David Bowie – Secrets Of My Lost Years 1969-1973 (Scorpio BOW 6973)


 Secrets Of My Lost Years 1969-1973 (Scorpio BOW 6973)
outer slip cover


Secrets Of My Lost Years 1969-1973 (Scorpio BOW 6973)
front cover

Secrets Of My Lost Years 1969-1973 is a comprehensive, three disc set by Scorpio collecting together demos and rarities from David Bowie’s formative years.  Much like other Scorpio sets there is nothing here that is brand new, but it does gather hard to find tracks and presents them in chronological order.  Like any collection such as this, the sound quality varies between the various sources employed by Scorpio, but all of it is very listenable and in the best available sound quality.  Bowie is noted for his chameleon like persona, trying one one identity and transforming it into something else.  This ethic has always been at odds with the music industry, where sincerity is valued.  Bowie ideas come straight from the theater and drama which, by nature, suggest the ability to change roles to suite the narrative.  Bowie is a legend because he is one of the first artists to successfully integrate theater with rock.

DISC 1:  Space Oddity, A Letter To Hermione, Janine, An Occasional Dream, Conversation Piece, Ching A Ling Song (Recorded Spring 1969.  Venue Unknown, possibly Three Tunes Pub, High Street, Beckenham, Kent Or Possibly Clairville Rd. Chealsea), Lover To The Dawn (probably recorded Spring 1969. Information As For Tracks 1-6), Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed (recorded October 20 1969 BBC Radio Aeolian Hall Studio 2 Broadcast October 26 1969 On Dave Lee Travis Show), The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud (recorded June 20 1969 Trident Studio, London Original B-Side Of UK Space Oddity 45), Cloumbine, The Mirror, Threepenny Pierrot (demo recorded For The Looking Grass Murders TV Show, aka Pierrot In Turquoise. Probably Recorded Early 1970), The Prettiest Star (recorded January 1970, Trident Studio, Original Mercury 45 Version), Conversation Piece (recorded Jan/July 1969, Trident Studio), Lightning Frightening, London Bye Ta Ta (recorded January 1970, Trident Studio), Waiting For The Man, The Width Of A Circle, The Superman (recorded March 1970, BBC Playhouse Theatre Studios. Broadcast April 6 1970 BBC Sound Of Seventies), Memory Of A Free Festival Part 1, Memory Of A Free Festival Part 2 (recorded Advision Studio, London April 3,14-15,1970 Recorded On Mercury 45 June 1970), A Song For Marc (Recorded Haddon Hall, Beckenham, Kent May 1970) 

The first disc picks up in the beginning of 1969.  This is after his first album flopped and he was looking for a new record label.  This is also after his girlfriend Hermoine left and his trio Feathers was reduced to a duo.  When this first surfaced it was thought to be a live performance attributed to Sussex University on February 11th because there are song introductions that mimic a live performance.  However there are no audience noises and apologizes for the piano noises coming from “Mrs. Fahrenheit upstairs.”  The best guess is this comes from the last two weeks of April, 1969.  Other releases of this interesting tape include The Beckenham Oddity (Leisure Records 005 A/B) in 1987, Letter To Hermoine (Flashback World Productions FLASH 08.89.0105 – 33 A/B) in 1990.  On CD it can be found on A Letter To Hermoine (Flashback World Productions FLASH 08.89.0105 – 33 A/B) in 1989 which has the LP plus outtakes from Little Toy Soldier, The Beckenham Oddity (MDCD 010), Ching-A-Ling Song (Sphinx Records SXCD 009), both in 1990.  Recorded Live At Sussex University, 11.2.1969 (DV More Records M.T.T. 10.11) in 1992, The Duke (Never End SCT*7) in 1993, Sussex University Live 1969 (Black Panther ABP-032) in 1994, and A Semi-Acoustic Love Affair on Gold Standard in 1996. 

Bowie had the idea of recasting Feathers into a Simon And Garfunkel folk duo with himself and John Hutchinson.  The demo for “Space Oddity” was released officially on Sound + Vision.  Some are interesting demos for songs that would be finished for the Space Oddity LP including “Janine” with a “Hey Jude” chorus in the middle.  “A little rough” Bowie says afterwards.  “Ching-A-Ling” is a leftover from the old repertoire which, he explains, is now a duet because Hermoine left.  “Lover To The Dawn” is the seed for the nine-minute epic “Cygnet Committee” on Space Oddity and the sound quality is a bit below the other material.

“Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed” from the October 20th, 1969 “The David Lee Travis Show” on the BBC.  “Let Me Sleep Beside You” and “Janine” where also recorded but was not broadcast.  Many other releases include the entire session including White Light, White Heat (The Swingin’ Pig TSP 053 A/B) on LP in 1990.  On CD on The London Tapes (World Productions WPOCM 0589D020-2), At The Beeb (Archive Productions AP 69004) in 1989.  White Light, White Heat (The Swingin’ Pig Records TSP CD-053), Ultra Rare Trax Vol. 1 (The Genuine Pig Records TGP-CD-108), Stardust Memories (Retropop 159081), Outta Space (World Productions Of Compact Music WPOCM 00490D049-2), and Mega Rare Trax Vol. 1 (Seagull Records CD022) in 1990.  The Best Of David Bowie (Dixie Live DLCD 4057) and Kooks (Turtle Records TR-36) in 1992.  The following year The Jean Genie Vol. 1 (Banana BAN-004-A), Rebel Rebel (Oil Well RSC 02), and Live Vol. 1 (Joker JOK-001-A) were issued.  1994 saw the release of Dynamic Live (Apple House Music DL-04), A Crash Course For The Ravers (Gold Standard) and Stay (Pipeline PPL 513).  God Knows I’m Good (The BBC Sessions 1967-1978) (BEEB 1/2) was released in 1997, Kiss The Vipers Fang (EDB 002) in 1999 and Unwashed (Perfect Beat PB-002) in 2001. 

“The Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud” comes from an hour long session for “The Sunday Show” for the BBC.  This was recorded at Paris Cinema Studio on February 5th and broadcast on February 8th.  It was also hosted by John Peel before a live audience.  Most of this is available on Bowie At The Beeb and this is the debut of the short-lived band Hype with Tony Visconti on bass and John Cambridge on drums.  This is followed by three short songs Bowie wrote and sang for the 1970 television show The Looking Glass Murders.  Each is no more than a minute and a half in length and focus upon a character from Italian commedia dell’arte.  “Threepenny Pierrot” has the same melody on piano that would be used later for “London Ta Ta.”     

“Lightening Frightening” and “London Ta Ta” date from Trident Studios in 1970.  The latter is a reworking of “Three Penny Peirrot” but with electric instruments instead of piano.  This is followed by the March 25th, 1970 BBC session recorded at the Playhouse Theater for “Sounds Of The 70s:  Andy Ferris.”  The Velvet Underground cover “Waiting For The Man,” “Width Of A Circle” and “The Supermen” were all broadcast but a fourth song, “Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud” was not.  This is the first appearance of Bowie’s new band Hype with Mick Ronson on guitar, Tony Visconti on bass and Space Oddity drummer John Cambridge.  “I deliberately chose the name in favour of something that sounded perhaps heavy because now no one can say they’re being conned. Especially nowadays there’s a lot of narrow mindedness among groups or at least behind the organisers who claim to be presenting free music for free people but I don’t see how they can because they’re so hypocritical in everything else. I suppose you could say I chose Hype deliberately with tongue in cheek.”  Cambridge’s drummer, especially on “The Supermen,” is pretty bad and he was soon replaced by Ronson’s friend Woody Woodmansey.

DISC 2 :  Holy Holy (Recorded June 1970, Trident Studios. Recorded From Acetate. Released On Mercury 45 January 1971), Tired Of My Life (Recorded May 1970, Haddon Hall, Beckenham, Kent), How Lucky You Are (Recorded May 1971), Rupert The Riley (Recorded April 23 1971 Trident Studios), Right On Mother (Demo Probably Recorded Early 1971), Man In The Middle (Recorded June 17 1971,Trident Studio, Released On B+C Records), Bombers (Recorded June 1971, Hunky Dory Outtake), The Superman, Queen Bitch (Recorded June 3 1971 BBC Paris Cinema Studio), Oh! You Pretty Things, Kooks, Fill Your Heart, Amsterdam, Andy Warhol (Recorded BBC Kensington House Studio September 21 1971), The Superman (Recorded June 1971 Trident Studio, London, First Released On Glastonbury Fayre 1972), Quicksand (Hunky Dory Demo), Eight Line Poem (Alternate Version From BOWPROMO IA-I White Label LP), Amsterdam, Bombers, Kooks, Changes (Hunky Dory Demos), Shadowman, Looking For A Friend (Recorded September 1971 Trident Studio, London), My Death (Recorded October 1,1972 Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts)   

The second disc opens with the acetate of the original single of “Holy Holy” recorded in January 1971.  The next four tracks are unreleased demos written during this time.  “Tired Of My Life” is a piano demo recorded in May 1971.  The words are introspective (“I don’t know why / but I’m tired of my life”) and serves as the germ for “It’s No Game” on Scary Monsters released a decade later.  “How Lucky You Are” dates to April 1971 and is a strange piece of male chauvinism.  Another demo from the Hunky Dorysessions, also exists with Rick Wakeman on the piano.  The infamous “Rupert The Riley” also exists in two versions.  One has Bowie on lead vocals and the other, and is the version Scorpio uses, features the late Mickey King on vocals and is an interesting song about Bowie’s automobile.  

“Right On Mother” is a rough demo dating from early 1971 which Bowie gave to Peter Noone to record.  “Man In The Middle” is a rare single recorded by a band called Arnold Corns.  This was basically a side band comprised of the Hunky Doryband (Mick Ronson, Tony Visconti, Woody Woodmansey, and Rick Wakeman) with Freddie Burretti on vocals.  Burretti was well known in the London gay scene and was a friend with “Rupert The Riley” vocalist Mickey King.  This song was released on B+C records in the summer of 1971.  “Bombers” is a Hunky Dory outtake that was issued as a bonus track on that album’s reissue.  With its description of meaningless war Bowie describes this as “a kind of skit on Neil Young.”  

“The Supermen” and “Queen Bitch” were recorded for “In Concert:  John Peel” at the BBC Paris Cinema on June 3rd, 1971 and broadcast on June 20th.  This is Bowie’s second live appearance on the BBC and the set included many guest appearances by his friends throughout the hour.  Scorpio chose only two songs to represent the session in this collection.  This is followed by another session for BBC radio.  This one was recorded at the Kensington House Studio on September 21st, 1971 for “Sounds Of The 70’s” with Bob Harris.  Scorpio omit “The Supermen” and “Eight Line Poem” but present the rest including the tracks that were not broadcast “Fill Your Heart,” “Amsterdam,” and “Andy Warhol.”  This is a simple arrangement with only Bowie and Ronson on guitar and is the only session he did with the BBC in the 60s and 70s recorded in stereo.  

This is followed by a reworked version of “The Supermen” from the summer of 1971.  This new arrangement, played acoustic in the verses but a bursting electric in the chorus, was donated to the Glastonbury Fayre 1972 LP compilation.  “Quicksand” is an acoustic demo recorded that spring.  “Eight Line Poem” is an alternate version with a different vocal performance found on a a rare Hunky Dorypromo (BOWIE PROMO 1A-1).   “Amsterdam,” “Bombers,” “Kooks,” and “Changes” are all amateur demos recorded in the spring of 1971 in preparation for the Hunky Dory sessions.  The contains Bowie sitting at at the piano and singing the lyrics except for “Amsterdam,” which features Bowie playing acoustic guitar working out the Jaquel Brel song.  “Shadow Man” was recorded on September 14th, 1971 at Trident studios and is one of the more impressive outtakes from the beginning of the Ziggy Stardust era.  “Looking For A Friend” was recorded at the same time and is a song left over from the Arnold Corns experiement.  The disc ends with a live performance of “My Death,” another Jaques Brel tune, from the Boston Music Hall on October 1st, 1972.

DISC 3:  Ziggy Stardust (Acoustic Demo Version, Recorded Trident Studio, London September 1971), Holy Holy (Recorded Trident Studio, London September 1971 Released As RCA 45 B-Side June 1974), Around And Around (Recorded Trident Studio, London September 1971 Released As RCA 45 B-Side April 1973), Velvet Goldmine (Recorded Trident Studio, London September 1971 Released As RCA 45 B-Side September 1975), Sweet Head (Recorded Trident Studio, London November 1971), Ziggy Stardust, Queen Bitch, Waiting For The Man, Lady Stardust (Recorded January 11,1972 Kensington House Studio, London), All The Young Dudes (Original Demo Version, Recorded 1972 Remixed With Mott The Hoople Backing Track), Oh! You Pretty Things, Queen Bitch, Five Years (Recorded February 8 1972 BBC Old Grey Trident Studio, London September 1971 Released As RCA 45 B-Side June 1974), I Feel Free (Recorded May 6 Kensington Polytechnic), White Light White Heat (Recorded May 23 1972 BBC Maida Vale Studio 4, London), Starman (Recorded May 22 BBC Aeolian Hall Studio 2, London), Drive In Saturday (Recorded January 17 1973 Broadcast BBC TV Russell Harty Plus Show), Jean Genie/Love Me Do (Recorded July 3 1973 Hammersmith Odeon, London), Sorrow, Time (Recorded October 18-20 1973, Marquee London)

The third disc focuses primarily upon the Ziggy Stardust era.  The first track is an acoustic demo of “Ziggy Stardust” from 1971 in excellent quality.  This can also be found as a bonus track on the 1990 and 2002 Ziggy Stardustreissues.  “Around And Around” is a cover of the Chuck Berry tune that was supposed to be on the Ziggy Stardust LP but was removed for “Starman” and later used as the B-side to  “Drive In Saturday” in 1973.  “Velvet Goldmine” is another Ziggy Stardust outtake that was removed from the final sequence of the LP and was later used as a B-side for the 1975 reissue of the “Space Oddity” single.  “Sweet Head” also comes out of the sessions of the classic album and is a polished outtake.  It was included on the Rykodisc’s Ziggy Stardust reissue and caught everyone by surprise since nobody knew if its existence.  It is a fun sounding track with obscene lyrics that might have contributed to its obscurity. 

These outtakes are followed by the first BBC radio broadcast of the new material.  The next four songs come from the January 11th, 1972 “Sounds Of The Seventies” with John Peel recorded at Kensington House.  “Hang On To Yourself” was also played but not included in this collection, and “Lady Stardust” was not broadcast.  The sound quality is good to very good mono.  

“All The Young Dudes” is the 1972 demo which Bowie gave to Mott The Hoople resulting in their greatest hit.  This is followed by the February 8th, 1972 appearance on the “Old Grey Whistle Test” with “Oh!  You Pretty Things,” “Queen Bitch” (making its third appearance in this collection), and “Fire Years.”  “I Feel Free” was recorded on May 6th, 1972 at Kingston Polytech early in the Ziggy Stardust tour.  This Cream cover was later dropped but the guitar solo employed was utilized and expanded in the “Width Of A Circle” improvisations later on in the tour.  This come from a fair to good but clear audience recording.  This is followed by the Velvet Underground cover “White Light/ White Heat” from the May 23rd, 1972 BBC session recorded at Maida Vale Studio 4 for Bob Harris.  The rest of the session was officially released on Bowie At The Beeb.

“Starman” was recorded the previous day at Aeolian Hall Studio 2 before a live audience for “The Johnnie Walker Lunchtime Show.”  This recording comes from a rebroadcast the following year judging by the DJ’s comments in the song’s run-off.  The band play over a backing tape of the string arrangement.  “Drive In Saturday” comes from his television appearance on the Russel Harty Plus Show on January 17th, 1973.  The “Jean Genie/Love Me Do” is the encore from the July 3rd, 1973 Hammersmith Odeon show in London.  For the final Ziggy show (“this is the last show we’ll ever do”), Jeff Beck comes out and jams with the band in this ten minute medley.  This was initially included in the film but Beck demanded it be edited out making it a rarity.  During the long improvisation Beck gets into a bit of The Yardbirds’ “Over Under Sideways Down.” 

“Sorrow” was a hit for The Merseys in 1966 and Bowie’s cover appears on his collection of covers Pin Ups and “Time” from Aladdin Sane.  These two tracks come from The 1980 Floor Show at the Marquee in London in October, 1973.  Much like Scorpio’s Dylan sets, this collects rarities from all sources and produces a fairly comprehensive collection.  Again there are many more David Bowie rarities from 1969 to 1973, but this is a good summary.  It is packaged in a fatboy jewel case with nice picture discs and a slip cover.  There is also a thick booklet with the complete Raymond Telford story and a “Face To Face With David Bowie…The Secret Of My Lost Year…” giving a title to this collection.  There are interesting period photos including one of Bowie dressed as the Sphinx, a photo that was proposed for the cover on Hunky Dory.          

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  1. Nice set if you’re either a new collector or just have money to burn. A fair amount of this material is pirated from official releases which is kind of antithetical to the Bootlegger’s Creed. Scorpio in the past has edited otherwise available in full songs to make a show fit on one disc, added blantantly unrelated songs such as adding a BBC track to their release of the Cleveland 1972 show originally released as Va Va Va Voom on a different label and are now rehashing numerous 1969 Led Zeppelin shows that have been released many times before in same or better quality. Guess one needs to follow the dollars here again…


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