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David Bowie (1967 album)

David Bowie
Studio album by
Released1 June 1967 (1967-06-01)
Recorded14 November 1966 – 25 February 1967
StudioDecca, London
ProducerMike Vernon
David Bowie chronology
David Bowie
David Bowie
Singles from David Bowie
  1. "Rubber Band"
    Released: 2 December 1966
  2. "Love You till Tuesday"
    Released: 14 July 1967

David Bowie is the self-titled debut studio album by English musician David Bowie. It was released in the UK on 1 June 1967 with Deram Records. Its style and content is often said to bear little overt resemblance to the type of music that he was later known for, such as the folk rock influenced "Space Oddity" or the glam rock of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. NME critics Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray have said, "a listener strictly accustomed to David Bowie in his assorted '70s guises would probably find this debut album either shocking or else simply quaint", while biographer David Buckley describes its status in the Bowie discography as "the vinyl equivalent of the madwoman in the attic". Nicholas Pegg contends that "it seems a pity that David Bowie is only ever considered in terms of what we can extrapolate from it [...] Thankfully, it does seem that pop musicologists are at last beginning to regard David Bowie not just as a quirky set of embryonic twitterings, but as an album that's actually worth considering in its own right".


Bowie's influences at this stage of his career included the theatrical tunes of Anthony Newley, music hall numbers by acts like Tommy Steele, whimsical 'British' material by Ray Davies of the Kinks, Syd Barrett's psychedelic nursery rhymes for the early Pink Floyd, and the Edwardian flair shared by such contemporary songs as the Beatles' "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" The desire of Bowie's then-manager, Ken Pitt, for Bowie to become an 'all-round entertainer' rather than a 'rock star' impacted the songwriter's style. Bowie himself said that his debut album "seemed to have its roots all over the place, in rock and vaudeville and music hall. I didn't know if I was Max Miller or Elvis Presley".

Style and themes

Bowie looking to the camera
A trade ad photo of Bowie in 1967

The album was solely written by Bowie, who also arranged with Dek Fearnley. They reportedly taught themselves the craft using the Observer Book of Music. "Rubber Band" was a marching tune that employed tuba as the lead instrument. "Little Bombardier" and "Maid of Bond Street" were in waltz time, and also made extensive use of brass and strings. "Love You till Tuesday" and "Come and Buy My Toys" were among the few songs on the album with a lead (acoustic) guitar, the former heavily augmented by strings. "Join the Gang" was an excursion into contemporary youth culture, an acerbic observation of peer pressure and drug use, which included sitar in its instrumentation as well as a musical quotation of The Spencer Davis Group's recent hit "Gimme Some Lovin'." The final track, "Please Mr. Gravedigger", was "a macabre duet for voice and sound effects", and has been described as "one of pop's genuinely crazy moments".

Despite the album's incongruity in the Bowie catalogue, some commentators have discerned embryonic themes that inform the artist's more mature work. "We Are Hungry Men" is told by a self-styled "messiah" whose persona would reappear in different forms in the songs "Cygnet Committee" (from the second David Bowie), "Saviour Machine" (from The Man Who Sold the World) and "Oh! You Pretty Things" (from Hunky Dory), as well as in the protagonist of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The track also explicitly referenced subjects like abortion, infanticide and cannibalism. "There Is a Happy Land" was an early manifestation of Bowie's vision of children as a race apart from their elders, a theme revisited on The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust. "She's Got Medals" was a gender-bending tale with gay and lesbian connotations that predated the 'dress cover' of The Man Who Sold the World and the bisexual/androgynous character of Ziggy Stardust.


There are three singles associated with David Bowie. Before releasing the album, Deram issued two singles with the same personnel. The first was "Rubber Band" b/w "London Boys" in December 1966. Both tracks were recorded in October 1966 and were used to secure Bowie's Deram contract. "Rubber Band" would be re-recorded for the album (and it is this version that was released as a single in the USA mid-1967 with "There Is A Happy Land", also from David Bowie, as the B-side). "London Boys" has been lauded as Bowie's first mini-masterpiece, a melancholy observation of the London Mod scene of the time.

"The Laughing Gnome" b/w "The Gospel According to Tony Day" was the second single released before David Bowie, in April 1967, although neither track features on the album. "The Laughing Gnome" was a novelty record featuring high-pitched vocals. The varispeed technique used to create this effect would serve Bowie in more serious fashion on many future songs including "After All", "The Bewlay Brothers", "Fame" and "Scream Like a Baby". Deram re-released the single in the wake of Bowie's commercial breakthrough with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and despite it being radically different from his material at the time, it made No. 6 in the UK charts.

A month after the release of David Bowie, the third, and what would become the final single of the Deram period, was issued. "Love You till Tuesday" b/w "Did You Ever Have a Dream" came out in July 1967. This version of "Love You till Tuesday", just like the single version of "Rubber Band" before it, was not the one featured on the album. Rather, Bowie re-recorded the track in June 1967, along with the new song which featured on the B-side, "Did You Ever Have a Dream". Just like the two Deram singles before it, "Love You till Tuesday" failed to chart.

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 stars
Blender1/5 stars
Classic Rock7/10 stars
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music2/5 stars
Rolling Stone2/5 stars
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars
Spin Alternative Record Guide2/10

David Bowie was released in the UK on 1 June 1967. Its release coincided with the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Nicholas Pegg writes: "Thanks to Deram's progressive leanings, David Bowie was one of the first albums to be released in both mono and stereo, the two variants featuring minor differences in instrumentation and mixing." Mono editions use slightly different mixes of 'Uncle Arthur' and 'Please Mr. Gravedigger'. The album was issued in the USA – again in mono and stereo versions – in August 1967, minus "We Are Hungry Men" and "Maid of Bond Street". Pegg speculates 'possibly in line with the US practice of cutting down track numbers to reduce publishing royalties'. The album was a commercial failure, as were its associated singles, "Rubber Band" and "The Laughing Gnome" released before it, and "Love You till Tuesday" released just after it.

Bowie went on to record several tracks for Deram, all of which were refused release as singles. In September 1967 Bowie recorded "Let Me Sleep Beside You" and its B-side "Karma Man". Both tracks had a radically different sound to the material on David Bowie, harking back to his mod period (1964–1966). Despite this, Deram refused to release the single, Pegg seeing this as possibly due to the sexual nature of the title of the A-side. Bowie quickly proposed swapping the A-side with a new version of the David Bowie album track, "When I Live My Dream", which had been re-recorded in the same session as Bowie's third post-album single. Once again Deram refused to release the track, possibly because they felt the sound of this material had failed so many times before. Finally, in early 1968, Bowie recorded another two tracks for release as a single: "In the Heat of the Morning" and its B-Side "London Bye Ta–Ta". While once again going for the pop-mod sound of "Let Me Sleep Beside You", "In the Heat of the Morning" was also rejected by Deram. Several of the songs were also re-recorded for BBC Radio Sessions between 1967 and 1969.

The failure of the album and its singles, as well as not being able to produce anything with his subsequent material felt worthy of release, cost Bowie his record contract with Deram Records. They dropped him in April 1968. Bowie immediately went on to form a folk rock trio with Hermione Farthingale and Tony Hill. Named Turquoise, the band quickly recorded a single – with all three taking vocal lead on different verses – called "Ching-a-Ling". Before they could look for a record company to release it, Hill left the band. Recruiting John Hutchinson soon after, the band changed their name to Feathers and had Hutchinson re-record Hill's vocal. Almost immediately Farthingale left Feathers, and soon after, so did Hutchinson. "Ching-a-Ling" thus became Bowie's fourth single in a row which he had failed to release.

Love You till Tuesday

At the same time as the Feathers side-project was on the go, in early 1969 Bowie threw himself into making a promotional film of music videos to sell himself to a new label. Called Love You till Tuesday, the film recycled songs from his debut album and subsequent recordings, as well as featuring reworkings and new material. "Rubber Band" (album version) and "Sell Me a Coat" were lifted from David Bowie, although the latter track was overdubbed with new instrumentation and Feathers backing vocals. "Love You till Tuesday" was the single version, albeit with an early fade removing its "Hearts and Flowers" coda. From Bowie's period of unreleased singles came "When I Live My Dream" (single version), "Let Me Sleep Beside You", and "Ching-a-Ling" (although with the first verse and Bowie's main vocal omitted from the Feathers track). The film also included a narrated mime, "The Mask", from another of Bowie's side projects; as well as the song "When I'm Five" recorded for a BBC Radio session on the program Top Gear in May 1968. Finally, Bowie also – at the last moment – managed to record a brand new song, "Space Oddity", to complete the film.

Love You till Tuesday was directed by Malcolm J Thomson, and each segment was filmed in a style appropriate to the song, essentially as a series of music videos. For instance, Bowie dressed as bandleader for Rubber Band, performed his mime for The Mask, and appeared floating in darkness for "Space Oddity". Hutchinson and Farthingale also appeared in some of the sequences, such as "Ching-a-Ling" and "Sell Me a Coat". The film was never released at the time, nor indeed needed to secure Bowie a new recording contract. In June 1969 Bowie split with his manager, Kenneth Pitt, and negotiated a deal with Mercury Records and its UK subsidiary Philips based on an audition tape that included a demo of "Space Oddity" recorded by Bowie and Hutchinson in the spring 1969. Bowie went on to re-record the song as a solo artist later that year, and secure his first hit single. Love You till Tuesday lay all but forgotten until it saw an official public release in 1984 at the height of Bowie's fame during the Let's Dance period.

Reissues and compilations

The songs from the debut album and its singles, plus later Deram works, have been recycled in a multitude of compilation albums, including The World of David Bowie (1970), Images 1966–1967 (1973), Another Face (1981), Rock Reflections (1990), and The Deram Anthology 1966–1968 (1997).

The album itself was first re-issued by Deram on CD in 1983 – becoming Bowie's first ever album to appear on this format. The album was re-issued on CD for a second time in 1988, with a booklet reprinting the original press release by Kenneth Pitt and a new essay by John Tracy (1988). The rear sleeve specifies the versions of some of the tracks on the album: "Rubber Band" (Version 2), "When I Live My Dream" (Version 1), and "Please Mr. Gravedigger" (Version 2). "Rubber Band" (Version 2) indicates it is the album version not the earlier single from the previous year. "When I Live My Dream" (Version 1) similarly indicates the original album version is being used, rather than the later re-recording for the unreleased single. Finally, "Please Mr. Gravedigger" (Version 2) indicates it is the album version rather than one of the three tracks recorded at "Rubber Band" single session in late 1966, which only exists on acetate. That is, the 1988 CD version is the stereo version of the original UK issue of the album. This is further clarified as the running times included on the sleeve of the CD are the same as the original album, and all three non-album variations of these tracks have significantly different running times.

In 2010, the album was released in a remastered deluxe edition 2CD package by Deram in the UK and Universal Music world-wide. CD1 contains both the stereo mix then the mono mix of the album; CD2 features many other Deram era recordings, previously unreleased stereo mixes of songs, new stereo mixes, the full version of the Feathers track, and, for the first time as an official release, the first BBC radio session (Top Gear, December 1967) and one track from Bowie's second BBC radio session (Top Gear, May 1968).

Track listing

Original 1967 UK release

Two versions released on LP in UK: mono and stereo. Mono editions use slightly different mixes of 'Uncle Arthur' and 'Please Mr. Gravedigger'. The album was issued in the USA – again in mono and stereo versions – in August 1967, minus "We Are Hungry Men" and "Maid of Bond Street".

All tracks are written by David Bowie.

Side one
1."Uncle Arthur"2:07
2."Sell Me a Coat"2:58
3."Rubber Band"2:17
4."Love You till Tuesday"3:09
5."There Is a Happy Land"3:11
6."We Are Hungry Men"2:59
7."When I Live My Dream"3:22
Side two
1."Little Bombardier"3:23
2."Silly Boy Blue"4:36
3."Come and Buy My Toys"2:07
4."Join the Gang"2:17
5."She's Got Medals"2:23
6."Maid of Bond Street"1:43
7."Please Mr. Gravedigger"2:35
Total length:37:07

Remastered 2010 deluxe edition

CD1 contains remastered stereo then mono mixes of the full UK original album (14 tracks stereo; 14 tracks mono).

CD2 features related tracks from the period (1966–1969):

Tracks 1 – 6: Associated David Bowie singles – all in mono. Bowie's first single for Deram was “Rubber Band” with B-side "The London Boys", released in December 1966. "Rubber Band" is an earlier version than that featured on the album; "The London Boys" is a non-album track. Bowie's second single for Deram was "The Laughing Gnome" with B-side "The Gospel According to Tony Day", released in April 1967: both non-album tracks. In the wake of David Bowie, Bowie released what would be his third and final single for Deram, "Love You till Tuesday" with B-side "Did You Ever Have a Dream" in July 1967. "Love You till Tuesday" – while on the album – is a new recording for single release; "Did You Ever Have a Dream" is a non-album track.

Tracks 7 – 11: Unreleased David Bowie singles – all in mono. After the "Love You till Tuesday" single, Bowie went on to record several new tracks as potential singles (all of which were refused by the company). Another re-recording of an album track, “When I Live My Dream” (cut at the same session as the "Love You till Tuesday" / "Did You Ever Have a Dream" single), was rejected by Deram. This song being proposed in the wake of the rejection of two newer tracks: the A-side “Let Me Sleep Beside You” and its B-side “Karma Man” (which would have been the B-side to "When I Live My Dream" too). Early in 1968, another two new recordings were similarly rejected: the pairing of "In the Heat of the Morning" and its B-Side "London Bye Ta–Ta". Note, the version of "London Bye Ta-Ta" here is an earlier mix of the song with a different vocal and without some final touches than what was to be released. The completed mix of the song exists only on a scratchy acetate while the mastertape of the earlier mix has survived, hence its inclusion here:

Tracks 12 & 13: New stereo mixes of Bowie's second Deram single. New mixes of "The Laughing Gnome" and its B-side "The Gospel According to Tony Day" were prepared specially for this release in 2009.

Tracks 14 – 17: Contemporary unreleased stereo mixes. The B-Side of Bowie's third Deram single: "Did You Ever Have a Dream". The late 1967 unreleased single "Let Me Sleep Beside You" / "Karma Man". The early 1968 unreleased single A-side "In the Heat of the Morning".

Tracks 18 – 20: Tracks featured on the film Love You till Tuesday (1969). "When I'm Five" is from Bowie's second BBC Radio Top Gear session in May 1968. "Ching-a-Ling" which featured in edited form in the film, here appears in its entirety. "Sell Me a Coat" is the same recording as that from David Bowie (1967), but in a new mix with additional instrumentation and backing vocals from Farthingale and Hutchinson.

Tracks 21 – 25: BBC Radio Top Gear session (1967). The entire session of Bowie's first BBC Radio Top Gear session recorded in December 1967.

All tracks are written by David Bowie.

CD2: Extras
1."Rubber Band" (Mono single A-side)2:01
2."The London Boys" (Mono single B-side)3:19
3."The Laughing Gnome" (Mono single A-side)2:56
4."The Gospel According to Tony Day" (Mono single B-side)2:46
5."Love You till Tuesday" (Mono single A-side)2:59
6."Did You Ever Have a Dream" (Mono single B-side)2:06
7."When I Live My Dream" (Mono single master (unreleased A-side))3:49
8."Let Me Sleep Beside You" (Mono single master (unreleased A-side))3:24
9."Karma Man" (Mono single master (unreleased B-side))3:03
10."London Bye Ta–Ta" (Mono single initial master (unreleased B-side))2:36
11."In the Heat of the Morning" (Mono single master (unreleased A-side))2:44
12."The Laughing Gnome" (2009 stereo mix)2:59
13."The Gospel According to Tony Day" (2009 stereo mix)2:49
14."Did You Ever Have a Dream" (Contemporary stereo mix (unreleased))2:05
15."Let Me Sleep Beside You" (Contemporary stereo mix (unreleased))3:20
16."Karma Man" (Contemporary stereo mix (unreleased))3:03
17."In the Heat of the Morning" (Contemporary stereo mix (unreleased))2:58
18."When I'm Five" (BBC version: May 1968)3:05
19."Ching-a-Ling" (Contemporary stereo mix (unreleased A-side))2:48
20."Sell Me a Coat" (David Bowie version with 1969 overdubs)2:58
21."Love You till Tuesday" (BBC version: December 1967)2:56
22."When I Live My Dream" (BBC version: December 1967)3:33
23."Little Bombardier" (BBC version: December 1967)3:25
24."Silly Boy Blue" (BBC version: December 1967)3:22
25."In the Heat of the Morning" (BBC version: December 1967)4:16

Later studio re-recordings

  • The other tracks on Bowie's second BBC Radio Top Gear session in May 1968 where "When I'm Five" was recorded were all also taken from this period. These were: "In The Heat Of The Morning", "London Bye Ta-Ta", "Karma Man", and "Silly Boy Blue". These four tracks appear on Bowie at the Beeb (2000).
  • "Let Me Sleep Beside You" would be re-recorded in Space Oddity-style for Bowie's third BBC Radio session for the DLT show in late 1969. This track also appears on Bowie At The Beeb (2000).
  • "London Bye Ta-Ta" would be re-recorded in 1970 as a potential follow-up to Bowie's “Space Oddity” single, but it too went unreleased as Bowie decided upon another song from the same session, “The Prettiest Star”.
  • The B-Side to the first Deram single "The London Boys", "Silly Boy Blue" from David Bowie, plus "Let Me Sleep Beside You", "In the Heat of the Morning", and "Karma Man" from the unreleased singles period were all re-recorded many years later by Bowie in 2000 for his unreleased album Toy.



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