David Bowie (commonly known as Space Oddity) is the second studio album by David Bowie. After the commercial failure of his 1967 self-titled debut album, Bowie acquired a new manager, Kenneth Pitt, who commissioned a promotional film in hopes of widening the artist’s audience. For the film, Bowie wrote a new song, titled Space Oddity, a tale about a fictional astronaut. The song earned Bowie a contract with Mercury Records, who agreed to finance production of a new album, with Pitt hiring Tony Visconti to produce. Due to his dislike of the song, Visconti appointed engineer Gus Dudgeon to produce a re-recording for release as a lead single, while he produced the rest of the album.
Recording for the new album began in June 1969 and continued until early October, at Trident Studios in London. It featured an array of collaborators, including Herbie Flowers, Rick Wakeman, Terry Cox and the band Junior’s Eyes. Departing from the music hall style of Bowie’s 1967 debut, David Bowie instead features folk rock and psychedelic rock songs. Lyrically, the songs contain themes that were influenced by events happening in Bowie’s life at the time, including former relationships and festivals he attended. Released as a single in July 1969, Space Oddity peaked at No. 5 in the UK later in the year, earning Bowie his first commercial hit.
David Bowie was released in the UK on 14 November 1969 by Mercury affiliate Philips Records. For the US release, Mercury retitled it Man of Words/Man of Music and used different artwork. Due to a lack of promotion, the album was a commercial failure, despite earning some positive reviews from music critics. Following Bowie’s commercial breakthrough with his fifth studio album Ziggy Stardust in 1972, RCA Records reissued the album under the title of Space Oddity, and used a contemporary photo of Bowie as the artwork. The reissue charted in both the UK and the US.
Retrospectively, David Bowie has received mixed reviews from critics and biographers, many criticising the lack of cohesiveness. Bowie himself later stated that the album lacked musical direction. Debate continues as to whether it should stand as Bowie’s first 'proper' album.
- Space Oddity
- Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed
- Letter to Hermione
- Cygnet Committees
- An Occasional Dream
- The Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud
- God Knows I'm Good
- Memory of a Free Festival