leejohnson's current selection is:
Velvet Goldmine
by David Bowie


Below is probably "the" definitive examination of the circumstances surrounding the absence of "Velvet Goldmine" from the 1972 album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" (not that we were actually aware of its shortage, until well after the record was released - we didn't get a clue about the "new" track until it appeared alongside "Changes" in 1975 as a double B-side for the re-issue of the 1969 hit single "Space Oddity").

Yes, it's Chris O'Leary again, from his blog "Pushing Ahead of the Dame", and he takes us through the history of the track, while only once mentioning the lame and shameless motion picture of the same name ('Brian Slade', my arse):


"Velvet Goldmine"

Those unfamiliar with Bowie (if you're reading this blog, that likely disqualifies you) might assume that "Velvet Goldmine", which Todd Haynes used as the title for his 'glam' fantasia, was an essential track on "Ziggy Stardust". But it's an outtake from the "Ziggy" sessions, finally sneaked out as a B-side a few years later.

"Velvet Goldmine", originally called "He's a Goldmine", had been slated for Ziggy‘s second side until Bowie recorded a new batch of songs in January 1972 to shore up the record. Rather than cutting an obvious dud (cough, "It Ain't Easy"), Bowie gave "Velvet Goldmine" the chop. He said "the lyrics are a little bit too provocative" during a radio interview in February 1972. Really? "Sweet Head", the other great "Ziggy" outtake, likely wasn't fit for public consumption at the time, but "Goldmine", while salacious enough ("you got the width of my tongue", "I had to ravish your capsule, suck you dry"), isn't much worse than, say, "Suffragette City". Some writers have wondered whether Bowie felt the song was too openly gay: if so, that's also odd, since Bowie soon announced his homosexuality to "Melody Maker" and released an undeniably gay single ("John, I'm Only Dancing") a few months later.

Bowie may have axed "Goldmine" because he thought it sounded a bit retrograde compared to the other "Ziggy" tracks. (And the thumping, eight-to-the-bar piano in the chorus does give it a music-hall feel, reminiscent of "Hunky Dory" tracks like "Oh! You Pretty Things".) Still, "Goldmine" has got a moody, minor-key chorus; Ronson's guitar smeared over the verses and culminating in a solo that sounds as if it was recorded underwater; a saucy Bowie vocal over a knotty verse (i.e., the sudden 3/4 bar on "close to my breast"); a wonderfully bizarre 'outro' with massed whistles, hums, laughs and moans; and a lyric filled with lines like "I'll be your king volcano". One of the best tracks from the Ziggy period - cutting it was a blunder. [ More at: http://bowiesongs.wordpress.com/tag/velvet-goldmine/ ]


So "Space Oddity" finally gets to hit No. 1 (for two weeks) in the UK Singles chart on its re-emergence in late 1975 - hurrah. I'm sure that the "discovery" of this previously unmentioned flip side track boosted that ascent no end, but what a shame that the characters 'Major Tom' and 'Ziggy Stardust' were long lost to us by the time that happened. The only US re-release of the A-side (which did not contain today's selection) was in 1973, and that was partnered by its own B-side, "The Man who Sold the World".
1975 - RCA Victor - United Kingdom - Part of a double B-side on the second UK re-issue of the 1969 single "Space Oddity", along with "Changes". Originally recorded during sessions for the album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars", but not included on it (apparently replaced by "Starman" at short notice).
Posted: 5th June 2017
Born in 1954, leaving education by 1972, 'glam' was my thing, "Ziggy" Bowie my hero. I was even the only guy in my town with the haircut (though not the carrot red colouring!). Therefore every seventh selection is a Bowie track.
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