New album of rare David Bowie demos to be released

'The Mercury Demos' features 10 early recordings, captured live in Bowie’s apartment in the spring of 1969
David Bowie Mercury Demos cover art

A new posthumous David Bowie record, The Mercury Demos, is set for release on 28 June 2019 via Parlophone. The 10-track effort will feature previously unreleased Bowie recordings.

The Mercury Demos are 10 early recordings, captured live in one take to a Revox reel-to-reel tape machine in Bowie’s apartment in the spring of 1969, with accompaniment from John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson on guitar and vocals. The recording was requested by Mercury Records A&R man Calvin Mark, who wanted the tracks to send to his boss Bob Reno. Both Calvin and Bob are referenced during the 41-minute recording, and the demos were key in securing Bowie’s recording deal with Mercury Records.

A press release further describes the album: “The version of ‘Space Oddity’ from The Mercury Demos, originally released with edits on the Sound & Vision boxed set, is presented here in its true context for the first time. The other nine recordings on the album are all previously unreleased. In addition to the Bowie originals, the session also includes the Roger Bunn composition ‘Life Is a Circus’ (which features in an earlier demo version on the Clareville Grove Demos set) and the Lesley Duncan composition ‘Love Song,’ later recorded by Elton John for his Tumbleweed Connection album. Bowie’s own ‘Conversation Piece’ is announced as a new song and ‘Janine’ features a short, 19-second section sung to the melody of The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude.’”

The Mercury Demos set will come in a replica of the original tape box and will feature one vinyl LP, a print, and two photo contact sheets and sleeve notes by Mark Adams. The labels of the LP feature the same EMIDISC acetate styling as Spying Through A Keyhole and Clareville Grove Demos with the song titles in David’s own handwriting.