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"Oh! You Pretty Things" is a song written by David Bowie in 1971 for the album Hunky Dory. It opens with only Rick Wakeman's piano and Bowie's vocal, before entering the catchy refrain. The simple piano style is often compared to Paul McCartney's "Martha My Dear". Thematically, the song has been seen as reflecting the influence of occultist Aleister Crowley and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and heralding "the impending obsolescence of the human race in favour of an alliance between arriving aliens and the youth of the present society".

The song was first released by Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits, in a single on which Bowie played piano. It became a #12 hit in mid-1971. Noone replaced Bowie's line "The Earth is a bitch" with "The Earth is a beast", in a performance that NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray called "one of rock and roll's most outstanding examples of a singer failing to achieve any degree of empathy whatsoever with the mood and content of a lyric".

Live versions



Other releases

  • It appeared on the compilations:
  • It was also recorded for a whistle test on the BBC, but released over 10 years later. An outtake, in which Bowie stumbles over the lines and gets them wrong on several occasions, is hidden on the Best of Bowie DVD.


Cover versions



Notes


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