BBC radio recording
On 5 February 1970 Bowie recorded his fourth BBC radio session, for The Sunday Show presented by John Peel.
The session, which was broadcast on 8 February, was recorded at the BBC Paris Studio on Lower Regent Street, London, and was produced by Jeff Griffin. Bowie sang and played guitar and keyboards, and was backed by Mick Ronson on guitar, Tony Visconti on bass, and John Cambridge on drums.
Bowie recorded the first four songs solo, before singing a further eleven with the band. Among the band renditions was ‘An Occasional Dream’, which was released on the 2021 album The Width Of A Circle.
In 2009 a 40th anniversary reissue of the album was released, which contained a second disc of demos and rarities. Among them was the Clareville Grove demo of ‘An Occasional Dream’.
It came as a surprise then, as you can imagine, when Kevin Cann phoned me to say that David had asked him to act as intermediary with me over the impending re-release of the ‘David Bowie’ album on the EMI label. The album would be a special edition for his fans and it was to have a ‘disc 2’ which would include two ‘demos’ recorded in the sixties by David and myself. The tracks were to be ‘Space Oddity’, a mix that I had never heard before, and ‘An Occasional Dream’, a song that I did remember well, because it shows that David can ‘really sing’. The track received a fair slice of Scott Walker vibrato style voice control from me too; as I tried my best to ‘really sing’ as David does naturally.
I have no idea how David Bowie came to have ownership of these tracks, but that business was none of my business, and so I agreed to sign a contract with David and with EMI for their release. I have the document with both our signatures, David’s and mine – and signing it felt very remote, very cold, not how it should have been really.
The album has a sleeve that includes a great old Ken Pitt photo of David and me with guitars and my eldest son Christian – he was just one year old at the time – taken round at David’s flat in Clareville Grove in November 1968. The CD sleeve, written by Kevin Cann, also has a paragraph which briefly but succinctly outlines my own contribution to David Bowie’s output back in those days. Kevin’s paragraph, together with David’s instruction that ‘We have to make sure that Hutch gets paid for this release’ mean more to me than whatever the royalty payments might amount to.
Bowie & Hutch
A remixed version of the album by Visconti was released in 2019, and as part of the Conversation Piece box set.
In addition to the remastered album version and the remix, Conversation Piece also included the Mercury and Clareville Grove demos, and an Early Mix of the studio recording.