Good news, "Starman" fans: A vinyl box set of never-before-released David Bowie songs, including two of the earliest known recordings of "Space Oddity," will be arriving this spring. According to the NME, the Spying Through A Keyhole box set from Parlophone Records will include nine rare tracks on 7-inch records. The exact release date is yet to be determined.
The title of the box set references a lyric from "Love All Around," one of the songs included. Parlophone’s announcement comes on what would have been Bowie’s 72nd birthday. The "Heroes" and "Life on Mars" singer died on January 10, 2016 after a short battle with cancer. He learned his cancer was terminal just three months before his death, while filming the "Lazarus" music video for what would ultimately become his final album, Blackstar.
According to Parlophone, 2019 is especially timely because it marks 50 years since Bowie released his first hit, "Space Oddity." The box set will include two demo versions of "Space Oddity," one of which is believed to be the first-ever recording of the song. Check out the full track list and song descriptions from Parlophone below.
"Mother Grey" (demo) This mid-tempo tale of a fledgling son fleeing the nest features multi-tracked vocals, guitars and harmonica from David. "In The Heat Of The Morning" (demo) A well-known early Bowie song but presented here in demo form with final lyrics. "Goodbye 3d (Threepenny) Joe" (demo) A charming demo from 1968. "Love All Around" (demo) A delightful love song from whence the title of this collection came: “I see a pop tune spying through a keyhole from the other room." "London Bye, Ta-Ta" (demo) An early demo version of the song with completely different lyrics in a couple of the verses compared to those of the later full band versions. "Angel, Angel, Grubby Face" (demo version 1) The first and only previously known demo of this song. "Angel, Angel, Grubby Face" (demo version 2) A later version of the same song with alternative lyrics. "Space Oddity" (demo excerpt) The lyric and arrangement variations lend weight to the theory that this is possibly the first ever recorded demo of one of Bowie’s most famous songs. "Space Oddity (demo—alternative lyrics) (with Hutch) Originally conceived as a song for a duo to perform, this is the first known version to feature John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson again with lyric and arrangement variations.
Because many of the songs are home demos, customers shouldn’t expect studio quality audio. “This is partly due to David’s enthusiastic strumming hitting the red on a couple of the tracks, along with the limitations of the original recording equipment and tape degradation,” Parlophone writes on its site. “However, the historical importance of these songs and the fact that the selections are from an archive of tracks cleared for release by Bowie overrides this shortcoming.”
Although the tracks will only be sold on vinyl, Parlophone says they may eventually become available in other formats.