David Bowie / Spying Through A Keyhole – 7″ box set of unreleased material

Official 7″ vinyl box of nine previously unreleased recordings

Parlophone are to release in the spring Spying Through A Keyhole (Demos and Unreleased Songs), a seven-inch vinyl box set that features previously unreleased David Bowie recordings, including the earliest known version of ‘Space Oddity’.

2019 marks 50 years since the ‘Space Oddity’ single and these unreleased recordings are all from the era during which that song was first conceived. The title ‘Spying Through The Keyhole’ is taken from a previously unknown song called ‘Love Is All Around’ and while the other songs will be familiar to fans (‘London Bye, Ta-Ta,’ ‘In The Heat Of The Morning’ etc.) these versions have never been officially released (although apparently Parlophone did make them available on streaming services for a limited period only in December last year – something that passed me by!).

Most of the recordings are solo vocal and acoustic home demo performances and the label warn that “due to the nature of some of the solo home demos where Bowie accompanied himself on acoustic guitar, the recording quality isn’t always of a usual studio fidelity.This is partly due to David’s enthusiastic strumming hitting the red on a couple of the tracks, along with the limitations of the original recording equipment and tape degradation.”

It’s not clear at this stage how many seven-inch singles will be in this vinyl box, but while it will be limited to vinyl for now (I don’t know if there will be a download code) Parlophone say “the recordings may appear in the future on other formats.”

This focus on 1969, the 50th anniversary of ‘Space Oddity’ could mark a shift in Parlophone’s strategy for Bowie releases this year, having issued the four box sets that took us from 1969 to 1988 in the last four year. We shall see…

Further details on Spying Through The Keyhole, an actual release date and pre-order links to follow when we have them.

Spying Through The Keyhole (Demos and Unreleased Songs)

Mother Grey (demo)

This mid-tempo tale of a fledgling son fleeing the nest features multi-tracked vocals, guitars and harmonica from David.

In The Heat Of The Morning (demo)

A well-known early Bowie song but presented here in demo form with final lyrics.

Goodbye 3d (Threepenny) Joe (demo)

A charming demo from 1968.

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”.

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.

Angel, Angel, Grubby Face (demo version 1)

The first and only previously known demo of this song.

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 is possibly the first ever recorded demo of one of Bowie’s most famous songs.

Space Oddity (demo – alternative lyrics) (with Hutch)

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.

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