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  • Album: Reality

  • Video: Reality (DualDisc CD/DVD Edition)

  • Live: A Reality Tour

  • Live Video: Reality (Tour Edition DVD)/A Reality Tour

The fading chimes of "Never Get Old" segue into Reality's quietest, most contemplative track. Backed only by piano and ambient guitar textures, Bowie's vocal is at its most artfully fragile and naive in this haunting meditation on memory, fortune and happiness. Vague, impressionistic images tumble together in the fractured lyric: "Streets damp and warm / Empty smell metal / Weeds between buildings / Pictures on my hard drive...Steam under floor / Shard's by the mirror's frame". Specific resonances are left to the listener, but the impression is of an isolated soul wallowing in the emptiness of his existence, repeatedly insisting "I'm the luckiest guy, not the loneliest guy", while the tone of his voice and the mournful music tell us otherwise. It's a bleak, morose reflection on a barren life: "All the pages that have turned / All the errors left unlearned".

     "That song is a very despairing piece of work," David reflected in Interview magazine. "A guy qualifying his entirely hermetic, isolated existence by saying, 'Actually I'm a lucky guy. I'm not really alone - I just have myself to look after.' But in setting up the analogy of the city taken over by weeds, there is this notion that our ideas are inhabited by ghosts and that there's nothing in our philosophy - that all the big ideas are empty containers. I keep touching on something that I am awfully scared of: the prospect that there really is no meaning to anything. I was trying to avoid it like crazy on this album, but it did slip into that song."

     The image of the entropic, weed-infested city was inspired by a genuine model, as Bowie revealed: "I had this image of Brasilia - it seemed to be the perfect standard for an empty, godless universe. I think it's the most extraordinary city: these huge public squares with these 1950s, 1960s kind of sci-fi buildings. The architect Oscar Niemeyer designed all these places thinking that they were going to be filled with millions of people, and now there are about 200,000 people living there, so the weeds and the grass are growing back up through the stones of this brilliantly modernistic city. It's a set of ideas - the city which is being taken back over again by the jungle."

     Unusually, Mike Garson recorded his piano part for "The Loneliest Guy" not at Looking Glass Studios, but at his home studio in Bell Canyon in the San Fernando Valley. "I recorded it on synthesizer originally," Garson explained, "and then took home the MIDI file and re-recorded it on my 9-foot Yamaha Disklavier, recording it as it played back."

     The Reality promotional film included a performance clip of "The Loneliest Guy", in which a dark-suited Bowie emoted into a studio microphone in a set-up reminiscent of the Black Tie White Noise promos. The song made regular appearances an A Reality Tour, captivating even the most boisterous of audiences with its dramatic tone and delicate acoustics. Bowie squeezed out every ounce of its drama on stage and was often visibly touched by the vigorous applause. A performance on BBC1's Parkinson in November 2003 was of particular note, bringing this most delicate of the Reality songs to an even wider audience.


  • Album: Lodger

  • Bonus: Lodger

  • Video: The Video Collection/Best Of Bowie

  • Live Video: Serious Moonlight/Ricochet

A magnificent symbiosis of frenetic percussion and guitar, including a joyous rhythm solo from Carlos Alomar, is punctuated by Brian Eno's unlikely interjections on 'Horse trumpets' and 'Eroica horn' to propel one of Lodger's dramatic highlights. The working title was "Fury", before Bowie completed the lyrics and settled on "Look Back In Anger". There's no apparent connection with John Osborne's 1956 kitchen-sink drama; instead the song concerns itself with intimations of mortality as a fatalistic Bowie is visited by a down-at-heel angel of death who "coughed and shook his crumpled wings, closed his eyes and moved his lips" to declare "it's time we should be going".

     David Mallet's superb video, inspired by The Picture Of Dorian Gray, casts Bowie as a Bohemian painter in an attic studio whose self-portrait has the reverse effect of Dorian's: Bowie finds the skin of his own face beginning to corrupt and melt. Despite the video, "Look Back In Anger" failed to make any chart impact in America, where it was released in preference to "Boys Keep Swinging". It was never a single in Britain.

      "Look Back In Anger" was performed live throughout the Serious Moonlight, Outside, Earthling and Heathen tours, a fine version being included in the BBC radio session of September 18th 2002. Following Bowie's significant makeover of the song for his ICA benefit performance in July 1988, a new seven-minute studio version was recorded with lead guitar by Reeves Gabrels (his first recording with Bowie) and Erdal Kizilcay on drums and bass. This version later appeared as a bonus track on Lodger.


  • Danish B-Side: May 1985

  • Live: Bowie At The Beeb (Bonus Disc)

"Looking For A Friend" received its first public airing as part of Bowie's BBC session on June 3rd 1971, at which David shared vocals with Mark Pritchett. This version, which now appears  on Bowie At The Beeb, is the only recording of the song to have received an official release. A superior 3'15" cut was recorded at Trident on June 17th by the short-lived Arnold Corns. Two variants of this recording have appeared on bootlegs, both featuring the same backing track of drums, bass and rhythm guitar, but differing significantly in other respects. On the less elaborate of the two, the lead vocal is again shared between Bowie, who sings the first verse, and Mark Pritchett, who takes over for the second.

     The other, better-known mix of the Arnold Corns version is altogether more polished, featuring additional overdubs of piano, guitar, backing vocals and percussion. Trevor Bolder and Mick Ronson are unmistakable in the mix, while lead guitar is played by Mark Pritchett. Although the lead vocal on this version has long been attributed to Freddie Burretti, it seems that the vocal duties were in fact shared between Mark Pritchett and a number of others, possibly including Mickey King of "Rupert The Riley" fame and certainly including Mick Ronson and David himself, who can clearly be heard in the choruses. Between them they demonstrate a convincingly swishy relish as they tackle the song's less than subtle subtext: "Been trolling too long, been losing out strong for the strength of another man." Arguably the finest of the extant versions, this recording is one of the most deliciously wonderful Bowie rarities to be found on the bootleg circuit: with barrelling piano, mincing handclaps and a singalong chorus, the satin and tat of "Queen Bitch" crosses paths with the Lou Reed demi-monde of "Waiting For The Man" (note the obvious titular similarity) in one of Bowie's most overly gay lyrics. The second verse differs slightly from the other recordings, substituting the line "I'm pretty as a picture, oh so nice, hoping that you might call" in place of "With the mirror on your backside face-to-face with the spaceman on the wall". Although intended as a single, this version remained unreleased until 1985 when the Scandinavian Krazy Kat label issued a 12" featuring three of the Arnold Corns songs.

     On November 11th 1971 "Looking For A Friend" was re-recorded during the early stages of the Ziggy Stardust sessions, but this version remains unheard. The ragged and non-committal 2'12" demo which bootleggers have traditionally labelled a Ziggy out-take is manifestly not the work of The Spiders, and is likely to derive from an earlier date from the Arnold Corns recording: the identities of the plainly unskilled backing musicians are lost in the mists of time, but Bowie is known to have enlisted numerous little-known players to help out on his Radio Luxembourg demos earlier in the year. "Looking For A Friend" was still in Bowie's live set at the Aylesbury gig of September 25th 1971, but it had disappeared from his repertoire by the end of the year.


  • Album: Black Tie White Noise

  • B-Side: October 1993

The spunky jazz trumpet of Lester Bowie is the defining sound of Black Tie White Noise and this instrumental, in which the two Bowies chase each other's riffs on trumpet and saxophone, is at the album's musical heart. It's a sophisticated slice of techno-jazz whose title, Bowie admitted, is borrowed from John Coltrane's "Chasing The Trane". "Looking For Lester" also marks the return of pianist Mike Garson, last heard on Young Americans and hereafter reinstated as an integral contributor to Bowie's sound. "He really has a gift," David told Record Collector in 1993. "He kind of plops those jewels on the track and they're quite extraordinary, eccentric pieces of piano playing."


  • Album: Earthling

  • US Promo: 1997

In August 1996, shortly before the commencement of the Earthling sessions, the world's press erupted with reports that possible traces of life had been detected on Mars. As well as guaranteeing airplay for a certain track in Bowie's back catalogue, the news both enthralled and appalled David. "The idea that there's formed ice on the other side of the moon, and that there are water patterns on some of the planets, I think that's scintillating," he remarked later. "It absolutely, definitely points to life. Oh, what would we do then?" "Looking For Satellites", the second Earthling track to be recorded, taps into a story which for a few weeks had held the world's collective breath, pondering not so much the nature of alien life as the human ramifications of discovering its existence: "Where do we go from here? / There's something in the sky...Who do we look to now?" The same theme was tackled by Carl Sagan's 1985 novel Contact, which was being made into a film at the time of the Earthling sessions.

     The shuffling backbeat recalls the ambient funk of the previous album's "I Have Not Been To Oxford Town" but here, courtesy of one of Bowie's most beautiful chord progressions, the atmosphere is one of wistful uncertainty rather than chilly inevitability. The background textures are unified by a repetitive vocal cut-up which underscores the track like a mantra, creating a phonetic rather than a textual resonance. "I used words randomly," David explained, "'Shampoo', 'TV', Boy's Own', whatever I said first, stayed in." It is, incidentally, "Boy's Own", not "Boyzone"; David later admitted that at the time of recording he had never heard of the Irish boy-band, who were at the peak of their UK success at the time of Earthling: "I have to come clean," he said in 1999. "When I was very, very young, there was a comic I used to buy called Boy's Own Paper, lovingly called BOP, and it was one of the fragments that I threw into "Satellites". I was immediately buried under letters telling me that it was one of the hottest new bands in England as well, which I must say I was quite delighted with."

     Bowie described "Looking For Satellites" as "a straight, rational piece about where we find ourselves at this particular point in this era: somewhere between religion and technology, and not quite sure where to go next. It's kind of a poignant feeling, standing alone on a beach at night looking for a satellite...but what you're really looking for is an answer." In Alien Encounters magazine he added, "It's as near to a spiritual song as I've ever written: it's measuring the distance between the crucifixion and flying saucers."

     "Looking For Satellites" features a remarkable contribution from Reeves Gabrels, whose intricate, fuzzy guitar solo builds to an extraordinary climax. "I didn't think the song should have a solo and David insisted," Gabrels later revealed, "So what you're hearing is me being pissed off that I had to put a guitar solo in the song that I thought shouldn't have one. After it I left the room, got a cup of coffee and thought that it might have been one of the best things I have ever done." David explained that "I told him I only wanted him to play on one string at a time. He had to stay on the low E string until the chord changed, then he could go up to the A. When it changed again he could go to the D. He was hemmed in by the chord until it changed, and that made his run-up most unorthodox. He just loved it." Gabrels continues: "When I got to the section where I was supposed to stop, I just thought, 'Fuck this!' and broke out of the rule, playing through the chorus...Because of the restriction David put on me, it has a nice developmental curve, even though I'm overplaying. It has a nice orgasmic release."

     A radio-friendly edit appeared as a promo in America, but plans to release the track as a single (with an unheard Mandarin vocal version as the B-side) were abandoned - to the disappointment of Mike Garson, who considered it the best track on the album. The song was performed at Bowie's fiftieth birthday concert and throughout the Earthling tour.


  • Album: Reality

  • Live Video: Reality (Tour Edition DVD)

"Looking For Water" masquerades as a straightforward rock number, laying Earl Slick's discordant guitar squeals over a repetitive descending bassline and a metronomic drum figure. Not for the first time on Reality, there are echoes of Never Let Me Down: the rhythmic and melodic phrasing, not to mention the hypnotic reiteration of the song's title, recall the "Mummy come back cause the water's all gone" chorus of "Glass Spider".

     However, the direct musical attack is offset by one of Reality's most intriguing lyrics. The bleakness of "The Loneliest Guy" transmutes into wholesale post-9/11 nihilism ("I lost God in a New York minute / Don't know about you but my heart's not in it"), and the underlying anger is quite new. "I think probably it must have something to do with the Middle East," Bowie deadpanned disingenuously when asked about the lyric in 2003. "When I wrote it, I just had this image of somebody crawling through the desert looking for the water, which is the most clichéd image that you can come up with. But then that made me think, well, the only thing he would be looking at would be the oil pumps. And the oil pumps seem to be working, but there is no water. This must be about a military, industrial situation - a complex of some kind. It must be about an administration that has a manifesto that was probably written in the late nineties that's being carried through now. That's kind of what was on my mind."

     As if to seal the ironic broadside against American foreign policy, "Looking For Water" also contains the first of two references on Reality to "the dawn's early light" which, as well as being a line from Mort Shuman's translation of "Amsterdam", is of course a quotation from the opening line of "The Star-Spangled Banner".

     "Looking For Water" was performed live on A Reality Tour, and in 2004 the studio version featured in the soundtrack of Wim Wender's film Land Of Plenty.

LOUIE, LOUIE GO HOME (Revere/Lindsay)

  • B-Side: June 1964

  • B-Side: September 1978

  • Compilation: Early On (1964-1966)

The B-side of Bowie's first single, originally pencilled in as the A-side, is a cover version of an obscure track by Paul Revere & The Raiders, whose own 1960 debut had been a cover of Richard Berry's better-known "Louie Louie". The Raiders' "Louie, Go Home" (as they called it) appeared in 1964 as a self-penned follow-up. To confuse matters further, 1964 was the year that The Kingsmen's hit version of the original "Louie Louie" transformed the song from a mildly influential R&B standard into a notorious succés de scandale and the subject of a ludicrous FBI investigation. But that's another story.

     "Louie, Louie Go Home" by Davie Jones with The King Bees, a blatant faux-Beatles makeover to complement the A-side's Rolling Stones pretensions, was added to the band's live repertoire and later performed by The Manish Boys. Four decades later, David would borrow the call-and-response refrain of "Just a little bit louder now" for the Reality track "She'll Drive The Big Car". "Louie, Louie Go Home" was included on Early On and the 2005 Various Artists compilation And The Beat Goes On.


LOVE IS ALWAYS (Giroud/Albimoor/Bowie) see PANCHO


  • Album: The Next Day

  • Bonus: The Next Day Extra

  • Compilation: Nothing Has Changed

Reportedly one of David's favourite tracks from The Next Day, "Love Is Lost" was at one point going to be the album's title, and it was later included in the musical Lazarus. It's certainly among The Next Day's strongest cuts: a classic slice of Bowie melodrama, propelled by a prowling rhythm track somewhere between the trick-shot ska of "Ashes To Ashes" and the robotic glide of early Kraftwerk, over which Bowie fingers a coolly remorseless keyboard while Gerry Leonard adds splashes of snarling guitar. Tony Visconti described the track as "extremely advanced, very different. We used some techniques we used on Low, so sound-wise you might hear something familiar on that, but otherwise it's new." The most recognisable Low flashback is the return of the distorted snare effect famously showcased on tracks like "Breaking Glass" and "Sound And Vision", here given a moment in the spotlight during a delicious mid-song breakdown. There are echoes of other times too: parts of the melody, in particular Gerry Leonard's guitar stabs, offer a slowed-down variation on "Hallo Spaceboy".

     The backing track was cut on September 13th 2011, with Bowie's lead vocal recorded on November 19th and further overdubs added later. It was a track much admired by studio engineer Mario McNulty, who was impressed by Bowie's keyboard playing and the characteristically unpredictable chord changes in his songwriting: "There was one part he played on the bridge in "Love Is Lost" that made me shiver," McNulty recalled. "The chord progression came out of nowhere when David put it down on the Trinity. It was pure magic."

     The lyric of "Love Is Lost" is as oblique as any on The Next Day: "It's the darkest hour, you're twenty-two, the voice of youth, the hour of dread / The darkest hour and your voice is new," begins Bowie - but who is he addressing? A dispossessed young woman on the run from her past? Or perhaps his own 22-year-old self, a boy reeling at the loss of his first true love and about to find a new voice with "Space Oddity"? It's tempting to imagine that, as on "Where Are We Now?" and "Like A Rocket Man", Bowie is here dallying with his own legend, casting himself as an ageing Mephistopheles and urging his younger self to go ahead and seal a Faustian pact: success at the expense of the emotional well-being he will forfeit in the dark days ahead. The bleak conclusion, as a chorus of goblin backing vocals swirls through the mix and Bowie raggedly repeats an anguished cry of "Oh, what have you done? Oh, what have you done?", makes for a listening experience as affecting as anything that The Next Day has to offer.

     But Bowie is a storyteller, and personal readings of his lyrics must be handled with care. For Tony Visconti, the song was "not about a love affair, but how everyone has cut down their feelings in the internet age," and this is an interpretation that deserves as fair a hearing as any other. After all, the lyric is shot through with any number of other resonances. The echo of John Lennon's 1970 single "Love" ("Love is real, real is love") can hardly be an accident: Bowie often spoke of his particular fondness for its parent album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. And on this most synth-heavy of The Next Day's tracks, the insistent alternation of "say hello" and "wave goodbye" calls to mind Soft Cell's 1982 classic of tarnished love. Happenstance? Perhaps. But leaving such tantalising chinks in the walls of his work was ever one of Bowie's strongest suits.

     Some months after the release of The Next Day, "Love Is Lost" was subjected to a radical overhaul by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, with whom Bowie had recently struck up a rapport when he dropped into Electric Lady to contribute to Arcade Fire's Reflektor. Included on The Next Day Extra, Murphy's ten-and-a-half minute "Hello Steve Reich Mix" was described by Tony Visconti as "really incredible...It isn't simply a dance remix - there is quite a lot to it that is revealed after several listens. I tip my hat to Mr Murphy." Foremost among the innovations is the stripping away of the original rhythm track in favour of a chorus of hand-claps, cut and looped from a new recording of Steve Reich's 1972 composition Clapping Music, performed by Murphy and three of his colleagues - hence the title given to the remix. Also new are a blippy retro synthesizer line, a keyboard sample from "Ashes To Ashes" and, in the second half, a dancefloor-friendly reboot of the percussion track.

     A four-minute edit of the "Hello Steve Reich Mix" later included on some formats of Nothing Has Changed, was unveiled at the Mercury Prize ceremony on October 30th 2013 (The Next Day was among the nominees, but lost to James Blake's Overgrown). It was accompanied by a video conceived and directed the previous weekend by Bowie himself, with camerawork by photographer Jimmy King and assistance from Coco Schwab. The video was dropped onto the internet the following day, accompanied by a press release declaring that its total production budget was $12.99 - the price of a flash drive - a feat of economy achieved by shooting the entire clip in David's Manhattan offices, and pulling out of storage two of the life-sized mannequins made by Jim Henson's Creature Shop for the abandoned 1999 video of "The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell". The appearance of these wooden replicants - the Thin White Duke lurking in the shadows like the ghost of Bowie past, and the "Ashes To Ashes" Pierrot now blank-faced to receive projections of Bowie present in the style of the "Where Are We Now?" video - reinforces the sense that "Love Is Lost" finds Bowie re-examining his own mythology. Framing the encounter with his doppelgangers are shots of David washing his hands in a basin, echoing the video of "Thursday's Child".

     In November 2013 a second video appeared online, this time a ten-minute computer-generated epic accompanying the full-length "Hello Steve Reich Mix". Directed by Barnaby Roper, this remarkable piece begins with monochrome footage of hands clapping, which develop into a series of geometric shapes, at first resembling the tessellated patterns of an Escher engraving before dissolving into an ever-changing swirl of wave-forms and virtual landscapes until, from the chaos, two human bodies emerge, a computer-born Adam and Eve who begin to make love. Digital distortion consumes them and, amid corrupted glimpses of Bowie from the "Ashes To Ashes" video, their bodies revert to computer-generated mannequins and the images disintegrate once more into chaos. It's a hypnotic video, and well worth seeking out.


LOVE MISSILE F1-11 (Degville/Whitmore)

  • B-Side: September 2003

If Heathen's "I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship" had seemed an unlikely choice of cover version, then Bowie's decision to revive Sigue Sigue Sputnik's 1986 hit during the Reality sessions surely takes the biscuit. In its day, the original's notoriety rested largely on the fashion in which the band had gleefully ridden a wave of hype that allowed then to sign a reputed £1 million deal with EMI and propel the Giorgio Moroder-produced glam-punk confection of "Love Missile F1-11" to number 3 in the UK chart. The papers had a field day as debate raged over whether Sigue Sigue Sputnik represented a triumph of style over content, or whether their deft media-manipulation was part and parcel of their post-ironic art (they certainly anticipated the antics of artists like the KLF when they included genuine commercials between the tracks on their debut album Flaunt It).

     Either way, "Love Missile F1-11" is a tongue-in-cheek, unashamedly trashy and undeniably enjoyable excursion into the dumbness of rock and roll, setting an anarchic post-Pistols posture against a glammed-up rendering of an archetypal Eddie Cochran riff - in fact, it's not a million miles removed from "Round And Round", the Chuck Berry song played live by Bowie during his own breakthrough. Sigue Sigue Sputnik's methods in 1986 closely echoed Bowie's in 1972, and like so many acts of their time, the band genuflected before the master: founder member Tony James, formerly with Generation X, had encountered Bowie on the Marc TV show in 1977, and his Sigue Sigue Sputnik bandmates were all Bowie fans. "When we first signed to EMI, we told our A&R manager we'd only make a record if Prince or Bowie produced it," guitarist and co-writer Neal Whitmore told me. "We really were serious! We considered them far and away the greatest, most innovative and exciting artists of our generation. I still do think that. EMI promised us they had got a package to both of them, and they turned us down. Our A&R man quite brilliantly suggested Giorgio Moroder instead, and he did a brilliant job. We never really bought the EMI line about them having asked Prince or Bowie. I later met Prince at a party and I asked him about it. He didn't have a clue what I was talking about!"

     Bowie's entertaining cover of "Love Missile F1-11" faithfully reproduces the retro synthesizers, angry guitars and stereo pyrotechnics of the original. The track was included on the CD and the DVD formats of the "New Killer Star" single. "We were absolutely thrilled when David covered us," Neal Whitmore recalled. "What a compliment! The single biggest influence on my life and career had heard of us, and liked our work enough to do his own version. As Tony James put it at the time, 'The bastard sons of Ziggy covered by Ziggy Stardust himself'."

LOVE SONG (Duncan)

David's first encounter with the singer-songwriter Lesley Duncan came in 1966, when she was hired as a backing singer on the initial, unsuccessful recording of "I Dig Everything". Over the next few years, the couple enjoyed an on-off relationship during which, among other things, Duncan was apparently responsible for introducing David to the work of Jacques Brel via the recordings of another of her erstwhile paramours, Scott Walker. By 1968, David was occasionally to be found attending a hippyish meditation-cum-UFO-spotting group based at Duncan's Hampstead flat. Watching the skies for flying saucers was a pursuit later to be commemorated in "Memory Of A Free Festival", but in the meantime David introduced Lesley Duncan's composition "Love Song", later covered by Elton John on Tumbleweed Connection, into Feathers' folkish repertoire. Bowie recorded a 3'30" acoustic demo around April 1969, providing harmonies to a lead vocal by John Hutchinson.


  • Album: David Bowie

  • A-Side: July 1967

  • B-Side: May 1975

  • Compilation: The Deram Anthology 1966-1968/David Bowie: Deluxe Edition (2010)

  • Live: David Bowie: Deluxe Edition (2010)

  • Video: Love You Till Tuesday

This piece of worldly-wise cynicism masquerading as a paean to free love is one of Bowie's better-known Deram tracks and boasts one of his catchiest early melodies, later to be aped note-for-note by the theme tune of the BBC game show Blankety Blank.

     The David Bowie version was recorded on February 25th 1967. A second take, featuring a new vocal, a vigorous string arrangement by Ivor Raymonde and a vaudeville play-out of "Hearts And Flowers" from Czibulka's Winter Marching, was recorded at Decca on June 3rd 1967, two days after the album's release. It was this second version that appeared as a single on July 14th, becoming the first Bowie release to receive substantially favourable reviews. Record Retailer called it a "mature and stylish performance which could easily make it", while Record Mirror added that "This boy really is something different...I reckon it's a stand-out single. Liked it; recommend it." In Disc, Penny Valentine declared that "This is a very funny rather bitter little love song about how he'll always love her - at least for four days. His incredible sense of timing and humour come over perfectly in this record. It would be nice if more people appreciated him." Melody Maker's Chris Welch positively glowed, describing Bowie as "one of the few really original solo singers operating in the theatre of British pop...Very funny, and deserves instant recognition."

     In the same paper, no less a personage than Syd Barrett reviewed "Love You Till Tuesday" during a monosyllabic overview of the week's new releases: "Yeah, it's a joke number. Jokes are good. Everybody likes jokes. The Pink Floyd like jokes. It's very casual. If you play it a second time, it might be even more of a joke. Jokes are good. The Pink Floyd like jokes. I think that was a funny joke. I think people will like the bit about it being Monday, when in fact it was Tuesday. Very chirpy, but I don't think my toes were tapping at all." Kenneth Pitt took great exception and later described Barrett's remarks as "moronic". Interestingly, Barrett's comments were made just as his own hit single "See Emily Play", later covered by Bowie, was storming up the charts - and only a month before Melody Maker reported the first attack of "nervous exhaustion" that was soon to deprive British rock of one of its brightest talents.

     Even in America, where the single appeared in September, "Love You Till Tuesday" received critical plaudits. Cash Box announced that "orchestrations packed with zest, a delivery with all the punch of an on-stage pub performance, and some wild lyrics should put this power-house platter high in the running for a top chart spot." Despite the unprecedented notices, the single failed on both sides of the Atlantic.

     Bowie performed the song for Dutch TV's Fenkleur on November 8th 1967, and the following month included it in his first BBC radio session on December 18th, faithfully recreating the arrangement of the single version: this performance was later released on 2010's David Bowie: Deluxe Edition. He went on to perform it for German TV's 4-3-2-1 Musik Fur Junge Leute on February 27th 1968, and at around the same time he sang it during the London run of Lindsay Kemp's mime production Pierrot In Turquoise. In August of the same year it was included in David's ill-fated cabaret showcase. The song also featured over the opening credits of the 1969 film Love You Till Tuesday, for which David mimed to the single version (now minus the "Hearts And Flowers" coda) against a white backdrop and sporting a groovy blue Ossie Clark suit. At Trident on January 24th and 29th 1969 he recorded "Lieb' Dich Bis Dienstag", a German language version set to the single arrangement with lyrics translated by Lisa Busch, intended for the proposed German cut of the film.

     A 3'15" demo, recorded in 1966 with Bowie accompanying himself on guitar, has appeared on bootlegs. Of particular interest is a middle eight cut from the later versions, in which David sings "I'm the coffee in your coffee [sic], the spoon in your tea / If you've got a problem then it's probably me / I'm hiding every place that you are." Interestingly, the "like the sugar in your tea" appears in Eartha Kitt's "Aprés Moi", a song whose cheeky spoken coda ("Oh well, I really didn't like him anyway") might have prompted the sign-off at the end of Bowie's number; it appears on Kitt's 1955 album Down To Eartha alongside "The Day That The Circus Left Town", another song that left its mark on David.

     In 2007, a cover version by Heirloom Dork appeared on the Finnish Various Artists compilation Kuudes Ulottuvus. And not a lot of people know that.


Having performed it at a few gigs at around the same time, Bowie demoed this 4'48" acoustic number with John Hutchinson around April 1969. Blessed with the duo's customary Simon and Garfunkel-influenced harmonies, it's of immense interest as the prototype for "Cygnet Committee". There's none of the later song's rhythmic intensity, musical complexity or anti-hippy sentiment, the familiar opening lyrics developing instead into a furious harangue aimed, one can only assume, at the recently departed Hermione Farthingale: "Don't be so crazy, bitter girl...we're not just sitting here digging you." A fascinating curio.


  • Album: Tonight

  • A-Side: May 1985

  • A-Side: April 2002

  • Download: May 2007

  • Live: Glass Spider (2007 CD/DVD Release)/A Reality Tour

  • Compilation: Best Of Bowie/Club Bowie

  • Video: The Video Collection/Best Of Bowie

  • Live Video: Glass Spider/A Reality Tour

The opening track of Tonight perfectly summarises the album's malaise: it's a terrific piece of songwriting, but what should be a flight of operatic grandeur is dragged from the heights by insipid, over-elaborate production, spangly synth flourishes, dated echo-laden drumbeats and a ridiculously polite guitar break. Bowie later admitted apologetically that the demo was superior. Still, "Loving The Alien" is far from being a disaster. Arif Mardin's string arrangement is epic and the lilting marimba line is a pointer to Tonight's tentative embracing of world music, recalling the sight of Bowie raptly listening to a Thai percussion band in Ricochet not long before the sessions. David later said that the breathy "ah-ah-ah" backing vocals, reminiscent of Laurie Anderson's "O Superman", were borrowed from Philip Glass's Einstein On The Beach.

     The mere sight of the word "alien" has prompted many to assume that the song restates the sci-fi themes of the Ziggy period, but a moment's attention to the lyric reveals otherwise. Beneath the mild-mannered production "Loving The Alien" is a vehement diatribe against the blinkered sanctimony of organised religion: "If you pray all your sins are hooked upon the sky / Pray and the heathen lie will disappear / Prayers, they hide the saddest view." At the time Bowie described the song as "the most personalised bit of writing on the album for me; not to say that the others were written from a distance, but they're a lot lighter in tone. That one was me in there dwelling on the idea of the awful shit we've had to put up with because of the Church. That's how it started out: for some reason I was very angry." Using the bloodshed of the Crusades as its central image, "Loving The Alien" makes a plea for inter-denominational harmony - particularly between Christianity and Islam - and questions the motives of religious leaders. "The crunching thing about the Church is that it has always had so much power," Bowie explained. ""Alien" came about because of the feeling that so much history is wrong - as is being rediscovered all the time - and that we base so much on the wrong knowledge that we've gleaned...It's extraordinary considering all the mistranslations in the Bible that our lives are being navigated by this misinformation, and that so many people have died because of it."

     In May 1985 "Loving The Alien" was remixed and released as a single, apparently after David had come across a review of the album that suggested the track could be a hit. It was only a moderate success, stalling at number 19 despite the twin attractions of lavish packaging (the 12" included a pull-out poster), and a stunningly grandiose video. Co-directing with David Mallet, Bowie performs the song on an angular, Escher-like set alongside two bizarrely decorated backing musicians, spliced with a jumble of impressionistic shots of him walking on water, finding blood in a font, as a burning Templar, an organist rising on a Wurlitzer in front of a Raiders Of The Lost Ark-style fountain, and a groom in morning suit and top hat whose bride, in full Islamic dress, angrily tears the dollar bills from her clothes and discards them in a devastated wasteland. As an assault on religion's materialist edifices, its commodification of women and its culturally divisive teachings, the video is a serious-minded piece of work, although its undisciplined sprawl of ideas falls short of Bowie's finest promos. The linking image of a blue-skinned David, derived from Tonight's cover artwork, is presumably a symbolic attempt to cast himself as an outsider, neither white nor black, while the bizarre lightbulb-in-mouth image hails once again from Laurie Anderson's batty "O Superman" video. Two different edits exist, one of which excises the shots of Bowie's nosebleed.

     David's wife Iman would later cite the song as "one I'm particularly fond of. It seemed to anticipate our meeting," while David himself remarked in 1993 that "What I was trying to do was set up some line of thought that surrounded the possibility of harmony between Islam and Christian peoples. Little did I know that one day I'd marry a Muslim. This must have been prophetic!" Unsurprisingly, "Loving The Alien" was selected by the couple for inclusion on a five-track CD packaged with the early editions of Iman's 2001 autobiography I Am Iman.

     April 2002 saw the release of an excellent club remix by New York producer The Scumfrog, credited to "The Scumfrog vs Bowie". A minor UK hit (it did rather better in the dance chart, where it peaked at number 9), the remix was accompanied by a new video in which scenes from Bowie's original clip were projected onto the walls of animated skyscrapers in an ever-shifting urban jungle. The video appeared on the enhanced CD single, while the remix was later included on Club Bowie and The Scumfrog's 2003 album Extended Engagement. The extended mixes from 1985's original 12" single were released as downloads in 2007.

     "Loving The Alien" was performed throughout the Glass Spider tour. Sixteen years later, in a timely restatement of its central notion of "the possibility of harmony between Islam and Christian peoples", the song was revived in a beautiful new acoustic arrangement for the Tibet House Benefit concert on February 28th 2003. A variation of this stripped-back version, for which David was accompanied by Gerry Leonard on guitar, reappeared throughout A Reality Tour. Under his solo stage name Spooky Ghost, Gerry Leonard continued to perform the song live, and a cover version by Visage appears on 2015's Demons To Diamonds, released after the death of lead singer Steve Strange.


  • Bonus: Black Tie White Noise/Black Tie White Noise (2003)

Beginning life in 1988 as a demo called "Lucille Can't Dance" (see "Like A Rolling Stone"), this composition was salvaged with splendid results during the Black Tie White Noise sessions. It's one of the album's strongest numbers and might have done well as a single; Nile Rodgers told David Buckley that it was "a guaranteed number 1 record, and everyone around [Bowie] was totally perplexed when it only appeared as a bonus track on the CD. He was running from success and running from the word "dance"."

     Rodgers may be right; although a likely hit, "Lucy Can't Dance" may have invited accusations that Bowie was once again pandering to the mainstream. The heavily treated vocal is laid over a pulsing beat filched straight from the mid-1980s 'hi-energy' fad exemplified by Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax", and the sense of 1980s nostalgia is increased by a passing reference to Madonna's "Material Girl". It's good, catchy, sophisticated pop, and nobody but Bowie could get away with such a preposterous couplet as "So I spin while my lunatic lyric goes wrong / Guess I put all my eggs in a postmodern song". The melody bears similarities with 1992's "Real Cool World" and, particularly, 1997's "Dead Man Walking".




The title track of Iggy Pop's 1977 album has lyrics by Iggy and music by David who, as Pop later recalled, composed it on an unlikely instrument: "David Bowie wrote that in Berlin, in front of the TV, on a ukulele." David explained that the pair would often watch the American Forces Network news, "one of the few things that was in English on the telly, and it had this great pulsating riff at the beginning of the news." According to Iggy, the riff in question was "a guy tapping out that beat on a Morse code key. Ever the sharp mimic, David picked up the nearest available instrument and started strumming."

     With co-production, keyboards and backing vocals also provided by Bowie, "Lust For Life" is usually construed as a celebration of the pair's successful clean-up during their Berlin exile: "I'm through with sleeping on the sidewalk - no more beating my brains with the liquor and drugs". This doesn't quite tally with the reality of their recreational habits in 1977, but they'd certainly come a long way since the insanity of Los Angeles. The exuberant intro, borrowing freely not just from the AFN news but from the Motown grooves of two near-identical 1966 hits (The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love" and Martha And The Vandellas' "I'm Ready For Love"), enjoyed extensive airplay in 1996 thanks to the track's prominent use in Trainspotting. Following this media saturation "Lust For Life" was released as a single, reaching number 26 in November 1996. Nobody's fool, Bowie had already incorporated a splendid new arrangement into his live set for his Summer Festivals tour.

LUV (Hawkshaw/Cameron)

On January 22nd 1969, a few days before shooting commenced on Love You Till Tuesday and in the very same week that he wrote "Space Oddity", Bowie appeared in in a 30-second television commercial for a Lyons Maid ice lolly called Luv, directed by none other than Ridley Scott. The commercial featured David and several other young actors scampering up and down the stairs of a double-decker London bus, brandishing the lollies. David was also one of the ersatz band seen miming in a club to the accompanying jingle: "Luv! / Let me give it all to you / Let me know that someday you'll do the same for me / Luv, luv, luv!"

     David played no part in the recording of the "Luv" song, which was composed by Alan Hawkshaw and Ray Cameron and performed by their band Mint. It was released as a single on the Tangerine label in the same year, and became available many years later on the psychedelia compilation We Can Fly Volume 4 (Past & Present Records, PAPRCD 2054). Alan Hawkshaw, incidentally, had played keyboards for Bowie a few months earlier during his BBC session of May 13th 1968, and would go on to become a noted composer of television themes: his composition "Chicken Man" became the theme music of the BBC school drama Grange Hill, and his other credits include the theme for Channel 4 News, the jingle for the 1970s Cadbury's Milk Tray adverts, and the famous "30 seconds" music from Countdown. However, "Luv" was not among Hawkshaw's successes: the single attracted no more attention than the ice lolly product itself, which failed to catch on and was withdrawn from the market by the early summer of 1969.

     Kenneth Pitt reports that the commercial earned its young star 25 guineas plus residuals, and that David did his best to keep his costume as a souvenir, until a panicky telephone call from the production company put paid to that idea. The Luv advert would later be aired on various clip shows including the BBC's Before They Were Famous, and has since found its way online.

The Loneliest Guy
Look Back In Anger
Looking For A Friend
Looking For Lester
Looking For Satellites
Looking For Water
Louie, Louie Go Home
Love Aladdin Vein
Love Is Always
Love Is Lost
Love Is Strange
Love Missile F1-11
Love Song
Love You Till Tuesday
Lover To The Dawn
Loving The Alien
Lucy Can't Dance
Lump On The Hill
Lust For Life
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