Released: 6 April 1973
Five Years (1969–1973)
David Bowie: vocals
Mick Ronson: guitar
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey: drums
David Bowie recorded a version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Around And Around’ during the Ziggy Stardust album sessions.
Berry’s song was originally the b-side of his 1958 single ‘Johnny B Goode’. It was later covered by a number of artists including the Rolling Stones and the Aminals.
In the studio
Bowie began performing the song, which he retitled ‘Round And Round’, from September 1971. A studio version was recorded that November at Trident in London.
Originally one of the tracks intended for Ziggy was ‘Round And Round’, the old Chuck Berry rock ‘n’ roll classic. That one had the least number of overdubs of all the songs that weren’t strictly acoustic and was completely finished. It was actually supposed to be on the album until RCA decided they needed a single and that was the track that got kicked.
Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust
‘Round And Round’ would have been the perfect kind of number that Ziggy would have done on stage. I think probably what happened… is that it was a jam. We jammed ‘Round And Round’ for old times’ sake in the studio and the enthusiasm of the jam probably waned after we heard the track a few times and we replaced it with a thing called ‘Starman’…
I don’t think it’s any great loss really. I think, I certainly haven’t destroyed any of those tracks. I’ve kept them all. I think that maybe that we could put them out as a budget album or something at a later date, the stuff that never really got used.
Bowie’s performance of ‘Round And Round’ at the Ziggy Stardust farewell show in July 1973 featured Jeff Beck on guitar. It was not included in DA Pennebaker’s concert film, or the live album Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture, after Beck denied permission.
There’s always been this whole thing about Ziggy being a concept album, but it really wasn’t. There are only two rock albums that I would 100% consider concept albums: Tommy and Quadrophenia by The Who, and that’s because they were written as a complete piece, whereas Ziggy was just a patchwork of songs. Yes, they fit together very well and one can weave a story from some of them, but when you consider that ‘Round And Round’ was originally there in place of ‘Starman’, it doesn’t make much sense as a concept. How does ‘Round And Round’ ever fit into the Ziggy story? It’s a classic Chuck Berry song. How does ‘It Ain’t Easy’ fit in with the Ziggy concept? That was taken from the Hunky Dory sessions. All this about Ziggy being ‘Starman’ is bullshit. It was a song that was just put in as a single at the last minute at the record label’s insistence. So while it’s true that there were a few songs that fitted the ‘concept’, the rest were just songs that all worked well together as they would in any good album.
Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust
It was also included on the 1982 compilation Rare. An different mix erroneously called an ‘Alternate Vocal Take’ was issued on the Sound + Vision box sets in 1989 and 2003, and on the bonus disc of the 30th anniversary reissue of Ziggy Stardust.
The original single mix was included on Re:Call 1 in the 2015 box set Five Years (1969–1973).