People On Streets (Demos and Rarities) (Golden Eggs EGG-136)
(78:16) I Do Believe I Love You, After Today, Can You Hear Me, Under Pressure, Let’s Dance, Let’s Dance, Wild Things, Al Alba, Cosmic Dancer, A Small Plot Of Land, Teenage Wildlife, Little Wonder, Repetition 97, Trying To Get To Heaven, Mother, Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime), Lazarus, I Can’t Give Everything Away
This new title from Golden Eggs is a collection of rare and obscure Bowie tracks from various years starting in 1974, save the first track. The quality is overall excellent and while a collection that spans 40 plus years would feature a variety of different Bowie personalities, the flow of this CD is really nice and hits the mark for close and casual listens.
I Do Believe I Love You is from a 1965 Emidisc acetate, it features two run-throughs, both are incomplete. The song is merely a curious mid 60’s single.
After Today and Can You Hear Me are both studio outtakes. After Today is credited as take 1, one can assume from Sigma Sound in Philadelphia. Although the song would be released on Sound + Vision, this outtake is even better, loose and a bit faster paced, the band is really feeling it and the song has a wonderful groove. The band is so jazzed afterwards they implore Bowie to play it again right away. Can You Hear Me is credited as take 2, it features Luther Vandross and Robin Clark on backing vocals. Bowie’s vocals are in a lower register than the version found on Young Americans, he has not developed a falsetto style.
Under Pressure is an early attempt at Under Pressure, Bowie of course with Queen at Mountain Side Studios in Switzerland in 1981. The song had the early working title of People On Streets, taken from the lyrics. The song framework is all here, it is a stripped down version as Freddie and David are still developing their vocal interplay and while it does not share the intensity of the famous version, it’s an interesting take, Freddie can certainly hit the falsetto without issue.
There are two versions of Let’s Dance. The first is an actual demo version of the song featuring an intro by David “We can only go wrong…mind you it’s a 100 franc fine every time we go wrong…but thank ok up front huh…this is James Brown band”. Stripped down, tempo different, hand claps but with a great fat bass line. The second version is a long version referred to as Nile Rodger’s long string version, it does have some really nice string instrumentation added that take the place of the guitars. Nile had this to say: “My work with David Bowie and specifically “Let’s Dance” is sacrosanct to me so when I was asked to add orchestration to the original recording I approached it with extreme trepidation. In fact my only concern was to protect David’s artistic vision and integrity. In the end I’m very grateful that we did this, as I believe anyone who loves the original will be excited by it. I’m certain David would approve from above”. Both of these versions were officially available for download in late 2018 so as one can assume, quality is excellent.
Wild Things is the song Chilly Down, written and recorded for the movie Labyrinth, which Bowie also starred in. This is one of the songs Bowie did not sing for the soundtrack, this was released by Danny John Jules after Bowie’s death in 2016. The song has a wonderful almost child like sound to it and certainly fits into the Jim Hensen universe.
Al Alba is a Spanish demo version of Day In Day Out and was recorded in 1987 and focused on the audiences in Spain where Bowie would be playing his first concerts as part of the Glass Spider tour the same year. This was also available as a download way back in 2007. The sound, while excellent, is just a bit flat in comparison to the majority of this set.
Cosmic Dancer comes from a Bowie appearance at a Morrissey concert on February 6, 1991 at the LA Forum. This was certainly done by someone in Morrissey’s camp to commemorate the occasion. Morrissey starts the Marc Bolan T-Rex classic as David slowly walks onstage to a deafening ovation. Beautiful version.
A Small Plot Of Land and Teenage Wildlife are from the tour rehearsals for the Outside 1994 tour that took place at Elstree Studios. These recordings surfaced in mid 2016 and circulated via soundcloud. The quality is excellent.
Little Wonder was a single from the 1997 Outside record. There were many remixes of the song, dance mix, junior mix, etc, released. This version comes from a Danny Saber remix featuring an acoustic beginning and is an interesting contrast to the version found on Earthling.
Repetition 97 is an acoustic version of the Lodger song taken from tour rehearsals done in Hartford, Connecticut. This version is very similar to what was officially released on the ChangesNowBowie Record Store Day release in mid 2020. The 97 version has a live feel to it and a more intimate feel to it.
Trying To Get To Heaven is a cover version of the Bob Dylan song recorded during the sessions for Earthling in 1998. The liner notes of this title say it’s taken from a Virgin in-house sampler titled Fun. Bowie does not do a straight take in the lyrics, rather does his own edit. Bowie has stated many times his respect for Dylan, nice to have this version in this collection.
Bowie recorded his version of a John Lennon tribute record to be released in 2000 but was shelved. He recorded the song with Reeves Gabrels on guitar, an unknown session organ player and Andy Newmark (the latter’s first appearance on a Bowie record since Young Americans) on drums, then took the tape to New York to have Visconti craft it into releasable shape during the “Safe In This Sky Life” sessions. He and Visconti decided to keep his original vocal from the demo, despite it having some bleed-through from Newmark’s drums (Bowie did a few punch-ins, which required Visconti to track down the same microphone that Bowie had used in the Bahamas). They added Jordan Rudess’ piano (which quotes from Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels” in the second verse) and Visconti’s bass and harmony vocals (along with Richard Barone). Nuff Said.
Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime), Lazarus, and I Can’t Give Everything Away are all radio edits released for the albums Nothing Has Changed and his final studio record, Blackstar in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) is perhaps the most interesting of the three, it features Bowie with a large Jazz band and reminds me, musically, of some of Stan Kenton’s big band phase with an almost electronic dance drum beat. Lazarus is just hauntingly beautiful, I Can’t Give Everything Away is a fitting way to close this collection, David did give us everything he could, and more.
The packaging is fitting, the front cover picture of Bowie holding the body of “Pierrot” from the Ashes To Ashes video, shot against a black background, incredibly striking. The rest of the pictures are Bowie through the years that the material from this set was recorded, the sleeve folds open to reveal the liner notes for this set. Sometimes a collection of demos and rarities can have a disjointed feel, this set however, is a wonderful collection that flows from one song to the next. A wonderful collection!