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SPACE ODDITY

David Bowie

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David Bowie Space Oddity album cover
3.34 | 217 ratings | 10 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing




1. Space Oddity - 5:15
2. Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed - 6:55
3. (Don't Sit Down) - 0:39
4. Letter to Hermione - 2:28
5. Cygnet Committee - 9:33
6. Janine - 3:18
7. An Occasional Dream - 2:51
8. Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud - 4:45
9. God Knows I'm Good - 3:13
10. Memory of a Free Festival - 7:05


Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians


David Bowie - vocals, guitar, stylophone, kalimba, organ
Mick Wayne - guitar
Tim Renwick - guitar, flute
Keith Christmas - acoustic guitar
John Lodge - bass
Tony Visconti - bass, flute
Herbie Flowers - bass
John Cambridge - drums
Terry Cox - drums
Rick Wakeman - mellotron, electric harpsicord
Paul Buckmaster - cello
Benny Marshall - harmonica

Releases information

- Philips SBL 7912), November 1969 (UK)
- Issued in a different cover (second) in the US as David Bowie/Man Of Words, Man Of Music (Mercury 61246), without 'Don't Sit Down' (which is not listed on the cover of the Philips issue)
- Released again in the US (1972 - RCA AQL1-4813) as simply 'Space Oddity' and with the same track listing as Mercury 61246.

Don't Sit down now available on the latest CD reissues but avaible on Rykodisc 1990 version.

Rykodisc remastered version (1990- cat code RCD 10131) including these bonus tracks:
11. Conversation Piece (1970 B-side of 'Prettiest Star') (3:05)
12. Memory Of A Free Festival (part 1) (3:59)*
13. Memory Of a Free Festival (part 2) (3:31)*
* First appearance of Mick Ronson on a David Bowie record.

Thanks to micky for the addition
and to clemofnazareth for the last updates
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DAVID BOWIE Space Oddity ratings distribution


3.34
(217 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(11%)
11%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(37%)
37%
Good, but non-essential (42%)
42%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

DAVID BOWIE Space Oddity reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I WANT TO LIVE

After the commercial failure of his debut album, 1968 is an empty musical year. Bowie is performing some mime shows. But they are apparently very poor in those days (but he'll get much better later on). He is still writing a few songs, of which a certain "Space Oditty" in which he doesn't really believe.

In 1969, David is the opening act for "Tyrannosaurus Rex". Only miming though. He is also going to meet Mary Angela Barnett at a press conference (the launch of .King Crimson actually). She is in the show biz and is interested by David. She helped David be signed at Philips.

But another MAJOR person will cross his paths in those remote days: Tony Visconti. He will be the producer of his next album.

"Space Oditty" which is a year old by then has turned into a perfect marketing match. It will be used during lots of TV shows related to one of the major event of the century: the first steps of mankind on the moon. The first leg of the Major Tom history. The one during which he will cut his circuits and live in an orbital world. But don't worry, we'll find the Major back a little later.

This album is of course overshadowed by this extraordinary song. Needless to say that Rick Wakeman is just superb on the keys (mellotron). But to depict this album to this one masterpiece song only wouldn't be fair.

There is another one here. One of David's longest song (almost ten minutes). The sublime "Cygnet Committee". This song is announcing in some way "Rock & Roll Suicide". Same wonderful crescendo but a lot more developed here. A song full of passion, paranoia (already.) whose conclusion is "I want to live" which is just the opposite of "R & R .". A great, great song. One of my all time fave from the man. THE highlight IMHHO.

This album remains very much folkish: "An Occasional Dream" could have been written by John B. Sebastian, and the over-orchestrated and mellowish "Wild Eyed Boy." sounds almost as a "Moody Blues" one.

The love song "Letter To Hermione" in remembrance of Hermione Farthingale (a dancer whom he met in 68) is just a light piece of music, a bit sad, showing an hesitant Bowie.

The closing number refers to a festival that David organized in London in the fall of 69. But it won't be as David wanted it to be. He will be disillusioned with this event and will report it in "Memory Of A Free Festival". While the first part is an emotional report of what happened, the second one is repetitive and dull. The same phrase being repeated endlessly (well, for about three minutes).

The album charted moderately, which was felt as another failure. By the end of 1969, Visconti presented him a certain Mick Ronson. The Ziggy adventure is slowly on its way.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Space Oddity followed his debut album and whilst it contains the infamous ' Space Oddity' track which is alive and kicking to this very day ( even the young kids know it), the album is not a major breakthrough other than the title track. It is very much a work in progress leading on to much bigger and better days. Still quite folkish sounding there are still a few gems like ' Janine' and ' God Knows I'm Good'. In terms of whose who there are notable contributions from Tony Visconti, John Lodge and Rick Wakeman. A good overall album from David Bowie. Three stars.
Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars SPACE ODDITY is, of course, not a prog album, but I must admit it almost felt like one when I first discovered it in the 1970s. Not that it featured a plethora of sudden tempo changes or screaming synthesizer solos. It was the EXUBERANT CLIMAXES wot did it! As a sentimental teenager I felt that to prog's greatest triumphs lay in dramatic climaxes to extended compositions like "Ritual" and "Supper's Ready". And on SPACE ODDITY the young Bowie seemed to provide the same sort of thing in "Cygnet Committee". This track is nearly ten minutes long, so surely you could call it Bowie's very own epic? I mean, most of the excitement is provided by Bowie's voice (backed by acoustic guitar, bass and drums) which goes from slow, cabaret-like singing to rapid, anguished shouting: surely that's excitement enough already? But then, to top it all, you also get Mr Rick Wakeman accompanying our hero, going berserk on electric harpsichord. Surely all this is much proggier than "Cans and Brahms"!

The remainder of the album cannot lay claim to prog credentials, even though mellotron freaks will be familiar with the title track. It is filled with sensitive (and occasionally sentimental) acoustic and theatrical ballads, and there's at least one song ("Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed") which clearly foreshadows Bowie's glam rock phase, although it goes on too long. I'm also fond of the starry-eyed "Memory of A Free Festival", which almost sounds like a Jon Anderson solo song. Ah, Youth...

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album (originally released in the UK as Man of Words, Man of Music in 1969, then re-released under this title in 1972, after Bowie was suddenly the most androgynous thing since sliced bread and the title track was re-released as a hit single) actually feels like the debut album of a future successful artist, whereas David Bowie sounded like an embarrassing high school yearbook photo. Some material is fantastic, some fails miserably, but on the balance this is a slightly more enjoyable album than not.

For this album, David decided to play a Dylan-influenced hippie. There's a lot of acoustic guitar, and a lot of rambling, borderline nonsensical lyrics and melodies, and whatever else Bowie's checklist indicated to him he'd need to act the part. The most Dylan-ish tracks on the album, alas, are the worst, and they're pretty long. "Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed" might have been borderline acceptable at 3 minutes (the opening 30 seconds or so, with the moody acoustic lines and melancholy pings of electric guitar, show a lot of promise), but it gets extended to a nearly unbearable 6:12, featuring ridiculous lyrics, endless harmonica solos and other features that would have best suited a mocking satire of Dylan rather than an homage. "Cygnet Committee" is even worse, taking almost 10 minutes to go absolutely nowhere and providing nothing in the way of interesting melodies or intriguing atmosphere.

There are some other mediocre throwaways (the brief interlude "(Don't Sit Down)," "Letter to Hermione," "Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud"), but fortunately the rest ranges from good to great. The opening title track, of course, is the main reason that people have any significant interest in this album; it's just about the best moon landing-inspired song not found on To Our Children's Children's Children. This, of course, is Bowie's famous "Ground control to Major Tom" song, tracking Major Tom's trip into space from launch until he makes it out there and ground control loses him (immediately after the great simple exchange of, "Tell my wife I love her very much,"/"She knows"). The music is full of fantastic elements, from the nearly perfect use of mellotrons in the right spots, to the great set of melodies, to the simple epic guitar lines before the upward synth line that proceeds the "floating" breaks, to goodness knows what else. If nothing else, this is the first time to indicate that maybe, just maybe, David Bowie was actually a potentially major talent.

The other good tracks, somewhat oddly, are all on the second half of the album. "Janine" has a nice mix of acoustic and electric guitars and a melody with an interesting flow, and Bowie's rough vocals somehow serve the song well. "An Occasional Dream" could have made a decent (not great, but decent) Moody Blues song; "God Knows I'm Good" is a surprisingly charming story (with a nice melody to boot) of a woman stealing food and pleading that God knows she's still a good person; and of course, "Memory of a Free Festival" ends up working as a Bowie version of "Hey Jude." The main song isn't especially great, moody accordion notwithstanding, but the extended coda, featuring the repeated phrase, "The sun machine is coming down and we're gonna have a party," is reeeeally addictive. Besides, the moody accordion never disappears! It's a nice touch, what can I say.

Overall, Space Oddity is a decent enough effort, but it's pretty clear that Bowie was going to have to head in yet another different direction if he wanted sustained success. Of course, just how true that statement would turn out to be over the years wouldn't have been apparent at this point, but that's aside the point. As with most Bowie albums, you're best off grabbing the better material and ditching the rest.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars David Bowie's second album - originally another self-titled one, and variously retitled Man of Words/Man of Music (for a US release) and eventually becoming generally known as Space Oddity, thanks to the show-stealing title track - is often mistaken for his first, mainly because of the way he generally distanced himself from his debut album over the years whilst regularly revisiting the themes of the title track.

And you've got to admit, Space Oddity the song is pretty exceptional. Granted, it was given a big boost because it happened to be released shortly before the Moon landings, and was picked out by the BBC to be used as incidental music during their coverage of the story, but it's still Bowie's first fully-developed song and his vocal performance (and clever use of the Stylophone!) is electrifying. It's also of interest for prog fans because of Rick Wakeman's contribution - his mellotron and piano playing are important to the song's sound, and it seems more than likely that the song's success helped Rick along his way to his role in the Strawbs, so here we see him on his first steps on the long path from session musician to prog elder statesman.

The rest of the album is inevitably a disappointment after that starter - Bowie's talents hadn't quite hit the point where he could sustain such quality over an entire album - but it's still of interest. Pursuing a spaced-out prog-folk style with a few songs - God Knows I'm Good, Letter to Hermione, and The Cygnet Committee - that seem to build on or revisit ideas from his debut, Bowie embraces a hippy-influenced folky image that was just on its way towards going out of style, once again following fashion rather than creating it as he would at his peak. Space Oddity is a three star album with one five-star track on it.

Latest members reviews

5 stars By the way, this is the reissue of this album, so it's called "Space Oddity", not "David Bowie". I'm usually alright with both titles, but I do prefer "Space Oddity" as the title of the album. After having an unsuccessful album under his birth name, Bowie decided to change his name, writer be ... (read more)

Report this review (#1008680) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Tuesday, July 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Although Bowie was still finding his way, this was a clear leap in class from his earlier recordings. Space Oddity contains some moments of beauty, sadness and intensity. Many of the songs are folky, especially the Dylanesque (is that a word?) "Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed." The title tr ... (read more)

Report this review (#429530) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Friday, April 8, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Space Oddity had enormous airplay in Australia when re-released in 1972 and was a favourite radio song of mine which then led to the purchase of the album as a 14yo teenager. The track Space Oddity stands apart from the rest of the album and it is no surprise that it has a different producer (G ... (read more)

Report this review (#363353) | Posted by KeepItDark | Saturday, December 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This marks the start of my reviews of my David Bowie collection (although i dont have all his albums i have a fair few, well all the old ones anyway) There's quite a lot i can say about this album, there's quite a lot of genre's and styles from epic prog/folk rock (SPACE ODDITY, CYGNET COMMITEE) ... (read more)

Report this review (#282663) | Posted by FarBeyondProg | Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars While not Bowie's official debut, most fans choose to ignore the first album and come straight here as the start of Bowie's career. This album shows Bowie's first hints towards prog music (although the debut did not shy away from a little experimentation). Here Bowie brings up many hints of tech ... (read more)

Report this review (#174919) | Posted by burtonrulez | Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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