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.
“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
An Occasional Dream
I’m Not Quite (aka Letter To Hermione)
Lover To The Dawn
When I’m Five
Life Is A Circus