David Bowie’s self-titled second album was released in the United Kingdom on 14 November 1969.
The album is often referred to as Space Oddity, to differentiate it from Bowie’s eponymous debut from 1967.
The success of the ‘Space Oddity’ single did not guarantee sales for the David Bowie album. The album was similarly unsuccessful in the US, where it was released in February 1970. Critics were divided, although Disc and Music Echo reporter Penny Valentine enthusiastically described Bowie as “a latter-day Dylan,” adding that “it is an album a lot of people are going to expect a lot from. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.”
The album was simply titled David Bowie, which caused some confusion with his 1967 debut of the same name. In the US the cover featured the phrase “Man Of Words/Man Of Music”, which was intended as a description of the music and not the album’s title (a fact confirmed by the labels on the vinyl and official documentation from that time). Despite this, the American release is often referred to by that name.
Bowie is the only musician credited on the UK edition. The other performers are merely described as “Friends”. The US edition, however, featured names of all the musicians.
In 1972 the album was reissued by RCA with the title Space Oddity, and omitted the brief jam ‘Don’t Sit Down’. The new version sported a more recent photograph of Bowie with his Ziggy Stardust-era look, somewhat misleadingly given the predominantly acoustic music contained within. Despite this, the album sold well the second time around, peaking at number 16 in the US and 17 in the UK.
Also on this day...
- 1974: Live: Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
- 1972: Live: Loyola University, New Orleans
- 1969: Live: Frisco’s Club, Edinburgh
- 1969: Live: Adam Smith Hall, Kirkcaldy
- 1966: Recording: Uncle Arthur, She’s Got Medals
- 1964: Live: Davie Jones and the Manish Boys, Royal Star, Maidstone
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.