The title track from the ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ album was originally released by Bowie in 1970, but it was Lulu’s version of the song that entered into the public’s consciousness in 1974 when she scored a #3 hit in the UK.
Bowie had first encountered Lulu at 1970’s Disc & Music Echo Awards ceremony, and after meeting again after the final Ziggy show, Lulu was invited to the “Last Supper” at the Cafe Royal on London’s Regent Street. By June 1973 she was another of Bowie’s girlfriends. Lulu hadn’t had a hit single since 1969’s ‘Boom Bang-A-Bang’ and her career was on the slide, so Bowie’s patronage came as a welcome boost.
“We started talking about the possibility of working together,” Bowie later explained. “I was keen to get something fixed up, because I really have always thought that Lulu has incredible potential as a rock singer. I didn’t think this potential had been fully realised … we decided on ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ as being most suitable.”
Lulu recorded the song during the Pin Ups sessions at the Chateau d’Herouville on 16 July 1973. Bowie recorded saxophone overdubs and later mixed the song during the Diamond Dogs sessions at Olympic Studios in London.
“I used the Pin Ups line-up to back her, including Ronson and drummer Aynsley Dunbar, and played the sax section on overdubs. I still have a very soft spot for that version, though to have the same song covered by both Lulu and Nirvana still bemuses me to this day.” he recalled in 2002.
The single was backed with Lulu’s cover of ‘Watch That Man’ from the Aladdin Sane album. There are rumours of a longer edit, possibly with a heavier vocal contribution from Bowie, and the pair also recorded unreleased versions of ‘Dodo’ and ‘Can You Hear Me’.