Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Lulu - The Man Who Sold the World (cover version) Peter Noone - Oh You Pretty Things (cover version)

In 1974 Scottish born singer Lulu released a version of Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World. Lulu is better known as the singer of Shout in 1964 and for acting in the film To Sir with Love in 1967. Latterly she is known for singing with Take That on Relight My Fire, and for at one time being married to Bee Gee Maurice Gibb.

Bowie produced her version of the song as well as contributing saxophone and backing vocals. Mick Ronson was also at the sessions to add some guitar. This song was produced towards the end of Bowie and Ronson’s collaborations so may have been one of the last things they worked on together. The song went to number 3 in the UK charts.

From Uncut magazine in June 2008 Lulu recalled:
"I first met Bowie on tour in the early '70s when he invited me to his concert. And back at the hotel, he said to me, in very heated language, 'I want to make an MF of a record with you. You're a great singer.' I didn't think it would happen, but he followed up two days later. He was uber cool at the time and I just wanted to be led by him. I didn't think 'The Man Who Sold the World' was the greatest song for my voice, but it was such a strong song in itself. In the studio, Bowie kept telling me to smoke more cigarettes, to give my voice a certain quality. We were like the odd couple. Were we ever an item? I'd rather not answer that one, thanks!For the video, people thought he came up with the androgynous look, but that was all mine. It was very Berlin cabaret. We did other songs, too, like 'Watch That Man,' 'Can You Hear Me?' and 'Dodo.' 'The Man Who Sold the World' saved me from a certain niche in my career. If we'd have carried on, it would have been very interesting."

Another David Bowie song covered by an unlikely source is Oh You Pretty Things. (Technically it’s not a cover as it was recorded prior to Bowie’s own version on Hunky Dory).

The song was recorded in late 1970 early 1971 by Peter Noone better known as the lead singer of Herman’s Hermits. As with Lulu’s version of The Man Who Sold the World, Bowie also plays on this song, this time contributing Piano.

While the tune is jaunty enough, the lyrics tell a somewhat darker story of paranoia and schizophrenia. The song when sung by Peter Noone becomes a cheesy, cabaret style oddity.
I don’t think that he really knew the hidden (or not so hidden) meanings in the song.
Having said that, for some strange reason I do like this version, anyway the song peaked at #12 in the UK.