Those of you paying attention will note that this is the second album titled “David Bowie” and it has an aka title. What’s going on ? Well, in July 1969 Bowie released the single that would finally give him a hit, “Space Oddity”. In November Philips Records released his 2nd studio album, imaginatively titled “David Bowie” (or the excruciating “Man Of Words/Man Of Music” as it was retitled by Mercury in the USA). When a deal was done in 1972 to allow RCA, Bowie’s new record company, to re-issue the album it was given new artwork featuring a contemporary Ziggy picture front and back (lifting a leaf from the Decca playbook there) and retitled “Space Oddity”.
Right, now we’ve got that out of the way what about the music. The album opens with “Space Oddity”…we all know “Space Oddity” right ? So no need for me to go into detail here, other than to say there was a time I heard it so much I stopped listening to it, but on the rare occasions I now come back to it, like today, boy oh boy what a thing it is.
The rest of the album is a strange thing, equal parts almost there (most of “Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed” and “The Wild Eyed Boy Freecloud”) versus some real Hippy-drippy-folky nonsense (“Letter To Hermione” and “An Occasional Dream”) with a sprinkling of weird (“God Knows I’m Good”).
I know he was broken hearted but “Letter To Hermione” (that being Hermione Farthingale who had dumped him to go off and make a film in Norway, or something like that) is the ramblings of a love sick 14 year old. “An Occasional Dream” sounds like a hangover from the (never in a) show-tunes he was writing 2 years earlier. And there can’t be many who’ve woken up thinking “I know I’ll write a song about an OAP who goes shoplifting for a tin of stewing steak” but Bowie did with “God Knows I’m Good”.
My favourites here are “The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud” and “Memory Of A Free Festival”. “…Freecloud” had been the B-side of “Space Oddity” a few months earlier and was obviously liked enough to include it here too. “Memory Of A Free Festival”, in a Parts I & II format, was re-recorded and released as a single in the summer of 1970 but obviously flopped. It tells of a Festival arranged by the Beckenham Arts Lab, but whether “tall Venusians” had actually passed by or were a result of the “bliss” that passed through the crowd is unconfirmed.
“David Bowie (2)”/“Space Oddity” is a trying to get there record. Some elements are in place (Tony Visconti for instance) but all is not ready. It does however start to point to where Bowie was going in a year or so.
The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud - https://youtu.be/gDCor7efUOc