Oh! You Pretty Things
|"Oh! You Pretty Things"|
|Song by David Bowie from the album Hunky Dory|
|Released||17 December 1971|
|Recorded||Trident Studios, London, early summer 1971|
|Producer||Ken Scott, David Bowie|
|Hunky Dory track listing|
19 second sample from David Bowie's "Oh! You Pretty Things".
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"Oh! You Pretty Things" is a song written by David Bowie in 1971 for the album Hunky Dory. It opens with only piano and Bowie's vocal, before entering the catchy refrain. The simple piano style is often compared to The Beatles' "Martha My Dear". Thematically, the song has been seen as reflecting the influence of occultist Aleister Crowley and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and heralding "the impending obsolescence of the human race in favour of an alliance between arriving aliens and the youth of the present society".
The song was first released by Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits, in a single on which Bowie played piano. It became a #12 hit in mid-1971. Noone replaced Bowie's line "The Earth is a bitch" with "The Earth is a beast", in a performance that NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray opined to be "one of rock and roll's most outstanding examples of a singer failing to achieve any degree of empathy whatsoever with the mood and content of a lyric".
- David Bowie: lead vocals, piano
- Mick Ronson: backing vocals, string arrangement
- Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
- Woody Woodmansey: drums
- Bowie played the song at the BBC show Johnny Walker Lunchtime Show on 22 May 1972. This was broadcast in early June the same year and in 2000 was released on the album Bowie at the Beeb; it was also issued as a promo single in France in 2000.
- A live version recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, on 3 July 1973 was released on the album Ziggy Stardust - The Motion Picture in 1983. This version of the song was a part of a medley with "Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud" and "All the Young Dudes".
- It appeared on the compilations:
- It was also recorded on 8 February 1972 for The Old Grey Whistle Test on the BBC, though the performance was not broadcast until over 10 years later. This performance is available on the Best of Bowie DVD. An outtake from the same session, in which Bowie stumbles over the lines and gets them wrong on several occasions, is hidden among easter eggs on the same Best of Bowie DVD.
- Peter Noone – Single (1971)
- Harvey Danger – Live version released on the 2006 EP Little Round Mirrors
- Seu Jorge – Portuguese version for the 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
- 67 Special – The Devil May Care (2007)
- Au Revoir Simone – Life Beyond Mars: Bowie Covered (2008)
- David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: p.115
- Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: pp.40-41
- David Sheppard (2007). "Wishful Beginnings", MOJO 60 Years of Bowie: p.24
- Carr & Murray (1981): p.117
- Harvey, Michael (2007-01-19). "The Old Gray Whistle Test - 8 February 1972". The Ziggy Stardust Companion. Retrieved 2011-01-29.