Thursday, July 13, 2017

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: David Bowie's US Deram Debut

DAVID BOWIE-Rubber Band/There Is A Happy Land US Deram 45-DEM-85009 1967

"Rubber Band" was David Bowie's second ever U.S. 45 ( the previous honor went to Warner Brothers 5815 "Can't Help Thinking About Me"/ "And I Say To Myself" in May 1966). The June 1967 U.S. release of "Rubber Band" is interesting because rather than use the first version of it which was issued in the U.K. as his first Deram 45 in December 1966 (as Deram DM 107) London records (Deram's U.S. distributor) chose to utilize the re-recorded version found on his debut untitled long player . The LP was previously issued in the United Starts on April 20, 1967 as Deram DES 180 003 (or so I have been led to believe). I am curious as the U.K. LP was launched on June 1st, the same day as "Sgt. Pepper..", which would be odd that his debut came out months earlier in the U.S. The staff at London  were antsy about his U.K. "Rubber Band" flip side "The London Boys" owing to it's drug references and chose another track from the debut LP, "There Is A Happy Land" as the B-side. "The London Boys" would not surface in the United States until 1972's London double album "Images 1966-1967" (London BP 628/9) which collected all of his Deram era material.

David Bowie 1967 photo by Gerald Fearnley

"Rubber Band" is something of an odd duck.  With it's Victorian era brass band backing it's like the red headed stepchild of "Penny Lane" and "Dead End Street". Bowie half sings/half speaks in an upper crust intonation about his love leaving him while he's off in the "14-18 war" for the leader a brass band that plays in the park on Sunday afternoons. There's predictable parts of his phrasing that resemble Anthony Newley, which for better or worse is often attatched to his first album's material.

"There Is A Happy Land" is one of the most brilliant moments from his debut LP.  With delicate childlike piano and acoustic strumming by Pentangle's John Redbourn there's subtle brass weaving a wonderful melody as Bowie sings of childhood nostalgia with touches of innocence and cruelty:  "sissy Steven plays with girls, someone made him cry, Tony climbed a tree and fell trying hard to touch the sky. Tommy lit a fire one day, nearly burned the field away, Tommy's mom found out but he put the blame on me and Ray".

Both tracks are found on his debut LP, which was issued in both Stereo and Mono mixes a few years back.

Hear "Rubber Band" (LP version):

Hear "There Is A Happy Land":

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