Absolute Beginners (David Bowie song)

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"Absolute Beginners"
Single by David Bowie
from the album Absolute Beginners: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
B-side Absolute Beginners (Dub Mix)
Released March 1986
Format 7"/12" single, 3"/5" CD single, Digital download
Recorded Abbey Road Studios, London, June 1985
Genre Rock
Length 8:03 (full-length album version)
5:36 (single version)
Label Virgin
VS838
Writer(s) David Bowie
Producer(s) David Bowie, Alan Winstanley, Clive Langer
David Bowie singles chronology
"Dancing in the Street"
(1985)
"Absolute Beginners"
(1986)
"Underground"
(1986)

"Absolute Beginners" was the theme tune to the film of the same name (itself an adaptation of the book Absolute Beginners), composed and performed by David Bowie.

Bowie was good friends with the film's director, Julien Temple (who had worked with him in 1984 on the Jazzin' for Blue Jean short film), and landed both the supporting role of Vendice Partners, and the deal to record the theme tune.

The sessions, at Abbey Road Studios, were set up in a novel way, with a group of session musicians all receiving a card to work at the studio with "Mr X", who turned out to be Bowie. The sessions were completed rapidly, but the song was delayed due to the problems with completing the film. Virgin wanted the release to tie in with the film's opening. Shortly after the sessions wrapped, Mick Jagger flew in to record "Dancing in the Street", which used many of the same musicians. The song fused 1950s-style doo-wop[citation needed] with Bowie's 1980s sound.

The single reached No. 2 in the UK charts, and No. 53 in America. Bowie has since performed it live on his Glass Spider and 2000 tours.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks by David Bowie

3" CD: Virgin / CDT 20 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Absolute Beginners" - 8:03
  2. "Absolute Beginners (Dub Mix)" - 5:40

CD: Virgin / CDF 20 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Absolute Beginners" - 8:03
  2. "Absolute Beginners (Dub Mix)" - 5:40

7": Virgin / VS 838 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Absolute Beginners" – 5:36
  2. "Absolute Beginners (Dub Mix)" – 5:42

12": Virgin / VSG 838–12 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Absolute Beginners (Full Length Version)" – 8:00
  2. "Absolute Beginners (Dub Mix)" – 5:42
  • issued in a gatefold sleeve

12": EMI America / SPRO 9623 (US)[edit]

  1. "Absolute Beginners (Edited Version)" – 4:46
  2. "Absolute Beginners (Full Length Version)" – 8:00
  • includes exclusive "edited version"

Download: EMI / iVS 838 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Absolute Beginners" – 5:36
  2. "Absolute Beginners (Full Length Version)" – 8:00
  3. "Absolute Beginners (Dub Mix)" – 5:42

Download: Amazon.com (US)[edit]

  1. "Absolute Beginners" – 5:37
  2. "Absolute Beginners (Full Length Version)" – 8:03
  3. "Absolute Beginners (Dub Mix)" – 5:39
  4. "That's Motivation" - 4:14
  5. "Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)" - 3:13
  • Original release date (of E.P. download with added tracks 4 and 5): 28 May 2007

Music video[edit]

Julian Temple shot the music video, which echoed the 1950s style of the movie. The video was a homage to an old British advert for Strand cigarettes. The ill-fated advertising tagline "You're never alone with a Strand." is quoted by Partners in the film. The video also uses footage from the film.

Production credits[edit]

Gil Evans sings the refrain of the song in the film.

Live versions[edit]

  • The song was performed live during David Bowie's 1987 Glass Spider Tour.
  • A live version recorded at BBC Radio Theatre, London, on 27 June 2000 was released on the bonus disc accompanying the first release of Bowie at the Beeb in 2000.

Other releases[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart Position
UK Singles Chart 2
Canada Singles Chart 3
Norway Singles Chart 4
US Mainstream Rock Tracks 9
US Billboard Hot 100 53

References[edit]

Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5

External links[edit]