It’s been a cruel few weeks for music fans. David Bowie’s death was, for me, robbed of some of its impact coming so soon on the heels of Lemmy’s. Although I was a fan of Bowie’s work, it was more from a position of admiration than any real kind of emotional connection or visceral appeal (unlike Motörhead). Nonetheless, he made at least two of my favourite albums (Scary Monsters and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, if you must know) as well as co-producing one of my absolute all timers, Lou Reed’s Transformer. And the iconography is undeniable – he was David fucking Bowie.
I wasn’t sure what I could write about him or which release to look at but I’d recently picked up a copy of this late ’60’s curio. It’s something of an oddity which is fitting, more so when considering the sheer variety which characterised his career.
Love You Till Tuesday was conceived as a promotional film by Bowie’s management in 1969 after his first label dropped him. It seems likely that it was meant for some kind of cinema distribution, probably as a supporting short (that used to be a thing). In the end it never surfaced, at least not until this 1984 video release.
Nine songs feature in the 28 minute running time, some drawn from Bowie’s Deram debut album plus new recordings Ching-A-Ling, When I’m Five, The Mask and Space Oddity. Directed by Malcolm J. Thomson (his only directing credit). The music is typical childhood-and-love obsessed English psychedelic pop of the day, with a more polished Syd Barrett flavour.
Visually, this is mostly Bowie plus an occasional minimal cast miming in a parade of ’60s’ fashions, often against a stark white background. That’s “mime” in the sense of “lip synch” but also, at one point, in the full-on Marcel Marceau way of things which makes for an … uhm … fascinating (?) watch on the spoken word piece The Mask.
When I’m Five sees Bowie acting in the slightly cringeworthy manner of an infant to a cloying lyric while Let Me Sleep Beside You is a great pop rock number with a straight forward performance clip complete with prop guitar. Ching-a-Ling features Bowie in backing vocal/rhythm guitar mode and is a pleasant enough piece of psych/folk-pop kitsch, a showcase for Hermione and Hutch (Bowie’s then girlfriend and music partner respectively, presumably under the same management).
The original version of Space Oddity jars a little due to familiarity with the classic version. The music production is rougher and rootsier, there’s a flute solo, and the visuals are almost cynically “groovy” with sexy spacebirds and that. Still it’s interesting and is the highlight here, worth checking out by dint of originality if nothing else.
Although of interest largely as a curiosity, Love You Till Tuesday does point towards Bowie’s future groundbreaking tendencies. I’m not aware of another project quite like this one from the period, and the “video album” – which is essentially what this is – was still more than a decade away.