As part of the ongoing celebrations marking 50 years since David Bowie's first hit, "Space Oddity," and following the recent Spying Through A Keyhole and Clareville Grove Demos collections, Parlophone presents a further set of recordings known as The Mercury Demos. It's comprised of ten early Bowie recordings captured live in one take to a Revox reel to reel tape machine in Bowie's flat in spring 1969, with accompaniment from John "Hutch" Hutchinson on guitar and vocals.
The version of "Space Oddity" from The Mercury Demos, originally released with edits on the Sound & Vision boxed set, is presented here in its true context for the first time. The other nine recordings on the album are all previously unreleased. In addition to the Bowie originals, the session also includes the Roger Bunn composition "Life Is A Circus" (which features in an earlier demo version on the Clareville Grove Demos set) and the Lesley Duncan composition "Love Song," later recorded by Elton John for his Tumbleweed Connection album. Bowie's own "Conversation Piece" is announced as a new song and "Janine" features a short, 19-second section sung to the melody of The Beatles' "Hey Jude."
The session was a basic recording of the "Bowie & Hutch" duo's set list at the time and was committed to tape at the request of Mercury Records A&R man, Calvin Mark Lee, who wanted the tracks to send them to his boss Bob Reno. Both Lee and Reno are referenced during the 41-minute recording, and the demos were key in securing Bowie his recording deal with Mercury Records. The Mercury Demos set comes in a replica of the original tape box and will feature one LP, a print, two photo contact sheets, and sleeve notes by Mark Adams. The labels of the LP feature the same EMIDISC acetate styling as Spying Through A Keyhole and Clareville Grove Demos with the song titles in Bowie's own handwriting.