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Thursday, July 10, 2014

David Bowie's "Space Oddity" Isolated Bass and Drums

Bowie "Space Oddity" Record Cover image
Here's a fascinating piece of music history. It's the isolated bass and drums from David Bowie's first hit, the classic "Space Oddity."

The song features a completely different lineup from future Bowie albums, and included session drummer Terry Cox, legendary bass player Herbie Flowers (also responsible for the famous bass lines on Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side"), Mick Wayne on lead guitar, and Rick Wakeman on Mellotron (who did play on subsequent Bowie records), was produced by Gus Dudgeon, and engineered by Trident Studios staff engineer Robin Cable.

This was quite a controversial song in its day since the BBC claimed that it poked fun at the British space program and kept it off its playlists until after the return of Apollo 11. Here are some things to listen for:

1. The rhythm section seems to get lost when listening to the full track, as we focus more on the vocal and lyrics, but the playing is very interesting all the same. The bass plays no distinguishable part, and the drums play very free for the verses of the song, almost like something you'd hear in be bop.

2. That said, the drum part plays very straight in the choruses and bridges, with the snare played quite forcefully. Check out the long plate reverb (sounds great) which only appears on the snare.

3. The kick isn't heard much although it's actually played a lot. It's not featured in the mix and is actually mixed down in the track. It's not the kind of song that relies on the power of the kick though.

4. The bass sound is great. but so is the drum sound (except for the kick). The drums are also in mono.

5. Listen through to the end if the video for the ending you don't hear on the record.

You can hear the leakage in the distance as the video begins, but the bass doesn't enter until about 0:23.


1 comment:

uglycustard said...

Be-bop is a good way to explain Herbies bassline,as thats where he came from and did this alot on the "millions" of sessions he did.


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