Space Oddity
(Virgin / EMI)


One of the most impressive feats of Virgin Records during the ‘90s was acquiring the back catalog of David Bowie, who is honored by the label in 2009 with a 40th anniversary double CD set edition of what, over the years, became known as the Space Oddity album. It was actually called Man Of Words Man Of Music when it was first released by Mercury Records late in 1969. All through the summer of ‘69, Bowie’s first big hit song “Space Oddity” made its debut over FM radio during way back when, just in time to coincide with America's landing on the moon. So astonishing was the reality of space travel in 1969 and songs about astronauts indeed. Even though it was getting airplay here in New York by Jimmy Fink (or was that Tony Pigg?) on WPLJ, trouble was, for many music fans, you couldn't find the single "Space Oddity" anywhere. As indicated in the voluminous, no turn left unstoned liner notes written by Kevin Cann for Virgin’s 40th anniversary edition, producer Tony Visconti didn’t even really like the “Space Oddity” song (now that's odd) and passed the producer’s baton for that song to the late great Gus Dudgeon, who by the very next year, 1970 would become world famous as Elton John’s trademark producer. Rick Wakeman simply killed with his signature mellotron sound that became synonymous with the otherworldly essence of the song’s lyrical concept. Featuring the original nine track Man Of Words Man Of Music album on disc one, the anniversary set’s second disc is where the fun starts for long time fans. Among many highlights of the second CD are some pretty amazing alternate versions, rare BBC stuff, the best yet stereo release of Bowie’s “Conversation Piece”, along with various appearances by future Bowie collaborators Mick Ronson and Ralph Mace on one or more of the three bonus versions of “Memory Of A Free Festival,” and all this in addition to the original album version featured on disc one. Virgin’s double deluxe CD Bowie remaster treatments will hopefully turn out to be a yearly event, chronicling sessions and rarities from the heyday of all his ‘70s albums originally released on Mercury and RCA Records. All in all, Virgin’s 2009 double CD remaster of Space Oddity (a/k/a Man Of Words Man Of Music) is a true work of sonic art. www.DavidBowie.com


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