David Bowie’s Unreleased 1969 ‘Mercury Demos’ to Be Released on Vinyl – Rolling Stone
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David Bowie’s Unreleased 1969 ‘Mercury Demos’ to Be Released on Vinyl

Pre-Space Oddity tape features nine unreleased recordings

David BowieDAVID BOWIE AT HOME, FOXGROVE ROAD, BECKENHAM, BRITAIN - 1969

DAVID BOWIE AT HOME, FOXGROVE ROAD, BECKENHAM, BRITAIN - 1969

Ray Stevenson/REX/Shutterstock

David Bowie’s 1969 demo tape, recorded in an effort to secure a record contract with Mercury Records, will be released as The Mercury Demos on June 28th.

The 10-song vinyl release, featuring nine unreleased tracks, feature early versions of Space Oddity tracks like “Janine,” “An Occasional Dream,” “Letter to Hermione” and “Space Oddity”; the version of “Space Oddity” here previously featured on the Sound & Vision box set, the lone recording from The Mercury Demos that has been released.

The Mercury Demos, which Bowie recorded alongside guitarist John Hutchison, also features covers of Roger Bunn’s “Life Is a Circus” and the Lesley Duncan-penned “Love Song,” later popularized by Elton John. Pre-Space Oddity tracks like “Ching-a-Ling” and “Lover to the Dawn” are also included.

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MERCURY DEMOS LP BOX DUE IN JUNE “I recall how we lived on the corner of a bed…” As part of the ongoing Space Oddity 50 celebrations and following the recent Spying Through A Keyhole and Clareville Grove Demos collections, Parlophone is releasing a further set of recordings known as The ‘Mercury’ Demos on 28th June 2019. The ‘Mercury’ Demos are 10 early Bowie recordings captured live in one take to a Revox reel to reel tape machine in David’s flat in spring 1969, with Bowie on vocals, guitar and Stylophone and with accompaniment from John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson on guitar and vocals. The version of ‘Space Oddity’ from the Demos, originally released with edits on the S&V box, is presented here in its true context for the first time. The other recordings on the album are all previously unreleased. In addition to Bowie originals, the session also includes the Roger Bunn’s Life Is A Circus (which features as an earlier demo version on the Clareville Grove Demos set) and the Lesley Duncan composition, Love Song, later recorded by Elton John for his Tumbleweed Connection album. David’s own Conversation Piece is announced as ‘a new song’ and Janine features a short section sung to the melody of The Beatles’ Hey Jude. The session was a document of the ‘Bowie & Hutch’ duo’s set of the time recorded at the request of Mercury Records A&R man Calvin Mark Lee for his boss Bob Reno. Both Calvin and Bob are referenced during the 41-minute recording which was key in securing David his deal with Mercury Records. The ‘Mercury’ Demos comes in a replica of the original tape box and will feature 1 mono 33 1/3 rpm vinyl LP, a print, two photo contact sheets and sleeve notes by Mark Adams. The labels of the LP feature the same EMIDISC acetate styling as Spying Through A Keyhole and Clareville Grove Demos with the song titles in David’s own handwriting. Side 1 Space Oddity Janine An Occasional Dream Conversation Piece Ching-a-Ling I’m Not Quite (aka Letter To Hermione) Side 2 Lover To The Dawn Love Song When I’m Five Life Is A Circus #BowieTheMercuryDemos

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“The session was a basic recording of the ‘Bowie & Hutch’ duo’s set list at the time and was committed to tape at the request of Mercury Records A&R man Calvin Mark Lee who wanted the tracks to send them to his boss Bob Reno,” Bowie’s site said of the release. “Both Calvin and Bob are referenced during the 41-minute recording, and the demos were key in securing David his recording deal with Mercury Records.”

The Mercury Demos, available to preorder now through Bowie’s website, comes in a replica of the original tape box – complete with Bowie’s own handwritten (and error-filled) track list – and features a mono 33 1/3 rpm vinyl LP, a print, two photo contact sheets and sleeve notes.

In 2018, Parlophone released a collection of Bowie demo recordings made in 1968, Spying Through a Keyhole. The Clareville Grove Demos, a collection of six songs spread across three 7″ singles, arrived earlier this year.

The Mercury Demos Track List

Space Oddity
Janine
An Occasional Dream
Conversation Piece
Ching-a-Ling
I’m Not Quite (aka Letter To Hermione)
Lover To The Dawn
Love Song
When I’m Five
Life Is A Circus

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