Recording: The Bewlay Brothers

David Bowie recorded the Hunky Dory finale ‘The Bewlay Brothers’ on 30 July 1971.

It was the only song on the album not to have been demoed previously. Bowie recorded it at Trident Studios in London in two takes, the second of which appears on the album.

The multitrack tape previously contained early versions of ‘Song For Bob Dylan’ and ‘Fill Your Heart’, which were wiped to make way for the new song.

Let’s see, there’s a piano through a Leslie cabinet, some backwards guitar from Ronno and the end chorus is a multitude of vari-speeded voices, you can even hear the Laughing Gnome in there!

I loved David’s main vocal on this, right in your face and dry, which is how I kept it almost the whole time, but for a slightly different spatial effect I put a lot of reverb on his low verse vocal which set it back in the mix and at a distance from his lead.

Ken Scott, May 2015
Five Years (1969-1973) book

The recording features only Bowie’s vocals and multi-tracked guitars by him and Mick Ronson, including backwards electric guitar in the choruses.

That’s one of my favorite songs. I don’t think anyone was in the studio apart from Ken and David. It was one he’d been creating lyrically while we were in the studio. We’d been to a club, and we came in at the end of the session and he just played it, and it was one of those that took you somewhere. I think David’s knack as a lyricist is putting together words where there’s so much space for you to put in your own interpretation. That’s his art. He generally doesn’t say, “This is about…” even though the chorus might sum something up. It still leaves it wide open for you to interpret and that’s really what he’s good at, which is why he’s a cut above the rest.
Woody Woodmansey
Kooks, Queen Bitches And Andy Warhol, Ken Sharp
Last updated: 5 April 2023
Live: Marquee Club, London
Also on this day...

Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.

Leave a Reply