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David Bowie is the eponymously-titled debut album by rock musician David Bowie, released in 1967 by Deram Records, a Decca offshoot. Its content bears little overt resemblance to the type of music that later made Bowie famous, such as the folk rock of "Space Oddity" or the glam of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. NME critics Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray have said, "a listener strictly accustomed to David Bowie in his assorted '70s guises would probably find this debut album either shocking or else simply quaint", while biographer David Buckley describes it as "the vinyl equivalent of the madwoman in the attic".


Bowie's influences at this stage of his career included the theatrical tunes of Anthony Newley, music hall numbers by acts like Tommy Steele, some of the more whimsical and 'Britishmarker' material by Ray Davies of The Kinks, Syd Barrett's slightly cracked nursery rhymes for the early Pink Floyd, and the Edwardian flam shared by such contemporary songs as The Beatles' "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite". The desire of Bowie's then-manager, Ken Pitt, for his charge to become an 'all-round entertainer' rather than a 'rock star' has also been cited as impacting the songwriter's style at this time, which virtually eschewed any rock 'n' roll trappings. Bowie himself has said that his debut album "seemed to have its roots all over the place, in rock and vaudeville and music hall. I didn't know if I was Max Miller or Elvis Presley".

Style and themes

Written wholly by Bowie, the album was arranged by the composer and Dek Fearnley, having reportedly taught themselves the craft using the Observer Book of Music. "Rubber Band" was a marching tune that employed tuba as the lead instrument. "Little Bombardier" and "Maid of Bond Street" were in waltz time, and also made extensive use of brass and strings. "Love You Till Tuesday" and "Come and Buy My Toys" were among the few songs on the album with a lead (acoustic) guitar, the former heavily augmented by strings. "Join the Gang" was a rare excursion into contemporary youth culture, an acerbic observation of peer pressure and drug use, which included sitar in its instrumentation. The final track, "Please Mr. Gravedigger", was "a macabre duet for voice and sound effects", and has been described as "one of pop's genuinely crazy moments".

Despite the album's incongruity in the Bowie catalogue, some commentators have discerned embryonic themes that inform the artist's more mature work. "We Are Hungry Men" is told by a self-styled "messiah" whose persona would reappear in different forms in the songs "Cygnet Committee" (from the album Space Oddity), "Saviour Machine" (from The Man Who Sold the World) and "Oh! You Pretty Things" (from Hunky Dory), as well as in the protagonist of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The track also explicitly referenced subjects like abortion, infanticide and cannibalism. "There is a Happy Land" was an early manifestation of Bowie's vision of children as a race apart from their elders, a theme revisited on The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust. "She's Got Medals" was a gender-bending tale with gay and lesbian connotations that predated the 'dress cover' of The Man Who Sold the World and the bisexual/androgynous character of Ziggy Stardust.


Prior to releasing the album, Deram issued two singles with the same personnel, "Rubber Band" b/w "London Boys", in December 1966, and "The Laughing Gnome" b/w "The Gospel According to Tony Day", in April 1967. "Rubber Band" was a different recording to the album track. "London Boys" has been lauded as Bowie's first mini-masterpiece, a melancholy observation of the London Mod scene of the time. "The Laughing Gnome" was a novelty record featuring chipmunk-like vocals but the varispeed technique used to create this effect would serve Bowie in more serious fashion on many future songs including "After All", "The Bewlay Brothers", "Fame" and "Scream Like a Baby". A re-recorded version of "Love You Till Tuesday" b/w "Did You Ever Have a Dream" was released as a single in July 1967.

Release and aftermath

David Bowie was released in the UKmarker, in both mono and stereo, on 1 June 1967, the same date as The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was issued in the USmarker in August 1967, minus "We Are Hungry Men" and "Maid of Bond Street". The album and its associated singles were all commercial failures at the time and Bowie did not release another record until "Space Oddity", two years later. The songs from the debut album and its singles, plus later Deram works, have been recycled in a multitude of compilation albums, including The World of David Bowie (1970), Images 1966–1967 (1973), Another Face (1981), Rock Reflections (1990), and The Deram Anthology 1966–1968 (1997). A number of the songs also appeared in Ken Pitt's promotional film Love You Till Tuesday, shot in 1969 but kept on the shelf until 1984, when it was released to video with a companion album on CD.

The album itself was reissued by Deram on CD in 1987. The booklet reprints the original press release by Kenneth Pitt and a new 1988 essay by John Tracy. In addition, the rear sleeve notes the different versions included. These are "Rubber Band" (Version 2), "When I Live My Dream" (Version 1) and "Please Mr. Gravedigger" (Version 2).

Track listing

All songs written by David Bowie.

Side one

  1. "Uncle Arthur" – 2:07
  2. "Sell Me a Coat" – 2:58
  3. "Rubber Band" – 2:17
  4. "Love You Till Tuesday" – 3:09
  5. "There Is a Happy Land" – 3:11
  6. "We Are Hungry Men" – 2:58
  7. "When I Live My Dream" – 3:22

Side two

  1. "Little Bombardier" – 3:24
  2. "Silly Boy Blue" – 4:36
  3. "Come and Buy My Toys" – 2:07
  4. "Join the Gang" – 2:17
  5. "She's Got Medals" – 2:23
  6. "Maid of Bond Street" – 1:43
  7. "Please Mr. Gravedigger" – 2:35



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