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David Bowie / Spying Through A Keyhole – 7″ box set of unreleased material

Official 7″ vinyl box of nine previously unreleased recordings

Parlophone are to release in the spring Spying Through A Keyhole (Demos and Unreleased Songs), a seven-inch vinyl box set that features previously unreleased David Bowie recordings, including the earliest known version of ‘Space Oddity’.

2019 marks 50 years since the ‘Space Oddity’ single and these unreleased recordings are all from the era during which that song was first conceived. The title ‘Spying Through The Keyhole’ is taken from a previously unknown song called ‘Love Is All Around’ and while the other songs will be familiar to fans (‘London Bye, Ta-Ta,’ ‘In The Heat Of The Morning’ etc.) these versions have never been officially released (although apparently Parlophone did make them available on streaming services for a limited period only in December last year – something that passed me by!).

Most of the recordings are solo vocal and acoustic home demo performances and the label warn that “due to the nature of some of the solo home demos where Bowie accompanied himself on acoustic guitar, the recording quality isn’t always of a usual studio fidelity.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.”

It’s not clear at this stage how many seven-inch singles will be in this vinyl box, but while it will be limited to vinyl for now (I don’t know if there will be a download code) Parlophone say “the recordings may appear in the future on other formats.”

This focus on 1969, the 50th anniversary of ‘Space Oddity’ could mark a shift in Parlophone’s strategy for Bowie releases this year, having issued the four box sets that took us from 1969 to 1988 in the last four year. We shall see…

Further details on Spying Through The Keyhole, an actual release date and pre-order links to follow when we have them.

Spying Through The Keyhole (Demos and Unreleased Songs)

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.

68 responses to David Bowie / Spying Through A Keyhole – 7″ box set of unreleased material

  1. Pingback:David Bowie / Conversation Piece box | superdeluxeedition

  2. It is interesting and perplexing to read such
    negativity along with the rest, but, to each their own.

    I am pleased to own Wax Cylinders, 78rpm discs; basically any media that has recorded music or History. All the way to the latest High End digital recordings.
    It is true that playing a 78rpm disc on the machine of the same era is time consuming, but the very act of choosing a disc, giving it a proper clean, changing the TungStyl needle, then winding up the gramophone, setting or adjusting the speed, and adding the Reproducer not only plays the recording, say from 1917, but gives a little look into that year of 1917 as well.
    When I heard David Bowie for the very first time, it was from a Dutch 7″ single of a very good quality pressing.
    I enjoy the music as it was originally recorded, and I still find quality vinyl pressings to best recreate whatever it is I am listening to. Other forms, like SACDs have improved over the horrible CDs that music enthusiasts were told would sound “better than vinyl”. 40 years later, they are much better.
    Personally, I enjoy the History of these things as much as the music. Here are examples of
    “demo” recordings, as they would have been and as so many 7″ test pressings and demo discs I’ve spent many years acquiring and enjoying. I cannot understand the idea that a single is “too much trouble” when I have been buying and listening to them a long time.
    It is an easy argument to point out the vastly
    commercial side of this industry, but if you don’t want them, no one is making you buy these!
    You will buy them because you want to, and because to see a version of a song you like or find somehow interesting, evolve, is part of the fun of it all.
    I hope people will enjoy this for what they are; early glimpses into songs from Bowie when he was young, and trying whatever he could to create something he liked and at the same time, hoped we would like enough to get a copy, maybe 3.
    Bowie is gone, but not his music; and surely the various companies involved will do their best to find whatever they can that we might like.
    I fail to see anything so terrible about that.

  3. Adey says:

    If there are any fans of “early” Bowie reading this, i would recommend them, instead, to buy a cheap(ish) official dvd copy of “love you till tuesday” . You wont be disappointed, the quality and content is amazing, and its much more fun/ entertaining than listening to average sounding demos on a rainy afternoon!

  4. Adey says:

    Sorry folks, I would buy it if it was released on cd, but not paying a premium for this vinyl “gimmick”.
    I fell for that trick on rsd a while back, buying the overpriced rip-off/ poor quality bowpromo release.

  5. Andy b in the place 2 b says:

    Will look forward to the release of Bowie farts the theme to Jaws then. As it seems any old tat is scraped from the bottom of the archive bin. Big Bowie fan but give this a miss unless the Jaws outtake is included.

  6. Antonio J says:

    Cool!!! But there are so many unreleased songs from this era, that nine are not enough. And the format does not make me happy.

  7. Disney Mike says:

    I’d certainly buy this if it were a CD release. I might buy it if it were a 12″ LP. I’m not buying a set of 7″ singles. I know I’d never listen to them. I HATE releases in which you have to flip or change the record after every song in order to hear the whole thing. (I similarly hate CD releases of sets of singles in which you only have two songs per CD.)

    This material simply isn’t interesting enough for me to invest money in a format I’ll never play. If it were one 7″ single, that would be OK, but not a collection of a bunch of them.

    • Mic Smith says:

      I tried posting about this the other day but for some reason it didn’t appear.

      Why would it be ok if it was a single 7” single, but a collection of the same format isn’t? You’d only get a maximum of 4 tracks on 7” single so you’d be getting less than half the material and you’d still need to flip it over to play it, which in the grand of scheme of things is no big deal. That’s how I and millions of music fans first heard and played music. Is that really a problem?

      I will most likely get this to hear the material – I’ll digitise it as I have with many vinyl items over the years and make a compilation from the discs. No hardship really.

      • Gorecki says:

        “That’s how I and millions of music fans first heard and played music. Is that really a problem?”

        What a peculiar (and ever so slightly smug) argument! Just because something was so 50 years ago – half a century! – doesn’t mean that’s how it should remain today. My (now late) Grandparents could have made the argument that millions of people first heard music on 5 minute per side 78s – and it wasn’t a problem for them! My Dad’s generation – presumably the same age as yourself – could say ‘we didn’t have 5 speed gearboxes or 2 litre engines in our cars – is this really a problem?’. Times change, some move with them. I imagine people in 1850 said ‘I don’t know why everybody needs to travel by rail – stopping off at three overnight staging posts between Exeter and London is no big deal’. My 70 year old stepmother would still like to ban (or uninvent) the internet because it’s not how it was in her day, back in the 60s when things were so much better – to her going to the library to check something in a book was ‘no big deal’.

        Perhaps most peculiar is the assertion ‘I’ll digitise it as I have with many vinyl items over the years and make a compilation from the discs. No hardship really’.

        Problems there:
        1. Need to be tech savvy.
        2. Need the right software and hardware.
        3. Time consuming.

        ‘Make a compilation’ – perhaps to make something like a CD??? Or Playlist? If flipping a set of 7″s is ‘no big deal’ why digitise and compile them for, presumably, ease of use? That makes it seem like a tacit admission that constantly flipping 7″s IS a bit of an annoying hassle! Yet, of course, it’s we whippersnappers who are under the age of 70 – and weren’t there at the time of Space Oddity – who are the awkward ones for wanting a format which compiles all the tracks in a digitised format, without all the fuss of flipping the records; a compiled format where somebody else has done all the hard work of digitising for us!

        • Mic Smith says:

          Blimey. Have I touched a raw nerve?

          I happen to enjoy 7” singles. Why is that such an issue to you?

          Digitising these things is part of a bigger project covering the stuff (from all formats) that so far hasn’t made it to the box sets. It has nothing to do with being too lazy to flip singles over.

          And since you’ve labelled me as a 70 year old from your dads generation let me just point out that I’m not even in my 60s. But I do have a mono copy of Space Oddity on 7” which I do like to play now and again.

        • RJS says:

          Great comment, Gorecki!

      • Nick says:

        But you also used to also have those spindle things and be able to load a stack of 45s or EPs. (45s were also used for the jukebox format where you can punch in a number of requests, then go dance for an hour). But nowadays 45s – and also those half-speed mastered albums you play at 45rpm are annoying. If I’d drifting off to some lovely Eno ambience, I have to get up every ten minutes or so to flip it over? Yeah. No thanks.

  8. Gorecki says:

    ‘This focus on 1969, the 50th anniversary of ‘Space Oddity’ could mark a shift in Parlophone’s strategy for Bowie releases this year, having issued the four box sets that took us from 1969 to 1988 in the last four year. We shall see…’

    Presumably it’s because they have until the end of 2019 to get these recordings out to qualify for the copyright extension under the use it or lose it clause.

    And isn’t it better for these to get released officially from as close to the original source as possible in, presumably, the most cleaned up sound as possible – rather than fall into the hands of companies who press on a thousand and one dodgy formats ripped/ sourced from who knows where – just look what’s happened to The Beatles’s work – Love Me Do on red star-shaped vinyl, white star-shaped vinyl, green apple-shaped vinyl, Union Flag picture disc, and endless concerts, sessions, demo tapes, etc. on colour vinyl, splatter vinyl (etc.)!

    I’d prefer to hear (and see) a proper job done BUT I will still be waiting for the, hopefully, far fuller CD version.

  9. Norrie MacLean says:

    I am not sure what to think of this one. The content and format seem a slightly odd choice, so it seems to be for serious collectors only. I would imagine I will buy it (I have bought everything else so far and cannot imagine I will stop now).

    Due to the lack of any significant b-sides throughout his career I had always imagined there was not much left in the vaults. Hopefully that will prove not to be the case.

    I would like to see the Ryko outtakes gathered up and re-issed in some way.

  10. thewildeyedboyfromfreecloud says:

    Well excited about this release. Unreleased Bowie material and on vinyl!
    I too also enjoy RSD and releases like this make it all the more enjoyable to get out and pick it up!

    • Gorecki says:

      I do not enjoy RSD and have had to give up on it. In my area, with just the one record shop within 25 miles (only 3 indie shops in the whole county), the stock is always very limited and to get what you’re after you have to queue from the very early hours in the cold. I am disabled, and growing more so with each passing year, and I can no longer stand for 6,7,8 hours in the cold and damp – a couple of years ago it was snow and freezing rain! – and I cannot take a folding seat because I physically cannot carry one. I also dislike my local shop’s policy of, having queued for 6 hours, letting you in for a few minutes, not allowing you to browse the rest of their shelves, and only letting you buy 8 titles, before shunting you out. (You can buy a further 8 titles but only if you join the back of the queue for another few hours!)

      I last did the queue three years ago chugging vast quantities of painkillers to get through. But I was barely able to walk for the next three days, just hobbling around when I needed something desperately. It was at that point I realised, reluctantly, I could no longer do the RSD event.

      When RSD started we had two shops in the same town – which kept the remaining shop’s prices down (without the competition they rocketed) – and it was fun. There was live music, cakes, friendly staff, and a generally good atmosphere, etc. You could go down mid-morning and there’d still be plenty of the exclusives on the shelves. Now, it’s just ‘get in, get stuff, get out’ as fast possible – with a miserable cynical pall hanging over the whole thing. The fun completely vanished at some point: when the hype got too much? When the ‘flippers’ (other dolphins are available!) started gobbling up the ‘product’? When the stores had to deal with queues stretching to the hundreds? When the stores realised that in a contracting market this was the chance to make about half their annual profit in a single day?

      Last year, I pottered down late-morning – still had a 45 minute queue – picked up some of what I was after (from that which was left), and picked up most of the rest from a couple of the large indies online a week later (when the embargo lifted). I may not have got everything I wanted, but at least I could still walk the following day.

      I’m not begging for sympathy (who needs that when you have music, painkillers, and tea!), and I can’t see a fix for all the clear problems that RSD has evolved over the years, I’m just suggesting that RSD is not the most wonderful fun day for some that it is for many others.

      • Andy Haines says:

        I totally agree with you. It’s changed from something that was there to celebrate your local independent record store to solely a race for who can get the exclusive releases on eBay as fast as possible and fleece those who can’t make it to the stores on the day for whatever reason. Last year there were even some being sold on eBay the day before! I thought they couldn’t do that. Then you get those who are selling multiple copies of the same title. Again how can they do that? They need to reassess how RSD works, (or doesn’t)

  11. Gisabun says:

    Jeez. the estate is milking the die hard fans.
    I am guessing 4 v7″ vinyls with one side having 2 tracks on it.

    • Sideline Sam says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth Gisabun!

      They don’t have much time to milk his catalog though as the demographic for this product is getting smaller by the day so they need to pump these out ASAP. After they finish picking through the trash bin resurrecting what initially was tossed and considered garbage but now is (gold)???, they’ll move from Bowie’s music to Bowie’s interviews. “If you love his music, you’ll love his spoken words” will be the tagline to hook the last diehard fans that will just have to have it. Why? Because it’s BOWIE!!!!!!!!!

      Pure greed at its finest! They’re giving the Hendrix estate some serious competition.

      As a poster said: “It’s more Bowie unreleased stuff, so how can that ultimately be a bad thing?” They’re hoping that there are enough people that feel the same way and will buy it all no matter what it is. Bring on the spoken word!

  12. elton says:

    Crikey, the moaning here is crazy! It’s more Bowie unreleased stuff, so how can that ultimately be a bad thing? Never heard so much whinging over being offered something that one has every right NOT to purchase.

    Not to mention RSD haters getting in on the action. RSD is fun if you let yourself have fun with it. If you stress about it and turn into a flipper’s dream, that’s your own damn fault for taking it so seriously. With the imminent demise of HMV approaching, you’d think people would be a little more supportive of the record shops that DO still exist. Oy vey, baby, indeed.

  13. RJS says:

    One for the box collectors. A few years ago this would have been released on CD with very little fanfare and sold for about a fiver.

  14. Craig Hedges says:

    Why has the visual output of Bowie been ignored? Whilst the 2002 Best of Bowie DVD was good at the time, it does need a Blu ray update. Mopping up any additional TV/Live performances especially the TOTP performance of Jean Genie.
    I’d love a compilation which includes some of David’s interviews. He could be incredibly funny at times and I watch these on you tube quite often. The last couple of interviews with Jonathan Ross were very good.
    And a release on Blu ray of Five years/Last Five years and the forthcoming First Five Years
    …and Cracked actor

  15. Dean says:

    Pathetic. Also disappointing to see some posting here poking fun at others because they don’t want Vinyl. We’re all music lovers, and all we want is the music we love, in a format we have. I get no pleasure when others can’t get what they want, nor do I attack them for voicing their upset. I guess it’s a sign of the society we live in, we can’t feel any empathy for others, as long as you get what YOU want.

    This product is ridiculous. We’ve been waiting decades for a release such as this, and it finally arrives….. on 7″ Vinyl. It’s a disgrace, but the marketing heads who run music these days will be happy, I guess.

  16. El Nino says:

    I’ll hold fire on this one. I’m waiting for the Laughing Gnome sessions – the title will be a play on the recent Bob Dylan set – “More Laughs, More Gnomes”.

  17. Peter Ratcliffe says:

    Has to be RSD Surely?wreaks of another money making exercise bring it out as a album on colored vinyl as seems to be the trend. Then CD later cannot see point of 7″ singles.

  18. frank says:

    Wow! Can’t wait to pick this up which should be easy since the “cd only” and “oh, what a cash grab” folks are going to skip on it!

    Happy birthday David. You are and always will be missed.

    • smorrissey says:

      Vinyl no, CD, Digital & Streaming yes, oh well.
      Wait a minute i don’t like Bowie this much, so i’ll pass….

  19. Seth Hollander says:

    If I were running the Bowie marketing, I wouldn’t do another back-catalog box in 2019. Tin Machine is not a beloved Bowie period, so selling it will be tricky. The flurry of 4 box sets has burned up a lot of the hunger-for-back-catalog in the Bowie fanbase. The last two boxes have been plagued by complaints about audio quality (ANCIANT) or weak content (LTA).
    2019 would be a year of other archival projects, maybe 2020 also.
    Then return to the boxes for the final three (Tin Machine, 90s, 21st Century) after people have gotten hungry for them again.
    Plus, his albums after what has already been boxed had very little commercial/”Pop” impact and are not well-known. Outside of his core fanbase that already own augmented re-issues of pretty much all the albums involved, the post-87 material is not a sure sell. Letting it get a little older will only help it seem more “classic”….

  20. Matthew says:

    Finally……., I’m so lit for this.

    Bah humbug, enough of the moaning already!
    It’ll be available on other formats at some point.
    Profit isn’t a dirty word and I hope that Parlophone/Bowie estate make enough money to consider a proper album by album sde campaign.
    Happy Birthday

    • Gorecki says:

      Finally somebody states the bleedin’ obvious ‘profit isn’t a dirty word’! When did half the commenters think Parlophone became a charitable foundation (or ‘not for profit’ as our American friends would say)? Why does everybody now think they have a right to everything free? (Except for the FANGS – who charge ‘one immortal soul’!)

  21. Wolfgang says:

    The ultimate rip off.
    Parlophone: “how can we make the most expensive thing out of poor quality demos?
    Oh yes, a 7” box set’.
    Despiseable.

  22. poptones says:

    Interesting but I have absolutely zero interest in buying such a 7″ box set of unreleased material !

    Considering the 5 years 1969-1973 box set is out of print and unavailable on vinyl, they could have re-released it and added this collection either as an extra vinyl in the box set or a download card. IMO it’s ridiculous to create a box set of singles.

    • Nigel D Day says:

      Can’t see that going down well. I was lucky to pick up the Five Years Box when it was still in HMV at a reasonable price. There is no way I would buy the box again just for these tracks. I’m kinda excited about this release but if I had my own way a mini LP option would have been preferable. And couldn’t they find room for things like Over The Wall We Go, Little Toy Soldier and the other oddities that we all know are out there ?

  23. AdamW says:

    One LP/CD? Sure. Streaming/download? Totally. A cassette, even? Plausible. But a box of 7″? Nonsense.

    It’s one thing to release a box of 7″ singles to emulate a series of previous single releases, or perhaps an interesting way to reissue an existing album. But there is no earthly reason to organize these nine songs in this particular physical format, except for the potential price tag. It’s absurd.

    • Chris Squires says:

      Spot on, there are a number of really great singles boxes out there, and the one I want next is the ELO one. They have a purpose, a raison d’être, to collate a career from when the single *really* mattered. (Undertones, The Beat, TREX, ABBA to name but four)

      Even something like the Pollinator set can have a purpose when it is allied to the normal album. But this across 5 x 7″ is an excuse to charge £50, whereas an LP will be available for significantly less. My suggestion is that they should do both. A lovely coloured Vinyl set of 7 inchers like the Beatles Christmas set *AND* a standard black vinyl LP. Super fans will buy both, the casual / curious can get the LP for £18 or £13 on a Deal alert after a few months. It’s win / win. Just a 7″ set is a bit of a desperate move. And people will see it for what it is.

  24. Steve W says:

    Not for me as I’m not a completionist and am not much interested in pre -1969 but it sounds like fun. (I’ll probably pick it up when it comes out on cd. :) )

  25. Keith says:

    Vinyl no CD yes oh well

  26. GentleRabbit says:

    Happy Birthday, David!

    We miss you.

  27. andrew R says:

    I have said this before i followed Bowie from Ziggy to his death
    Post his passing he is fast being turned into the glam Elvis
    The amount of product being turned out since his passing smacks more of earning quickly ,
    than a carefully curated strategy, like for instance Apple has for Beatles product
    Parlophone want to be careful, he is beyond cool as an artist at the moment
    but that can change with over exposure.

  28. Tippy says:

    Interesting that the official announcement at Bowie’s site states “Although this will be the first physical release of these tracks, Parlophone did make them available on streaming services for a limited period only in December. ” – Did anyone hear them, then?

  29. daveid76 says:

    Happy birthday David.

  30. Paul Fraser says:

    As I’m reading Rebel Rebel by Chris O’Leary at the moment, I’m very excited by this announcement (and sorry for Chris that his definitive list of Bowie songs is no longer definitive). I’m sure this will sound rather patchy, like hearing the Riot Squad e.p. but the historical curiosity overrides the desire for quality.

    Will wait for the price to see if this is a must-have or a wait for the CD/digital version to appear.

  31. Michael says:

    Hi Paul

    Happy New Year. The world could certainly use one. Do you know who’s in charge of DB estate? They seem to be quite shameless in sprucking product. Thanks

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Don’t know, but obviously they have to approve releases such as this, so it’s official and authorised.

  32. Gary Thompson says:

    It also ties in to the latest BBC documentary which will focus on the pre Space Oddity period.

  33. Charles says:

    New Bowie release! Great news! Something else for people to tear apart in the comments. Tin Machine box set 2019!

  34. Daryl says:

    Hopefully there will be a CD release at some point!

  35. Dan says:

    Interesting that the press release notes “the selections are from an archive of tracks cleared for release by Bowie”

  36. David Perry says:

    Amazing. I am going to be having this in a major way.

  37. LeeJay says:

    of course it will get a future release. there’s no doubt there will be volumes of rare and previously unreleased material on both cd and vinyl at some point. parlophone may well change direction, it remains to be seen if they will continue with the officially previously released material boxsets later this year or they go this different route.
    interesting that parlophone can release stuff that predates 1969 now, I thought that was under a different label and that bowie didn’t have the rights to that earlier material.?

    • Bart says:

      Better be on CD. Im not vinyl collector

    • Quatrmass says:

      For the most part, this seems to be material recorded while he was looking for a new label after leaving Deram. Therefore, he would have owned it. Also, home demos often seem to slip through the net when it comes to labels assuming ownership.

  38. Caroline says:

    My *guess* is that these will also appear on an expanded 50 Year edition of “David Bowie” (1969) of some description.

    I also guess there will be 3 7″ in the box.

    What are my odds-on this as an accumulator, Paddy Power?

  39. Fredpostman says:

    I know it would never happen BUT how about ‘David Bowie/Jones’ the complete songs’ boxset 1963-1969 anybody?Unfortunately i am resigned to never hearing all the out takes/unreleased songs in my lifetime [being in my late 50s and using Elvis a s a guide [40 years on and new/old stuff is still being issued].C’est La Vie [i have heard that one LOL]

  40. Rory McCann says:

    If this is a RSD release I’ll be livid. F’ing hate Record Store Day and it annoys me so much that the Bowie Estate puts out really good stuff on that day.

  41. Andrea says:

    Total madness. A box of 7” for nine demos.

    • motte says:

      Hope the put them on four or five discs.
      Imagine the price for nine single-sided 7″-singles with etched b-sides…

  42. Paul Wainwright says:

    There is only so much you can find in the vault ,if these songs were any good David would have put them out

  43. Harrysmith3rd says:

    RSD release l presume, at a premium price ?

  44. Trash says:

    Not really interested in this. As much as I love Bowie I suspect it is something that would be interesting to hear a couple of times and that’s it.

    However, I really like the image used on the cover…

  45. Mark S says:

    I would imagine the focus on 1969 on this occasion is maybe more to do with the 50 year copyright row that rumbles on.
    Similar to why The Beatles, Dylan, Floyd etc all released stuff in a limited format on the 50 year deadline. Just a thought.

    • Graham says:

      My thought exactly – this is connected to the 50 year mechanical copyright limit.

      I’ll buy if there’s a CD release. Bot paying the vinyl premium.

  46. Catweazle says:

    Just wow! This is the real thing! Much more interesting than most of what has been released since David’s death. Hope there’s more like this to come.

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