus of "The sun machine is coming down / And we're gonna have a party" brings the song to a powerfully ironic conclusion. Upon its release, Space Oddity garnered a number of ecstatic reviews, but, in the eyes of Mercury, the album failed to deliver on the promise of its lead single, as the tracks recorded with Visconti are far from accessible and quite gloomy in tone. As a result, they failed to properly promote the album, so Bowie's commercial fortunes once again took a tumble.  It was to be on the next album, The Man Who Sold the World, that Bowie, Visconti and Ronson would craft the sound that helped change the face of rock music in the seventies.

Space Oddity  
(Virgin ~ 2009/1969 ~ 40th Anniversary Special 2-CD Edition)

Disc I: Space Oddity (2009 Remaster)

Tracklist-
 1. Space Oddity  (5:16)
 2. Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed  (6:12)
 3. Don't Sit Down  (0:44)
 4. Letter to Hermione  (2:37)
 5. Cygnet Committee  (9:36)
 6. Janine  (3:25)
 7. An Occasional Dream  (3:01)
 8. Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud  (4:52)
 9. God Knows I'm Good  (3:22)
10. Memory of a Free Festival  (7:09)




Disc II: Bonus Material

Tracklist-
 1. Space Oddity (Demo Version)  (5:10)
 2. An Occasional Dream (Demo Version)  (2:49)
 3. Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud (B-Side, "Space Oddity" Single)  (4:56)
 4. BBC Interview / Let Me Sleep Beside You (BBC Radio Session, 1969)  (4:45)
 5. Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed (BBC Radio Session, 1969)  (3:54)
 6. Janine (BBC Radio Session, 1969)  (3:02)
 7. London Bye Ta-Ta (Stereo Version)  (3:12)
 8. The Prettiest Star (Stereo Version)  (3:12)
 9. Conversation Piece (Stereo Version)  (3:06)
10. Memory of a Free Festival, Pt. I (Single A-Side)  (4:01)
11. Memory of a Free Festival, Pt. II (Single B-Side)  (3:30)
12. Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud (Alternate Album Mix)  (4:45)
13. Memory of a Free Festival (Alternate Album Mix)  (9:22)
14. London Bye Ta-Ta (Alternate Stereo Mix)  (2:34)
15. Raggazo Solo, Ragazza Sola (Full-Length Stereo Version)  (5:14)




Space Oddity  
(EMI ~ 2009 ~ 40th Anniversary iTunes EP)

Tracklist-
 1. Space Oddity (Mono Single Edit)  (4:42)
 2. Space Oddity (U.S. Mono Single Edit)  (3:29)
 3. Space Oddity (U.S. Stereo Single Edit)  (3:57)
 4. Space Oddity (1979 Rerecorded Version)  (4:57)
 5. Space Oddity (Bass and Drums)  (5:31)
 6. Space Oddity (Strings)  (5:31)
 7. Space Oddity (Acoustic Guitar)  (5:31)
 8. Space Oddity (Mellotron)  (5:31)
 9. Space Oddity (Backing Vocal, Flute, and Cellos)  (5:31)
10. Space Oddity (Stylophone and Guitar)  (5:31)
11. Space Oddity (Lead Vocal)  (5:31)
12. Space Oddity (Main Backing Vocal, Including Countdown)  (5:31)

8 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this vintage Bowie. I find myself coming back to the LP time and time again. Cygnet Committee, Wild-Eyed Boy of Freecloud, Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed, and, of course, Space Oddity, are all epics and are amoung Bowie's most brilliant songs (and lyrics). A gem! Kurt

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  2. Kurt, you're welcome. This album has always been one of my favorites. It's not as consistent as some of his later albums, but there is this interesting vibe on "Space Oddity" that sets it apart.

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  3. Deam in the glepths of your spanker's bleen.

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  4. Wow! I had no idea about a lot of this. Thanks for contextualizing such a great album!

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  5. ana, my pleasure. More great Bowie stories are coming!

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  6. MP3@256 on an iTunes EP? Shouldn't that be AAC, unless it's a transcode?

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  7. AAC to MP3 at same bitrate is no more an issue than converting FLAC to Wave. Transcoding is an issue when a lower bitrate is converted to a higher bitrate. Sorry to disappointment you good buddy.

    ReplyDelete