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David Bowie - Conversation Piece

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Conversation Piece

David Bowie

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Langue disponible : anglais

Conversation Piece effectively amounts to an exhaustive documentation of David Bowie becoming David Bowie over the course of 1968 and 1969. The five-disc box -- which is packaged in a handsome, hefty hardcover book -- collects a series of home demos, many released in a series of limited-edition vinyl box sets over the course of 2019, plus two mixes of David Bowie (aka Space Oddity), the 1969 album that brought him into the public eye. Strictly speaking, there aren't many unheard tracks here. Everything from the Spying Through a Keyhole, Clareville Grove Demos, and The "Mercury" Demos sets are here, along with a brand-new mix of the Space Oddity album by Tony Visconti, one that restores "Conversation Piece" as part of its sequence. Setting aside the new mix of Space Oddity, that leaves 11 tracks out of 75 that are making their debut here, including several that have never been bootlegged and a couple that weren't even known to exist. Chief among these is "Jerusalem," a winding folk tale in the vein of Dylan's "Desolation Row," and the jaunty "Animal Farm," but compressed Pink Floyd-isms of "The Reverend Raymond Brown (Attends the Garden Fete on Thatchwick Green)" is pretty charming, too. Still, the selling point of Conversation Piece is its comprehensive context. Here, there's a distinct narrative tying together the early, tentative, solo home demos and his collaborations with John "Hutch" Hutchinson, Bowie's initial recordings with Visconti, his one-off single with the folky Feathers, then finally the Space Oddity album itself. Hearing Bowie sculpt "Space Oddity," both with and without Hutchinson, heightens the appreciation of the craft behind the music. The same can be said of the rest of the songs Bowie toiled over, whether it's the trifle "Ching-A-Ling" or the ornate "An Occasional Dream." Visconti's new mix does sound big and vivid, suitable to the sonic standards of 2019, but he doesn't change the feel of the record, which is the right method considering how thoroughly this set is steeped in the sensibility of 1969. That's it's charm, of course. Instead of treating Bowie as a visionary operating on his own celestial plane, Conversation Piece emphasizes the hard work and thought behind his artistic evolution. Perhaps a fair amount of these numbers are either ephemeral or evocative baubles, but the core songs -- not just the highlights from the album, but "In the Heat of the Morning" and "London Bye, Ta-Ta," are hazy remnants from a fading fever dream of the swinging '60s -- demonstrate how sharp a singer/songwriter Bowie was at this stage. Having such subtle revelations readily available in a CD box set, not a collection of 7" singles, is reason enough for Conversation Piece to exist.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Conversation Piece

David Bowie

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1
April's Tooth Of Gold Home Demo
00:02:29

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, Instruments, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

2
The Reverend Raymond Brown (Attends the Garden Fête on Thatchwick Green) Home Demo
00:02:17

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, Instruments, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

3
When I'm Five Home Demo
00:03:17

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, Instruments, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

4
Mother Grey Home Demo
00:03:00

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2018 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

5
In The Heat Of The Morning Home Demo
00:02:59

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2018 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

6
Goodbye 3d (Threepenny) Joe Home Demo
00:03:19

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2018 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

7
Love All Around Home Demo
00:02:49

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2018 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

8
London Bye, Ta-Ta Home Demo
00:03:30

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2018 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

9
Angel, Angel, Grubby Face Home Demo Version 1
00:02:31

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2018 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

10
Angel, Angel, Grubby Face Home Demo Version 2
00:02:37

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2018 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

11
Animal Farm Home Demo
00:02:22

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, Instruments, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

12
Space Oddity Solo Home Demo Fragment
00:02:39

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2018 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

13
Space Oddity Home Demo Version 1
00:04:02

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - John Hutchinson, Guitar, Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2018 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

14
Space Oddity Home Demo Version 2
00:05:01

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - John Hutchinson, Guitar, Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

15
Space Oddity Home Demo Version 3; 2019 Remaster
00:05:09

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - John Hutchinson, Guitar, Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2009, 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

16
Lover To The Dawn Home Demo
00:03:51

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John Hutchinson, Guitar, Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

17
Ching-a-Ling Home Demo
00:02:58

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John Hutchinson, Guitar, Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

18
An Occasional Dream Home Demo; 2019 Remaster
00:02:50

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John Hutchinson, Guitar, Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2009, 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

19
Let Me Sleep Beside You Home Demo
00:02:54

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John Hutchinson, Guitar, Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

20
Life Is A Circus Home Demo
00:04:50

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - John Hutchinson, Guitar, Vocals - Roger Bunn, Composer

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

21
Conversation Piece Home Demo
00:03:49

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, Instruments, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

22
Jerusalem Home Demo
00:04:20

David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, Instruments, MainArtist

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

23
Hole In The Ground Home Demo
00:03:29

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - George Underwood, Guitar, Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

DISQUE 2

1
Space Oddity (with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson) 'Mercury' Demo
00:05:28

Ray Staff, Masterer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, With Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

2
Janine (with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson) 'Mercury' Demo
00:03:53

John Lennon, Composer - Paul Mccartney, Composer - Ray Staff, Masterer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, With Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

3
An Occasional Dream (with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson) 'Mercury' Demo
00:03:18

Ray Staff, Masterer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, With Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

4
Conversation Piece (with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson) 'Mercury' Demo
00:03:31

Ray Staff, Masterer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, With Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

5
Ching-a-Ling (with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson) 'Mercury' Demo
00:03:35

Ray Staff, Masterer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, With Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

6
I'm Not Quite (aka Letter To Hermione) [with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson] 'Mercury' Demo
00:04:04

Ray Staff, Masterer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, With Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

7
Lover To The Dawn (with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson) 'Mercury' Demo
00:05:01

Ray Staff, Masterer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, With Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

8
Love Song (with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson) 'Mercury' Demo
00:04:08

Lesley Duncan, Composer - Ray Staff, Masterer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, With Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

9
When I'm Five (with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson) 'Mercury' Demo
00:03:13

Ray Staff, Masterer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, With Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

10
Life Is A Circus (with John 'Hutch' Hutchinson) 'Mercury' Demo
00:05:33

Ray Staff, Masterer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Roger Bunn, Composer - John 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, With Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

DISQUE 3

1
In The Heat Of The Morning Decca Mono Version
00:02:52

Alan Hawkshaw, Hammond Organ - Gus Dudgeon, Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Arranger, Bass - Andy White, Drums - Mick Wayne, Guitar

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1968 Decca Music Group Limited

2
London Bye, Ta-Ta Decca Alternative Version
00:02:36

Alan Hawkshaw, Hammond Organ - Gus Dudgeon, Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Arranger, Bass - Andy White, Drums - Mick Wayne, Guitar

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1968 Universal Music Operations Limited

3
In the Heat Of The Morning (John Peel - Top Gear) Recorded 13.5.68
00:03:01

Alan Hawkshaw, Keyboards - Barry Morgan, Drums - Herbie Flowers, Bass - Bernie Andrews, Producer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Backing Vocals - John McLaughlin, Guitar - Pete Ritzema, Engineer - Alan Harris, Engineer - Tony Visconti Orchestra, Orchestra - Steve Peregrin Took, Backing Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1968 BBC

4
London Bye, Ta-Ta (John Peel - Top Gear) Recorded 13.5.68
00:02:37

Alan Hawkshaw, Keyboards - Barry Morgan, Drums - Herbie Flowers, Bass - Bernie Andrews, Producer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Backing Vocals - John McLaughlin, Guitar - Pete Ritzema, Engineer - Alan Harris, Engineer - Tony Visconti Orchestra, Orchestra - Steve Peregrin Took, Backing Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1968 BBC

5
Karma Man (John Peel - Top Gear) Recorded 13.5.68
00:03:07

Alan Hawkshaw, Keyboards - Barry Morgan, Drums - Herbie Flowers, Bass - Bernie Andrews, Producer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Backing Vocals - John McLaughlin, Guitar - Pete Ritzema, Engineer - Alan Harris, Engineer - Tony Visconti Orchestra, Orchestra - Steve Peregrin Took, Backing Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1968 BBC

6
When I'm Five (John Peel - Top Gear) Recorded 13.5.68
00:03:14

Alan Hawkshaw, Keyboards - Barry Morgan, Drums - Herbie Flowers, Bass - Bernie Andrews, Producer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Backing Vocals - John McLaughlin, Guitar - Pete Ritzema, Engineer - Alan Harris, Engineer - Tony Visconti Orchestra, Orchestra - Steve Peregrin Took, Backing Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1968 BBC

7
Silly Boy Blue (John Peel - Top Gear) Recorded 13.5.68
00:04:32

Alan Hawkshaw, Keyboards - Barry Morgan, Drums - Herbie Flowers, Bass - Bernie Andrews, Producer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Backing Vocals - John McLaughlin, Guitar - Pete Ritzema, Engineer - Alan Harris, Engineer - Tony Visconti Orchestra, Orchestra - Steve Peregrin Took, Backing Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1968 BBC

8
Ching-a-Ling Mono
00:02:51

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Arranger, Bass - Malcolm Toft, Engineer - John Hutchinson, Guitar, Vocals - Chris Karan, Drums - Hermione Farthingale, Guitar, Vocals

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1992 Decca Music Group Limited

9
Space Oddity Morgan Studios, Alternative Take
00:04:22

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - John Hutchinson, Guitar, Vocals - Dave Clague, Bass - Tat Meager, Drums - Jonathan Weston, Producer - Colin Wood, Flute, Hammond Organ, Mellotron

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

10
Space Oddity UK Mono Single Edit; 2015 Remaster
00:04:42

Terry Cox, Drums - Herbie Flowers, Bass - Rick Wakeman, Mellotron - Ray Staff, Remastering Engineer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, Synthesizer, MainArtist - Ken Scott, Engineer - Mick Wayne, Guitar - Barry Sheffield, Engineer - Unknown Session Orchestra, Orchestra

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1969, 2015 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

11
Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud Mono, Single B-Side, 2015 Remaster
00:04:54

Paul Buckmaster, Cello - Ray Staff, Remastering Engineer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - David Bowie, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Ken Scott, Engineer - Barry Sheffield, Engineer

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1969, 2015 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

12
Janine Mono Version; 2015 Remaster
00:03:22

Ray Staff, Remastering Engineer - David Bowie, Percussion, Vocals, Writer, 12 String Guitar, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer, Bass - Ken Scott, Engineer - John Lodge, Bass - Tim Renwick, Guitar - John Cambridge, Drums - Malcolm Toft, Engineer - Keith Christmas, Acoustic Guitar - Barry Sheffield, Engineer

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1969, 2015 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

13
Conversation Piece Mono Version; 2015 Remaster
00:03:07

Ray Staff, Remastering Engineer - David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Tony Visconti, Producer - John Lodge, Bass - Mick Wayne, Guitar - John Cambridge, Drums - Unknown Session Orchestra, Orchestra

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1970, 2015 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

14
Let Me Sleep Beside You BBC Radio Session D.L.T Show
00:03:20

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Paul Williams, Producer - John Lodge, Bass - Pete Ritzema, Engineer - Tim Renwick, Guitar - Junior's Eyes, Musicians - Mick Wayne, Guitar - John Cambridge, Drums

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1969 BBC

15
Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed BBC Radio Session D.L.T. Show
00:04:04

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Paul Williams, Producer - John Lodge, Bass - Pete Ritzema, Engineer - Tim Renwick, Guitar - Junior's Eyes, Musicians - Mick Wayne, Guitar - John Cambridge, Drums

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1969 BBC

16
Janine BBC Radio Session D.L.T Show
00:03:03

David Bowie, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - Paul Williams, Producer - John Lodge, Bass - Pete Ritzema, Engineer - Tim Renwick, Guitar - Junior's Eyes, Musicians - Mick Wayne, Guitar - John Cambridge, Drums

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1969 BBC

DISQUE 4

1
Space Oddity 2009 Remaster
00:05:16

Terry Cox, Drums - Herbie Flowers, Bass - Rick Wakeman, Mellotron - Ray Staff, Remastering Engineer - Gus Dudgeon, Producer - David Bowie, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - Ken Scott, Engineer - Mick Wayne, Guitar - Barry Sheffield, Engineer - Unknown Session Orchestra, Orchestra

© 2019 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC ℗ 1969, 2009 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company LLC under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

Descriptif de l'album

Conversation Piece effectively amounts to an exhaustive documentation of David Bowie becoming David Bowie over the course of 1968 and 1969. The five-disc box -- which is packaged in a handsome, hefty hardcover book -- collects a series of home demos, many released in a series of limited-edition vinyl box sets over the course of 2019, plus two mixes of David Bowie (aka Space Oddity), the 1969 album that brought him into the public eye. Strictly speaking, there aren't many unheard tracks here. Everything from the Spying Through a Keyhole, Clareville Grove Demos, and The "Mercury" Demos sets are here, along with a brand-new mix of the Space Oddity album by Tony Visconti, one that restores "Conversation Piece" as part of its sequence. Setting aside the new mix of Space Oddity, that leaves 11 tracks out of 75 that are making their debut here, including several that have never been bootlegged and a couple that weren't even known to exist. Chief among these is "Jerusalem," a winding folk tale in the vein of Dylan's "Desolation Row," and the jaunty "Animal Farm," but compressed Pink Floyd-isms of "The Reverend Raymond Brown (Attends the Garden Fete on Thatchwick Green)" is pretty charming, too. Still, the selling point of Conversation Piece is its comprehensive context. Here, there's a distinct narrative tying together the early, tentative, solo home demos and his collaborations with John "Hutch" Hutchinson, Bowie's initial recordings with Visconti, his one-off single with the folky Feathers, then finally the Space Oddity album itself. Hearing Bowie sculpt "Space Oddity," both with and without Hutchinson, heightens the appreciation of the craft behind the music. The same can be said of the rest of the songs Bowie toiled over, whether it's the trifle "Ching-A-Ling" or the ornate "An Occasional Dream." Visconti's new mix does sound big and vivid, suitable to the sonic standards of 2019, but he doesn't change the feel of the record, which is the right method considering how thoroughly this set is steeped in the sensibility of 1969. That's it's charm, of course. Instead of treating Bowie as a visionary operating on his own celestial plane, Conversation Piece emphasizes the hard work and thought behind his artistic evolution. Perhaps a fair amount of these numbers are either ephemeral or evocative baubles, but the core songs -- not just the highlights from the album, but "In the Heat of the Morning" and "London Bye, Ta-Ta," are hazy remnants from a fading fever dream of the swinging '60s -- demonstrate how sharp a singer/songwriter Bowie was at this stage. Having such subtle revelations readily available in a CD box set, not a collection of 7" singles, is reason enough for Conversation Piece to exist.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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