Baby, you can own two hearts Baby, don't try to tear me apart Someone's got to go and I won't, I won't That's a promise Baby, you can't fool around Baby, can't turn me upside down Someone's got to go and I won't, I won't That's a promise It's just a matter of time before you call him on the phone Tell him please, please leave him alone Please leave him alone It's just a matter of time, call him on the phone Tell him please, please leave him alone Please leave him alone Baby, you've got me used Baby, Can't you be like you? Someone's got to go and I won't, I won't That's a promise (Ad lib to end)
‘Baby That’s A Promise’ was recorded with The Lower Third as a demo at R.G. Jones’ Oak Studios in Morden, Surrey, on 31st August 1965, and hence a few days after the release of Bowie’s third single ‘You’ve Got A Habit of Leaving’. By then, Bowie has already moved on with promotional team as a result of frequent disagreements with Shelmond Talmy in the course of the production of ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ and found Ralph Horton who would play a supportive role in the following months and years.
After the management change Horton enabled David and The Lower Third to record two demos for four hours at the above-mentioned studio: ‘Baby That’s A Promise’ and ‘Silly Boy Blue’. The latter will be discussed later on in this blog (and in full detail) as the song features on Bowie’s first album David Bowie, released in 1967. ‘Silly Boy Blue’ is probably one of the finest pieces he has written in his early career prior to ‘Space Oddity’.
However, ‘Baby That’s A Promise’ is a promising demo from young David Jones (not yet Bowie – the official name change was announced just a couple of weeks later). It is clearly influenced by rhythms of The Kinks and The Small Faces, a mod-band David was acquainted with at the time. The song is furthermore somewhat influenced by the Motown sound. Bowie’s vocals are R&B-flavoured and can be located somewhere between P.J. Proby and Marvin Gaye. Bowie would reprise this certain type of vocal style in the mid-70s on his albums Young Americans and Station To Station. It sort of stands out as the best demo untel then in comparison the other rather frail demos analysed earlier.
On 2 November 1965 David Bowie (by then officially named Bowie) together with The Lower Third used ‘Baby That’s A Promise’ along with two other demos, ‘Out Of Sight’ and ‘Chim Chim Cheree’, for a BBC band contest. The band had to pass an audition in order to be broadcast on one of the BBC’s pop programmes. It is not certain whether Bowie and The Lower Third have used the demo from 31 August or whether they have re-recorded the song some time later. The authors Doggett and Pegg suggests that this song was demoed in October 1965. In any case, the band did not pass the audition and hence were not broadcast on television. The BBC jury explains their reasoning by describing David’s singing as “a cockney type but not outstanding. A singer devoid of personality. Sings wrong notes and out of tune.”
Often wrongly titled ‘Baby’ or simply ‘That’s A Promise’, the demo did not appear on any official record until today. However, somehow a scratchy copy was obtained which has since been featured on a series of unofficial bootlegs.
- David Jones (vocals, guitar, saxophone)
- Dennis Taylor (guitar)
- Graham Rivens (bass)
- Phil Lancaster (drums)
- Produced by Shel Talmy