Recording: Man In The Middle, Looking For A Friend by The Arnold Corns

Following their initial recording session on 25 February 1971, on 17 June The Arnold Corns had a second recording session.

It took place at Trident Studios in London with David Bowie producing and Roy Thomas Baker engineering. The songs ‘Man In The Middle’ and ‘Looking For A Friend’ were recorded.

Burretti sang on ‘Looking For A Friend’, while guitarist Mark Pritchett took lead vocals on ‘Man In The Middle’. Also performing were Bowie’s regular backing band: guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder, and drummer Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey.

The B&C label had released Arnold Corns’ awful single – versions of ‘Moonage Daydream’ and ‘Hang On To Yourself’ – in May 1971, and it disappeared without trace. That track had been recorded in February. Now Bowie wanted us to play on the new single. Mick and I were sceptical, but we’d met Freddie a few times and thought he was OK – if a bit naive – and he was certainly extremely good-looking, like a Greek god in fact! So we agreed and on 17 June, me, Mick and Trevor recorded ‘Man In The Middle’ and (the B-side) ‘Looking For A Friend’. That was when we realized that although Freddie looked like the ultimate rock frontman, he couldn’t sing a note. The guy had no voice whatsoever. He tried to sing while Bowie sang along with him, but the recordings were terrible.

Essentially, Bowie was attempting to create a rock star while standing outside the concept, but he decided to do it himself when it didn’t work out. The rock star character he’d created gave him a viewpoint to operate from, as I understand it, although he had no idea how far it would evolve.

Woody Woodmansey
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The Arnold Corns was a side project band fronted by fashion designer Freddie Burretti. It was, however, mainly a vehicle for Bowie, who was reluctant to record for his own label, Mercury, mainly due to their amendments to the artwork of the US edition of The Man Who Sold The World. Instead he recorded a number of his songs with other artists: The Arnold Corns, Peter Noone, and Micky King.

What became Arnold Corns was a band called Rungk, which was me and two fellow students at Dulwich College. David was a neighbour. He lived across the street; I used to do stuff at his folk club – I probably had more equipment than he did. After The Man Who Sold The World flopped, David was having arguments with his label, and was writing all this stuff and wanted to get some of it down; he just wanted to get it out there around his current contracts.

After The Man Who Sold The World the band all left, but I was still there across the street. He thought, ‘I can do this with a load of public schoolboys’ – he loved it, and he wanted Freddie Buretti to front it up. Freddie had been around for a bit. I said to David, ‘Freddie can dance and he can pose, but he cannot sing.’ The first one, ‘Moonage Daydream’ and ‘Hang On To Yourself’, is Rungk, bass, drums and guitar – I play a bit of piano on it – and David singing. Freddie, also known as Rudi Valentino, he made the cosrumes but he didn’t have a great set of tonsils on him.

Mark Pritchett
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‘Looking For A Friend’ was intended to be The Arnold Corns’ second single, but it remained unreleased until 1985. In August 1972 B&C Records issued their version of ‘Hang On To Yourself’ with ‘Man In The Middle’ on the b-side.

Last updated: 5 April 2023
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