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David Bowie Space Oddity [Aka: David Bowie, Man of Words / Man of Music] album cover
3.35 | 378 ratings | 15 reviews | 13% 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 Daze (6:55)
[3.] hidden track (Don't Sit Down) (0:39)
3. Letter to Hermione (2:28)
4. Cygnet Committee (9:33)
5. Janine (3:18)
6. An Occasional Dream (2:51)
7. Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud (4:45)
8. God Knows I'm Good (3:13)
9. Memory of a Free Festival (7:05)

Total Time 46:02

Bonus tracks on 1990 remaster:
11. Conversation Piece (1970 single B-side) (3:05)
12. Memory of a Free Festival (Part 1) (1970 single) (3:59)
13. Memory of a Free Festival (Part 2) (1970 single B-side) (3:31)

Line-up / Musicians

- David Bowie / vocals, acoustic & 12-string guitars, Stylophone, kalimba, Rosedale organ, arrangements (1)

- Mick Wayne / guitar
- Tim Renwick / guitar, flute, recorder
- Keith Christmas / acoustic guitar
- Rick Wakeman / Mellotron, electric harpsichord
- Tony Visconti / bass, flute, recorder, arranger & producer
- Herbie Flowers / bass
- Terry Cox / drums
- Paul Buckmaster / cello, arrangements (1)
- Benny Marshall & Friends / harmonica
- John Lodge ("Honk") / bass (11)
- John Cambridge / drums (11)
- Mick Ronson / guitar (12,13)
- Mick Woodmansey / drums (12,13)

Releases information

Artwork: Vernon Dewhurst with DB (concept)

LP Philips - SBL 7912 (1969, UK) Originally entitled "David Bowie"
LP Mercury ‎- SR 61246 (1969, US) Entitled "Man of Words / Man of Music" with new cover and omits hidden track
LP RCA Victor ‎- LSP-4813 (1972, UK) Entitled "Space Oddity" and again omitting hidden track and w/ different cover art

CD RCA ‎- PD 84813 (1984, Europe)
CD EMI ‎- CDP 79 1835 2 (1990, Europe) Remastered by Toby Mountain with 3 bonus tracks and recovered hidden track as track 3

Thanks to micky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy DAVID BOWIE Space Oddity [Aka: David Bowie, Man of Words / Man of Music] Music

DAVID BOWIE Space Oddity [Aka: David Bowie, Man of Words / Man of Music] ratings distribution

(378 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

DAVID BOWIE Space Oddity [Aka: David Bowie, Man of Words / Man of Music] reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ZowieZiggy
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
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
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
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.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nş 112

'Space Oddity' is the second studio album of David Bowie and was released in 1969. It was regarded as a mix of folk, rock, psychedelic, space, pop and progressive rock and a transition album between the music of the 60's and what would be the future music of the 70's. So, basically 'Space Oddity' can be viewed, in retrospect, as all that Bowie had been and a little of what he would become, in the next years. It represents a big step in relation with his debut album. It was regarded as a mix of folk, rock, psychedelic, spacey music, pop and progressive rock. We can say that basically it's a transition album between the music of the 60's and what would be the future music of the 70's.

'Space Oddity' has ten tracks. All songs were written and composed by Bowie. The first track is the title track 'Space Oddity'. It was released as a single in 1969. The song is about the launch of Major Tom, a fictional astronaut, which name alludes to the science fiction film '2001: A Space Odyssey', directed by Stanley Kubrick. This is a fantastic song with interesting lyrics and good music, very relevant even today, and is a mark of the end of the 60's. It became an icon and a masterful song of him. Rick Wakeman was superb on the mellotron and gives to the track a progressive final touch. The second track 'Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed' is another great song that starts with Bowie's 12 string acoustic guitar and that soon moves into a more rock style with great rhythm and a fantastic harmonica working. This is a typical folk/rock song in the usual Bob Dylan's musical style. The third track '(Don't Sit Down)' is a very short track with only 40 seconds. It can't be considered properly a song. It has no musical structure but only a spontaneous studio joke made during the recording sessions. In some later releases, it was even removed, showing that it can't be considered properly a truly song. The fourth track 'Letter To Hermione' is a nice acoustic ballad, the first of the album. It's a love letter to Hermione Farthingale that became Bowie's girlfriend and they lived together for a short while, in London. It's a beautiful and interesting song where Bowie shows his soul in a very real and poignant way. The fifth track 'Cygnet Committee' is a very ambitious progressive folk rock song and represents one of the lengthiest Bowie's studio recording songs. Lyrically is very strong and one of the highlights of the album. It's an epic track with nearly 10 minutes long and where Bowie provides a beautiful vocal work. It's a lengthy song that gradually moves from slow to rapid and vice versa. The sixth track 'Janine' is the second folk rock song on the album with a pure Bob Dylan's musical style. It's a beautiful acoustic ballad with nice and interesting lyrics and where the melody has an interesting flowing. It's a song with a nice mixture of acoustic and electric guitar works, a good bass line and where Bowie's vocals serve the song perfectly well. The seventh track 'An Occasional Dream' is a short and gentle love song with a beautiful flute musical arrangement about a very brief and intense affair. We are in presence of another folk rock ballad with a very interesting, pleasant and peaceful tune. The eighth track 'Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud' was the song chosen to be released as the B side of the single 'Space Oddity'. It's one of the most progressive songs on the album in the pure symphonic style. It's a song with good lyrics and is divided into several musical sections, which features full orchestral arrangements. It's also the debut song recorded by Bowie with Mick Ronson. The ninth track 'God Knows I'm Good' is another folk song where Bowie plays his 12 string acoustic guitar, which he often do on the album. It has a nice melody and an interesting catchy story, a woman stealing food and saying to God that she remains a good person. It's a very good folk song with great acoustic guitar working. The tenth and last track 'Memory Of A Free Festival' is the second epic song of the album. It's a psychedelic folk space rock song with good lyrics and nice tunes. The track is about a festival that Bowie organized in London, in 1969. I agree with some reviewers when they say that the first part is very interesting, but the second part is a little bit repetitive. Anyway, this is an interesting way to close this nice album.

Conclusion: This is my first review of a Bowie's studio album on Progarchives. However, I had already reviewed his live album 'Stage', before. This is also one my oldest albums in my vinyl collection and I must confess that I always had a soft spot for this album. It always was and it still remains to me, as one of my favourite albums from Bowie. I can clearly see some parallelism between 'Space Oddity', Genesis' 'Trespass' and Tim Buckley's 'Goodbye And Hello', but due to different reasons. 'Space Oddity' is for Bowie's fans the same thing that 'Trespass' is for Genesis' fans. Despite both albums being the second studio albums from them, both represent, in a certain way, their real debut album. By the other hand, 'Space Oddity' and 'Goodbye And Hello' are two excellent albums and both represent, in my humble opinion, two of the best and most representative albums from progressive folk and psychedelic music. They represent, in my humble opinion, two of the best examples of the changing of the rock music in the end of the 60's. So, despite it can't be considered a masterpiece or an excellent album it has its merits and deserves to be fully appreciated.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by Matti
3 stars It took David Bowie quite a long time to rise to the top of the pop world. His naiive debut album from 1967 is rather outdated. This second album also was originally without a specific title, but due to the success of the song 'Space Oddity', it is nowadays known by that name. Even though the wonderful and at the time very topical song about astronaut Major Tom is among Bowie's best known and most beloved evergreens, the album as a whole doesn't enjoy the similar high status. Listener who expects to get more songs with such charm and commercial potential will probably be disappointed. But as the ratings prove, this album certainly has its strengths that place it firmly in the good middle league in Bowie's vast discography.

Some songs are frankly pretty forgettable (while I'm writing this without the album playing, and months since the last time I listened to it, I have very thin memories of e.g. 'Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Daze' or 'An Occasional Dream'). 'God Knows I'm Good' I do remember well, but only because it's so simple and repetitive, and therefor a weak effort. Brief 'Letter to Hermione' is a nice acoustic ballad, and 'Janine' is compared here to Bob Dylan's folk period. The 9½-minute 'Cygnet Committee' is undoubtedly a highlight from the prog listener's point of view, and also 'Memory of a Free Festival' has an interesting feel of an epic, even though the repetition of the line "Sun machine is coming out / and we're gonna have a party" lasts a bit too long in the end. But my favourite besides 'Space Oddity' (which I love!) is 'Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud', a masterful blend of fine vocals, moving lyrics and beautiful elegance of the orchestral arrangement.

This album shows Bowie in the early phases of his slow and gradual progress of becoming one of the leading singer-songwriters in pop/rock, but with at least one foot in the folk territory and some late-sixties' psychedelic scent still lingering in the air. It was followed by the relatively hard rocking The Man Who Sold the World (1970), which introduced Bowie's central collaborator Mick Ronson and is generally seen as the beginning of his classic era. However, I personally enjoy Space Oddity more. In some ways the folky charm and the arrangement excellence on certain highlights of this album point towars (and perhaps occasionally even beat) seminal Hunky Dory (1971) -- which of course is a clear winner when it comes to multi-style song-writing.

Review by DangHeck
3 stars Notably but not Incredibly Better than His First: Psych-Folk-Rock Sophomoric Sophomore

Released nearly 2 years after his commercial flop, his first self-titled (1967), Space Oddity (a.k.a. also David Bowie) has a harder psychedelic slant, fit for the Summer of Love, but also notably has perfectly timely Progressive Rock leanings. Perhaps most famously, here, featuring Rick WAKEMAN, it also features Herbie FLOWERS (T. REX, SKY) and Terry COX (The PENTANGLE, HUMBLE PIE).

Heading off is one of Bowie's most famous, most recognizable tunes, "Space Oddity" (to me, ironically disliked by Visconti so much he didn't want to produce it?). 'Commencing countdown, engines on / Check ignition and may God's love be with you.' It's simple, and now, yes, very much inspired by the spectacular "2001: A Space Odyssey" by Kubrick, but the countdown to this and the song proper is so epic.

"Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed" is very much hazy and then picks up with heavy unmistakably-Psych- era drums. Ultimately, a hard-boogie pop song. And I hear here the Bob Dylan comparison clearer than I ever could have imagined before.

"Letter to Hermione" is a soft, folksy number.

One that may be more familiar is the very progressive mini-epic "Cygnet Committee". Pretty great composition with beautiful melodies. Heartfelt, but rockin'.

Back in the groove is "Janine". Feels a bit like the KINKS from this era (I'm thinking Village Green Preservation Society or Arthur). It works, but it's nothing super special.

Of a very interesting tone and feel is "An Occasional Dream", with soft percussion and flute and recorder(?). This is matched by the next track, "Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud", a return to his Baroque Pop beginnings. It's very dreamy and regal. A surprise favorite for me.

"God Knows I'm Good" is a light folk rock song. It's definitely a lowlight. "Memory of a Free Festival" alternatively is very ambitious in its psychedelia, but doesn't offer a whole lot else. It does at least only get better as it goes, in my opinion.

Latest members reviews

3 stars That's one small step for Major Tom - one giant leap for David Bowie. Or is it the other way around? David Bowie had tried and tried and tried with different band constellations, artist names and style changes, releasing a handful of singles between 1964 and 1967 as well as his debut album in 196 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2496602) | Posted by The Anders | Saturday, January 23, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars An improvement over the debut album and first memorable tracks appear here with a moments of brilliance. On the other hand, the album is inconsistent and contains dull moments such as the last extended jam. "Cygnet Commitee" might be ambitious at its stretch but isn't nearly that strong as some ... (read more)

Report this review (#2311816) | Posted by sgtpepper | Sunday, February 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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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