Saturday, March 16, 2019

10 David Bowie 60's Demo's

At manager Ralph Horton's apartment, Warwick Square, London 1966
1. "April's  Tooth Of Gold" 1968
This muddy demo is an interesting bridge between the 60's Deram records "British accent Bowie" and "The Man Who Sold The World" period thanks to his odd key charges and the quirky delivery. The lyrics are interesting and one wonders what it might have sounded like in a finished, produced form, though it is totally out of character with the more light weight material that he was writing in '68 (some of which would resurface on his 2nd LP).

https://youtu.be/ge9qwueP7iw

2. "I Want My Baby Back" 1965
Often cited as being Beach Boys influenced I'm going to go with the theory proffered many moons ago by my Twin Cities pal and music guru Keith Patterson that the influence for this demo instead comes from The Rocking Berries (check their hit "He's in Town" for reference). Recorded in 1965 one suspects the guitar is probably that of Lower Third band mate Denis Taylor. It first emerged in 1991 thanks to Shel Talmy on Rhino records essential CD "Early On 1964-1966" (now out of print it changes hands for a decent amount of $).

https://youtu.be/jwGdudTiOSs

1966 Clapham Common, London




















3. "Silver Treetop School For Boys" 1967
Bowie's early 1967 demo "Silver Treetop School For Boys" was not only actually covered and released by another artist it was done so on two occasions! The first was by The Slender Plenty in September 1967 (Polydor 56189) and later by Scottish group The Beatstalkers (who were handled by David's manager Ken Pitt) in December (CBS 3105). With a wry bit of social observation that would do Ray Davies proud, Bowie used a pot smoking scandal that was alleged to have involved the prestigious Lancing College which, as the oft told story goes has it, he read about in a newspaper. I can find no mention of any such incident anywhere and am loathe to regurgitate an old rock n' roll tale but why let the truth get in the way of a good story right?  Full of a catchy melody and some amazingly witty double entendres it would have made a great Deram era Bowie single.  It was also recorded (but unreleased officially until 2013) by The Riot Squad during their brief period of working with him. Though various sources state that it's Bowie singing lead on their version I beg to differ as it sounds nothing like him.

https://youtu.be/kF5sEP1kmaw

Tony Visconti's flat, Lexham Gardens, London 1968

























4. "I'm Not Quite" 1969
This demo, cut with guitarist and former Buzz member John "Hutch" Hutchinson, will become familiar immediately upon listening as an early version of  "Letter To Hermione" from David's second LP. The lyrics were later adapted after Bowie was dumped by the song's subject, Hermione Farthingale (who along with Hutchinson and Bowie was a member a short lived trio called Feathers).

https://youtu.be/87NC_H3dzkw

5. "Everything Is You" 1967
Pitched (unsuccessfully) to Manfred Mann's producer Ken Burgess in the hopes of them recording it, "Everything Is You" was eventually cut by Bowie's manager Ken Pitt's other act, The Beatstalkers as the flip to their next to last 45, 1968's "Rain Coloured Rose's" (UK CBS 3557). The lyrics seem to reflect someone working on a construction gang (or logging maybe?). It's infectious but difficult to imagine as something he would have released in the 60's.

https://youtu.be/32XF0Nz7x4U

6. "C'est La Vie" 1967
This 1967 demo (offered unsuccessfully to singer Chris Montez) remained undiscovered until 1993 when an acetate demo was auctioned off for an undisclosed price. It's of surprisingly decent quality and though it's nothing remarkable (Bowie seems to be straining on the key it's in) or witty it's worth a listen.

https://youtu.be/IyoYstj7Jgc

Davy Jones and the Lower Third, London 1965
7. "That's A Promise" 1965
This oft bootlegged track was recorded not with the Buzz as is often incorrectly stated, but with the Lower Third. Cut at the famous RG Jones studio in Morden, Surrey in October 1965 and was issued as an acetate on the studio's Oak label making it one of the most expensive Bowie seven inches in existence. It falls somewhere between the teen angst of Bowie and The Lower Third's 1965 45 "You've Got A Habit of Leaving" and The Kinks at their most dirge like.

https://youtu.be/MDPnH6UNZ7E

8. "Social Girl (aka "Social Kind Of Girl")" 1967
"Social Girl" is one of those handful of mid 60's Bowie demos that was never recorded by anyone and as a result is one of his most obscure tracks that has not even graced any bootlegs to my knowledge. It benefits from some interesting double tracking on all the vocals (both lead and backing) that really reminds me of a light weight Pete Townshend pre-"Tommy" demo number (ie "Call Me Lightning" or "Magic Bus") especially with the percussive hand claps and high backing vocals.

https://youtu.be/3IDcgL6G3kg

9. "Glad I've Got Nobody" 1965
Completed with the full accompaniment of his then backing group The Lower Third, "Glad I've Got Nobody" was cut as a demo in 1965 (date and location uncertain). Writers are often quick to lazily cite The Who or Kinks as the influence on Bowie's '65-'66 material with The Lower Third, who backed him on just two singles ("You've Got A Habit Of Leaving" and "Can't Help Thinking About Me") . I think the apparent influence here is more of a mid tempo British beat influence which leads me to believe it was one of Bowie's earliest attempts at commercial conformity as it clearly resembles nothing he had released commercially, nor would. It's available on  Rhino records essential CD "Early On 1964-1966".

https://youtu.be/1HO-f_fkb0k

At manager Ralph Horton's apartment, Warwick Square, London 1966

10. "Silly Boy Blue" 1965
This homage to Bowie's early fascination with Tibet and Buddhism took shape in an entirely different lyrical form with the words concerning teenage trauma and leaving home (a theme also explored in his debut 45 as "David Bowie" with "Can't Help Thinking About Me") before being rejigged with lyrics about Tibet et al and eventually seeing light in its new form on his debut LP . This demo was cut again at RG Jones in October 1965 with the Lower Third, presumably at the same time as "That's A Promise" (see above) and comes off a bit disjointed and awkward but interesting in light of what it became.

https://youtu.be/1d6k01Kw3fM

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