On January 8, on what would have been David Bowie’s 72nd birthday, Parlophone announced the forthcoming release of David Bowie rarities to mark the milestone of 50 years since the release of breakthrough single “Space Oddity.” Now the label has announced further details, including side breaks and a release date.
Due out on April 5, Spying Through a Keyhole: Demos and Unreleased Songs is a 4×7″ vinyl box set of some of Bowie’s earliest material. It will feature nine rare, monaural recordings, including mostly solo vocal-and-guitar versions of familiar songs (“Space Oddity” in its earliest known version, “London Bye Ta Ta,” “In The Heat Of The Morning”) as well as the heretofore-unknown “Love All Around,” a lyric of which gives the set its title.
According to the new press release, the photo that adorns the box front and the included print inside the set was taken by Ray Stevenson in Tony Visconti’s flat in the summer of 1968. Meanwhile, each of the singles’ labels are presented to reflect the way David sent out many of his demos to publishers and record companies, featuring his own handwritten song titles on EMIDISC acetate labels.
While very much a historical set – the press release admits these tracks were briefly released to streaming services last year, no doubt to retain copyright on them, and is also up-front that “the recording quality isn’t always of a usual studio fidelity” – it’s an exciting new move for posthumous Bowie projects, which have previously been limited to a series of album box sets, live shows and vinyl ephemera, much of it previously released.
A track-by-track breakdown provided by the estate is below. We’ll update the post with pre-order links once they are live!
Side 1: “Mother Grey” (Demo)
This mid-tempo tale of a fledgling son fleeing the nest features multi-tracked vocals, guitars and harmonica from Bowie.
Side 2: “In The Heat Of The Morning” (Demo)
A well-known early Bowie song but presented here in demo form with final lyrics.
Side 1: “Goodbye 3d (Threepenny) Joe” (Demo)
A charming demo from 1968 not to be confused with “Threepenny Pierrot,” a song performed by Bowie captured for posterity in the Scottish TV production of Pierrot In Turquoise early in 1970.
Side 2: “Love All Around” (Demo)
A delightful love song from whence the title of this collection came: “I see a pop tune spying through a keyhole from the other room.”
Side 1: “London Bye, Ta-Ta” (Demo)
An early demo version of the song with completely different lyrics in a couple of the verses compared to those of the later full band versions.
Side 2: “Angel Angel Grubby Face” (Demo Version 1)
The first and only previously known demo of this song.
Side 1: “Angel Angel Grubby Face” (Demo Version 2)
A later version of the same song with alternative lyrics.
“Space Oddity” (Demo Excerpt)
The lyric and arrangement variations lend weight to the theory that this fragment is possibly the first ever recorded demo of one of Bowie’s most famous songs.
Side 2: “Space Oddity” (Demo) with John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson
Originally conceived as a song for a duo to perform, this is the first known version to feature John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson again with lyric and arrangement variations.