Category Archives: 1963-65: Early Songs

Take My Tip


 

manish 1

‘Take My Tip’ – Single Version (1965)

Lyrics

You think you're gonna please her
So you walk right up and tease her
But she walks right on by
You're scared to walk beside her
'Cause you're playing with the spider who possess the sky
She got the green backs, my-oh-my
You gotta act tall, think big, if you wanna make a mark in her book
Gotta get ahead, get a car, fancy clothes
Or she'll throw you right off her hook
Here's the news- you are but one fish in her back garden scene
Gonna make like a shark to be free
Something bad on your mind
Take my tip- get on out
Take my tip- get on out

You can't give all you got to take something back
Before she'll put you right up on her rack
With some others in mind
Take my tip- get on out
Take my tip- get on out

You think you're gonna please her
So you walk right up and tease her
But she walks right on by
You're scared to walk beside her
'Cause you're playing with the tiger who possess the sky
She got the green backs, my-oh-my
You gotta act tall, think big, if you wanna make a mark in her book
Gotta get ahead, get a car, fancy clothes
Or she'll throw you right off her hook
Here's the news- you are but one fish in her back garden scene
Gonna make like a shark to be free
Something bad on your mind
Get it off, take my tip
Get it off, take my tip

You can't give all you have to take something back
Before she'll put you right up on the rack
With some others in mind
Take my tip- get on out
Take my tip- get on out
Take my tip- get on out
Take my tip- get on out

Take My Tip B

Nerds gather around, here’s some Bowie trivia: ‘Take My Tip’, the B-side to the single ‘I Pity The Fool’ (released 5th March 1965 under the EMI Parlophone label), has found its mark in Bowie history for two reasons. First, the song is the first-ever published song which was written and composed by young David Bowie (aka David Jones). Second, ‘Take My Tip’ was also the first-ever Bowie song to be covered: even before The Manish Boys began recording the single in January 1965 Shel Talmy, the band’s producer, had already envisaged this song to be recorded by American actor Kenny Miller who wanted to make it big in the UK pop scene. ‘Take My Tip’ would become the B-side of his single ‘Restless’ which was recorded in February 1965.

Like ‘I Pity The Fool’ the B-Side features a nice riff from guest guitarist Jimmy Page. But unlike ‘I Pity The Fool’ the B-Side did not lean on American soul music, but rather on American jazzy types such as John Hendricks, Oscar Brown or even the British singer Georgia Fame. ‘Take My Tip’ starts off quite originally with a clunky chord sequence which was only driven by the lyrics that actually become vivid as the song moves on.

Due to time constraints, both songs, ‘I Pity The Fool’ and ‘Take My Tip’, were recorded only twice on 15th January. Hence, for both songs two versions exist. Funnily, in one version of ‘Take My Tip’ Bowie makes a mistake – but let’s hear it from organist Bob Solly who told Record Collector in 2000 the following:

Davie fluffs his own line on that song. What should have been “spider who possesses the sky” came out as “bider who possesses the sky”! It didn’t really matter; the lyrics were secondary in those days.

For the official release, however, the fluffed version was chosen. The ‘flawless’ demo version which first appeared on the Early On compilation in 1991 can be heard here:

‘Take My Tip’ – Alternate Take

image-8-for-david-bowie-at-65-gallery-940469019

——

Discography

Single Version:

  • Vinyl I Pity The Fool (A-Side) / Take My Tip (B-Side) 3/1965
  • Vinyl The Manish Boys / Davy Jones & The Lower 3rd EP 1979
  • Vinyl Bowie 1965! EP 2013

Alternate Vocal:

  • CD Early On (1964-1966) 1991

——

Musicians

  • Davie Jones (vocal, alto saxophone)
  • Paul Rodriguez (tenor saxophone, trumpet)
  • Woolf Byrne (baritone saxophone)
  • Johnny Flux (lead guitar)
  • Bob Solly (keyboards)
  • John Watson (bass)
  • Mick White (drums)
  • Jimmy Page (lead guitar)
  • Produced by Shel Talmy

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I Pity The Fool


mb 3

Lyrics (Malone)

Well, I pity the fool
I said I pity the fool
You know I pity the fool
I said I pity the fool
She'll break your heart one day
Then she'll laugh if she walks away
Yeah, I pity the fool

Well, look at the people
Guess you wonder what to do
They're just standing there
Watching you making a fool out of me

Ah, look at the people
Bet you wonder what to do
Well, they're just standing there
Watching you making a fool out of me

Yeah, I pity the fool
I said I pity the fool
Ooh, I pity the fool
Well, I said I pity the fool
She'll break your heart one day
Then she'll laugh as you walk away
Well, I pity the fool

Well, look at the people
Guess you wonder what to do
They're just standing there
Watching you making a fool out of me

Yeah, look at the people
Bet you wonder what to do
They're just standing there
Watching you making a fool out of me

I pity the fool
I pity the fool that falls in love with you
Oh, I pity the fool
I pity the fool

I Pity The Fool Single A

The beginning of the year 1965 marked a significant step in the career of the young and ambitious David Jones and his band, the Manish Boys. Due to their supporting acts for the Kinks in December 1964, Leslie Conn brought them in contact with 24-year old American record producer Shel Talmy who was the man behind The Kinks’ and many other aspiring bands’ records (such as The Who, The Bachelors, and Manfred Mann).

Upon their first meeting Talmy liked David right from the start and was of the opinion that he was “ahead of the game”. The result was that David and the Manish Boys had their first actual deal to produce a single, this time with EMI Parlophone. Talmy made them a promising offer they just couldn’t refuse: the A-Side being ‘I Pity The Fool’, a classic charting hit from 1961. ‘Take My Tip’ was designated to be on the B-Side – David’s first self-written song to appear on a single.

‘I Pity The Fool’ was chosen by Shel Talmy himself to be on that single. Later on, the Manish Boys’ organist Bob Solly was quite sure that they never would have been allowed to record at all if it wasn’t for Talmy’s pick. He added: “We thought it was OK because it incorporated the saxes and was what we’d call a ‘builder’.”

A long-haired Bowie

The song itself was a cover version of the same Bobby “Blue” Bland soul hit (the songwriting being credited to Deadric Malone which was a pseudonym for Duke Records owner Don Robey), a piece of black popular music and a high charting hit in the US R&B charts in 1961. There were some British R&B bands that leaned on black American soul hits during the mid-60s, among those most successful were The Animals and The Rolling Stones with their hit ‘Little Red Rooster’. The 1961 version of ‘I Pity The Fool’ – probably the biggest hit of Bobby „Blue“ Bland’s career – is sung with such an impudence showing the singer’s contempt and empathy for the next “fool” whose heart would be broken one day by this man-eating kind of woman he has fallen for.

The recordings for ‘I Pity The Fool’ and ‘Take My Tip’ took place at 7pm on 15th January 1965 at the IBC Studios, 35 Portland Place. Before the recordings, around 2.30pm that day David had a short meeting with Shel Talmy at 2i’s Coffee Bar where they rehearsed the songs. During that occasion Talmy introduced him to then-unknown Jimmy Page who listened to the band rehearsals. Page was eventually scheduled to contribute to ‘I Pity The Fool’ as lead guitarist and also by using his new fuzzbox for the solo*. “He was widely excited about it”, Bowie remembered in 1997.

Due to time constraints Shel Talmy only allowed two recordings for each song. This ist he reason why there exist two marginally different versions of ‚I Pity The Fool’ and ‚Take My Tip’. Two band members, Bob Solly and Paul Rodriguez, were not satisfied with the recordings at all. Comparing their version to Bland’s 1961 hit, Rodriguez found that Talmy “ignored some of the best bits […] which was tragic, and we thought the whole bass riff was crude in the extreme. It had a counter-riff which Shel destroyed and it sounded crude and tasteless compared to the original.”

However, the recording was completed and the single scheduled for release on 5th March 1965. The Manish Boys talked Conn out of giving David an individual credit for the single. Instead the single is credited officially only to The Manish Boys – a reason leading to David’s departure from this band later on.

In my opinion, 18-year-old David Bowie made quite a good job on this one. ‘I Pity The Fool’ would not be the last time when he got into black popular music: he would return to the black Philly soul (plastic soul) in his Young Americans album about ten years later. I think this song shows his soulful skills and also demonstrates how he interpreted Bland’s 1961 hit with a little twist. He sings the slow passages around “Well, I pity the fool” in such a nice arrogant and howling way before he starts screaming out “Well, look at people.” I immediately liked this song when I first heard it. It’s straight-up soul.

In order to promote the single David picked up on a publicity scam that he had already begun during November 1964 when he had created the imaginary ‘Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Long-Haired Men’ and made it to a funny TV interview on the Tonight show on 12th November. Now he worked out a scam to raise attention as he said to the Daily Mirror he wasn’t allowed to be invited to the show Gadzooks! It’s All Happening because of his long hair. On the day of the release of ‘I Pity The Fool’ the Manish Boys were photographed in front of the BBC Television centre by the Daily Mirror. The Manish Boys gave a performance on Gadzooks!. David was also interviewed about the single on Ready, Steady, Go!. Unfortunately, neither a video nor the audio tape of the interview have survived over the years.

As mentioned before, two versions of this song exist, the original single version and a demo version. The latter has a somewhat different intonation than the single version. Here you can compare these two versions:

‘I Pity The Fool’ – Single Version (1965)

‘I Pity The Fool’ – Alternate Take (1965)

* During the recording sessions Jimmy Page actually inspired Bowie to use a certain guitar riff which he himself didn’t have a use for yet. Bowie would repeat that riff in 1970 for ‘The Supermen’ on his third album The Man Who Sold The World and in 1997 for ‘Dead Man Walking’ on Earthling. 

——

Discography

Single Version:

  • Vinyl I Pity The Fool (A-Side) / Take My Tip (B-Side) 3/1965
  • Vinyl The Manish Boys / Davy Jones & The Lower 3rd EP 1979
  • Vinyl Bowie 1965! EP 2013

Alternate Take:

  • CD Early On (1964-1966) 1991

——

Musicians

  • Davie Jones (vocal, alto saxophone)
  • Paul Rodriguez (tenor saxophone, trumpet)
  • Woolf Byrne (baritone saxophone)
  • Johnny Flux (lead guitar)
  • Bob Solly (keyboards)
  • John Watson (bass)
  • Mick White (drums)
  • Jimmy Page (lead guitar)
  • Produced by Shel Talmy

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Hello Stranger / Duke Of Earl / Love Is Strange


The Manish Boys

Nearly four months had passed since the release of ‘Liza Jane’. Davie Jones had by then already joined his next band, the Manish Boys, a new R&B band in London that was aspiring to make it to stardom. Bowie had left the King Bees behind on 27th July 1964 following an unsuccessful live broadcast of their performance of ‘Liza Jane’ on the show Beat Room that failed to raise any interest in that song.

After a couple of live performances during the summer Davie Jones and the Manish Boys have used their chance to meet with Decca A&R man Mike Smith on 25th September before their concert at the Willow Rooms in Romford, Essex, on that same day. The meeting with Mike Smith was the basis for their chance to record three songs at Regent Sounds Studios during an evening session on 6th October. These songs were part of the Manish Boys’ live repertoire.

1) ‘Hello Stranger’ (Barbara Lewis): This song was initially planned as the Manish Boys’ debut single. Even the November edition of Beat 64 magazine – one month after the recording – stated that ‘Hello Stranger’ would be the bands’ first single.

2) ‘Duke of Earl’ (Gene Chandler)

3) ‘Love Is Strange’ (Mickey & Silvia)

However, the recordings – actually recorded with the purpose to become singles – proved unsuccessful due to the two conflicting vocal styles of Davie Jones and bassist John Fletcher. Even Mike Smith made attempts to harmonise these two vocals with a single microphone – but without success. Another recording session was scheduled on 12th October to give the Manish Boys another chance to record the three songs again. During that session the band was so insecure that ‘Love Is Strange’ was apparently not even attempted to be recorded. Hence, the deal was off.

It is not certain whether some acetates of these recordings still exist today. What is known is that Decca has not retained a copy of the master tape.

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Louie, Louie Go Home


VARIOUS

‘Louie, Louie Go Home’ – Single Version (1964)

Lyrics (Revere/Lindsay)

Well, I- well, I left my wife and child
[Louie, go back home]
Yeah, my conscience is about to drive me wild, yeah
[Louie, go back home]
A little voice inside my head goes on and on
[Louie, go back home]
It says "Louie, Louie, Louie
You better come back home"

Well I, well I thought "I make it by myself", yeah
[Louie, go back home]
Oh, but my baby, she's got my heart a-upon the shelve
[Louie, go back home]
Well I, well I can still hear her moaning
[Louie, go back home]
They're crying "Louie, Louie, Louie
You better go back home"

You better go back home, yeah
You better go back home, yeah
You better go back home
Oh yeah, you better go back home

You better go back a-ho a-ho a-home, a-home yeah yeah
Home-a-home-a-home
Just a-go back a-home a-home a-home
Driving home, yeah, home

Just a little bit louder now
[Just a little bit louder]
Just a little bit louder now
[Just a little bit louder]
Just a little bit louder
[Just a little bit louder]
Well, I'm going home
[Just a little bit louder]
Well, I'm a-going home, yeah
Ooh, I'm a-gonna back, back, back, back, back to my home
Yeah home
Home sweet home
I'm a-gonna back home, ooh

I'm going home, yeah
I'm going home, yeah
I'm going home, yeah
I'm going home, yeah
Back to my baby
Back to where they need me

Liza Jane Single B

‘Louie, Louie Go Home’ was recorded during the same 7-hour session when ‘Liza Jane’ was recorded and was originally scheduled as the A-side of Bowie’s first single. It is a cover version of ‘Louie Go Home’ by Paul Revere & The Raiders, also released in 1964. Davie Jones & The King Bees surprisingly had the opportunity to be the first to get that brand new track – most likely via good business connections of their producer Leslie Conn.

At that time, The Raiders were fairly well known in the U.S., but they hadn’t made a name in the UK yet. The Raiders version itself, a New Orleans style R&B-piece, was some kind of cover of the commercially successful Kingsmen song ‘Louie Louie’ which entered the market shelves roughly around the same time. The Raiders version is based on the piano, and it works well in that way. Unfortunately, the same cannot necessarily be said about the King Bees version.

kingbees

While the A-Side ‘Liza Jane’ can be stylistically rather attributed to the style of the Rolling Stones, the musical influence of ‘Louie, Louie Go Home’ seems to stem more from the Beatles. This also fits with the nature of the song, a question-and-answer piece – sometimes quiet, sometimes loud – adjusted at various points to shake up the listening audience.

But the Davie Jones and the King Bees planned that song without the piano, and it thus ‘Louie, Louie Go Home’ sounds somehow cumbersome – especially because of the screamy and somewhat fragile vocals of young Davie Jones whose lead vocals, in my opinion, somehow don’t manage to make the song effective.

Bowie King Bees 5

——

Discography

  • Vinyl Liza Jane (A-Side) / Louie, Louie Go Home (B-Side) 6/1964
  • CD Early On (1964-1966) 1991

——

Musicians

  • Davie Jones (vocal, tenor sax)
  • George Underwood (rhythm guitar, harmonica, vocal)
  • Roger Bluck (lead guitar)
  • Dave Howard (bass)
  • Robert Allen (drums)
  • Produced by Leslie Conn

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Liza Jane


Bowie King Bees 1

‘Liza Jane’ – Single Version (1964) 

Lyrics (Conn)

Well, I got a girl that's so good to me
[Oh, little Liza]
Well, now she ain't more than five foot three
[Oh, little Liza]
Well, this little girl is so good to me
[Oh, little Liza]
Yeah, this little girl's nearly half of me
[Oh, little Liza]

Little Liza Jane

I got a girl, duh-duh-goo-to-duh
[Oh, little Liza]
Yeah, this little girl turn me upside down
[Oh, little Liza]
Well, all of the little girls that I had
[Oh, little Liza]
You know this little girl drives me to despair
[Oh, little Liza]

Little Liza Jane

Yeah, I got a girl who loves me true
[Oh, little Liza]
Now she ain't more than five foot two, yeah
[Oh, little Liza]
You know this little girl is so good for me, yeah
[Oh, little Liza]
You know this little girl's nearly half of me
[Oh, little Liza]

Little Liza Jane

Oh yeah, I love her
Little Liza Jane
Well, I'm coming back to me love
'Cause she's driving insane
When will I meet her

Liza Jane Single A

Although ‘I Never Dreamed’ was Bowie’s first-ever known studio recording, ‘Liza Jane’ was his first single (B-Side: ‘Louie, Louie Go Home’). Recorded during a 7-hour session at Decca studios and published on 5th June 1964 ‘Liza Jane’ was also the first single from his band The King Bees, whose member as a lead singer he became in January 1964. Despite of the ill-fated recording of ‘I Never Dreamed’ Davie Jones’ (how David called himself in his new band) then-manager Leslie Conn had managed to sign a deal for a single with Decca Records label Vocalion Pop.

‚Liza Jane’ is based on a frequently-covered “old Negro spiritual”, as band member and Bowie friend George Underwood called ‘Little Liza Jane’ which was written in 1916 by Countess Ada de Lachau. The 1964 version however had little in common with the spiritual version and was rather inspired by R&B versions of that song as for example the famous version of Huey Smith’s ‘Little Liza Jane’ in 1956. According to Underwood it took Bowie only 15 minutes to turn the Huey Smith version into the version that would be released in 1964. Originally he had scheduled ‚Liza Jane’ as the B-Side of the single.

Bowie’s vocals on ‘Liza Jane’ hint to a heavy influence by the Rolling Stones, who were, in turn, also heavily influenced by American electric blues. The song is recorded far too loud, and the lyrics cannot be considered a masterpiece of songwriting („I got a girl, duh-duh-goo-to-duh“). Furthermore, the repetitive calling of “Ohhh Little LI-za” has the potential to annoy some sensible listener.

Leslie Conn somehow managed to claim the songwriting credits – though his later comments made it quite apparent that the lyrics of ‘Liza Jane’ were created in collaboration with the band. The following comment he made to Mojo in 2008 sort of disqualified him as trustworthy: „It was based on a six-bar blues. I was very good at lyrics as well. (…) I can’t remember why it was called Liza Jane, it may have been after a girl he was taking out at the time.”

Bowie King Bees 6

‘Liza Jane’ which was can actually be described as an enjoyable little song. You just have to imagine swinging London in 1964: the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the vividly rising Mod scene – there were all these young and aspiring bands that stirred up teenagers and founded the basis for the rising mod scene in London’s Soho. It is only understandable that young Davie Jones wanted to get involved in that scene. At this point, he had already proven himself as a highly ambitious, hardworking musician/songwriter who wouldn’t ever be satisfied with the status quo. By 1964 Davie Jones had already left two bands, namely the Kon-rads and the Hooker Brothers, to follow his interest in broadening his knowledge about different styles of music.

But saying that ‘Liza Jane’ is a bad debut would be inappropriate and far from the truth. Indeed, the song is naively written/composed, but it is still quite ‘catchy’. Surely, while ‚Liza Jane’ has never reached a large audience at that time, it must have been quite a corker in some nightclub in Soho at that time. But as with almost all of Bowie’s musical attempts in the ’60s, ‘Liza Jane’ was not a commercial success. Despite a dedicated promotion on television shows such as Juke Box Jury, The Beat Room or Ready Steady Go! the single failed to enter the charts.

After Leslie Conn and Bowie parted ways, Conn had moved to Mallorca. One day, he recalled in 1997, he phoned his mother who asked him what she should be doing with the many ‘Liza Jane’ disks that were stored in the garage. He recommended her to throw them away. Not the best move ever from today’s perspective: nowadays original ‘Liza Jane’ LPs from 1964 are being sold for hefty 4-digit sums.

Bowie King Bees 4

The official press release from the press room of the Dick James Organization in May 1964 reads as follows:

Pop Music isn’t all affluence. Just ask new seventeen year old recording star Davie Jones. Time was (two months ago, in fact) when he and his group were almost on their uppers. No money, bad equipment. Then Davie had a brainwave. “I had been reading a lot in the papers about John Bloom,” says Davie. “So I put pen to paper and wrote him a letter.” David told Bloom that he had the chance of backing one of the most talented and up-and-coming groups on the pop scene. All he had to do was advance the several hundred pounds it requires to outfit a pop group with the best equipment.

Davie didn’t get the money, but he did get a telegram next day from John Bloom giving the phone number of Artist’s Manager Leslie Conn. Davie got in touch, he was rewarded with a booking at Bloom’s Wedding Anniversary Party. “We were a dismal failure”, recalls Davie. “It was a dinner dress affair and we turned up in jeans and sweat shirts and played our usual brand of rhythm and blues. It didn’t go down too well. Still we’ll know better next time.

However, all’s well that ends well. Leslie Conn liked the earthy type of music the group played, arranged an audition with Decca Records which resulted in a contract and the first release by David Jones with the King-Bees. “Liza Jane”, released by Decca (Vocalian 9221) on June 5th.

DAVIE JONES WITH THE KING-BEES

MET AT BARBERS

Davie Jones met up with his four member backing group the King-Bees when he visited his local barber shop in Bromley. In between clips he got chatting to the four lads, also there to be sheared, about their musical interests, and before you could say “Short back and sides”, they decided to join forces.

The group specialise in hard-driving, uncompromising R & B, a brand of music that has won for them a dedicated following in the London area, a following which should soon be spreading throughout the length and breadth of England on the strength of their first disc.

“LIZA JANE”, is a beaty, action packed disc which features the direct no-holds-barred Davie Jones vocal delivery. The King-Bees supply a hard core, R & B backing and the whole thing is crowned by a catchy chorus featuring the line “Little Liza Jane”.

DAVIE JONES


Seventeen years old, fair haired Davie first got interested in pop music when he was ten. His father’s secretary (Davie’s father in P.R.O. for Dr. Barnardo’s homes) who had previously worked for a disc company, sent Davie a ‘Demo’ copy of a new Little Richard disc. As the phrase goes, Davie was “knocked out”, and when he had scraped together a few pounds of his pocket money, bought a plastic saxophone. Eventually he progressed on to the real thing. Lessons were the next step. “My idol on saxophone has always been Ronnie Ross”, says Davie, “So I looked up his name up in the phone book and asked him if he would give me lessons.” Ross agreed, but after Davie played him a few bars Ross’s comment was: “Right now we can start working on you, that was bloody awful!” Davie gave up his music to take his G.C.E. at 15, then left school and joined an advertising agency as a commercial artist, where he still works.

When he left school Davie was able to concentrated on his music again, this time mainly as a vocalist, playing dance halls and clubs in and around the Bromley area. Then came the hair-cut and the letter to John Bloom…

Davie’s favourite vocalists are Little Richard, Bob Dylan and John Lee Hooker. Apart from the saxophone he also plays the guitar. He dislikes Adams apples, and lists as his interests Baseball, American Football and collecting Boots. A handsome six footer with a warm and engaging personality, Davie Jones has all it takes to get to the show business heights, including… talent.

Although Bowie’s next band, The Manish Boys, continued to play ‘Liza Jane’ during some of their live performances, the song went into oblivion – failing to raise anyone’s interest in the single or the lead singer – and never entered Bowie’s live repertoire again for a couple of decades.

Bowie 2004

Until 6th June 2004, just one day after ‚Liza Jane’s’ 40th anniversary. Then-58-year-old Bowie was just performing on the last concert event of his Reality Tour in the US (only a few performances should follow until Bowie finally cancelled off the entire tour due to health reasons). On that day Bowie played ‘Liza Jane’, a song which he called “absolutely dreadful” and “excruciating”, much to the (obvious) delight of his audience. George Underwood commented on Bowie’s 2004 version in an issue of the Mojo magazine 2008: “He did a version of it. But I know he hates the song. When he finished, he said, ‘I hope that’s the last time I ever have to play it’.“ On that day in 2004 Bowie played the song in a style similar to the Delta blues of John Lee Hooker and Lead Belly. The live version can be heard here:

‘Liza Jane’ – Reality Tour: Holmdel, New Jersey (6th June 2004)

An almost similar version can be found on Bowie’s Toy album which miraculously leaked onto the Internet in March 2011. The album contains Bowie’s recordings when he revisited some of his older songs in 2000. ‘Liza Jane’ can be found here in a much longer version (4’47″). It sounds a bit more relaxed and balanced than the original screamy version of June 1964.

‘Liza Jane’ – Toy, unreleased (ca. 2000/01)

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Discography

Single Version:

  • Vinyl Liza Jane (A-Side) / Louie, Louie Go Home (B-Side) 6/1964
  • CD Early On (1964-1966) 1991

Delta Blues Version:

  • Toy Sessions unreleased

——

Musicians

  • Davie Jones (vocal, tenor sax)
  • George Underwood (rhythm guitar, harmonica, vocal)
  • Roger Bluck (lead guitar)
  • Dave Howard (bass)
  • Robert Allen (drums)
  • Produced by Leslie Conn

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I Never Dreamed


The Konrads David Bowie David Jones Lyrics (written by Alan Dodds; remembered by Roger Ferris in August 2013)

I never dreamed

That I’d fall in love with you

I never dreamed

That your eyes could be so blue

 

Till I looked your way baby

And saw your tender smile

I wanted you so badly

My heart was captured for a while

 

I never dreamed

Your caress could hurt so much

I never dreamed

That I would shake to your tender touch

 

Till you held my hand

Run your fingers through my hair

The other guys all laughed at me

But I didn’t really care

 

I never dreamed

I never dreamed

I never dreamed

‚I Never Dreamed’ marks the first-ever studio recording of 16-year old David Robert Jones on 29 August 1963 at Decca Studios in Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, London. The recording which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 is from a long, long time ago when David had not yet taken on the artificial surname ‚Bowie’ (which happened about three years later) and when he was a more or less regular teenager with some ambitions to make it in the music business.

At the time of the recording David Jones was a member of the Kon-rads, a band made up by David’s childhood friend George Underwood some years before. Upon Underwood’s involvement with the Kon-rads since 1961 David saw his chance to make a first huge leap in his musical career and asked his friend if he could place him in the band. In fact, he must have been very relentless as Underwood told to biographer Kevin Cann many years later: „David was dying to get into the band. He regularly asked if I could get him in.“

Konrads David Bowie 1

David Jones joined the Kon-rads in June 1962 as the saxophonist, but also to provide some backing vocals. The band consisted of George Underwood (vocals), David Jones (tenor saxophone, vocals), Neville Wills (guitar), Alan Dodds (guitar), Dave Crook (drums), Dave Hadfield (drums), Rocky Shahan (bass), Roger Ferris (vocals), Christine and Stella Patton (backing vocals). Ever since he joined the band David played a couple of gigs with them in small venues in London for a little over a year featuring some hits from the Beatles, Shadows and Chris Montez.

Throughout his tours with the Kon-rads David learned how to experiment with his appearance on stage and constantly introduced new ideas to his bandmates e.g. new outfits and gimmicks to increase the popularity of the band. For some performances he took on the stage name ‘David Jay’. However, David’s membership in the band was not meant to last too long – a pattern that was soon to be repeated over and over throughout his musical advancements in the 1960s. At the time of the recording David was no longer a happy member in his band as the Kon-rads sticked to performing a (in David’s view) rather limited musical range. In the months after leaving the Kon-rads he would get more involved with R&B.

The studio recording of ‘I Never Dreamed’ took place when David had already graduated from Bromley Tech. During the summer of 1963 an assistant to Eric Easton, a manager of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, had seen the Kon-rads in one of their performances in Orpington and invited the Kon-rads to an audition at Decca Studios. According to Bromley & Kentish Times – which euphorically announced the recording only a couple of days before the actual audition – the Kon-rads were to audition with a total of four songs. However, they auditioned solely with their self-penned composition ‚I Never Dreamed’.

During the audition the Kon-rads performed poorly: Hadfield was described as a “nervous wreck” and the song was played in such a way that it was simply not enjoyable. According to drummer David Hadfield nobody was really interested. “We thought this is it, it’s tremendous. But it never materialized.” When Decca and other talent scouts finally confirmed that they weren’t interested in promoting the Kon-rads at all, David Jones had already told his bandmates that he was planning on leaving the Kon-rads.

What kind of song was ‘I Never Dreamed’? There is not much we know about the song today as the master tapes of ‚I Never Dreamed’ have been wiped or have been re-recorded. It has taken nearly fifty years for the lyrics to be released to the public domain (lead singer Roger Ferris has remembered the lyrics at the song’s 50th anniversary). Apart from the lyrics, the only thing we know about ‚I Never Dreamed’ is what Ferris told Mojo magazine in 2001: it was an “upbeat love song of the era”. Not necessarily a detailed description of the song, but we just have to live with that for the moment. It is certain however that David Jones contributed backing vocals for this song.

Bowie Konrads 2

A few scratched acetate* recordings of ‘I Never Dreamed’ are rumoured to be in circulation as they were handed over to some members of the band after the audition in 1963. Unfortunately, it has since been confirmed that Ferris and Dodds have lost their acetates over the last fifty years. But it is not out of the question that some other band member might have retained theirs. For example, in 2002 Hadfield offered rehearsal tapes of the song (which must have taken place before the Decca audition?) at Christie’s, but failed to find a buyer. So the hunt continues.

Perhaps this lost acetate recording will be excavated and released one day. With Bowie being back in the global spotlight we can expect that some hidden treasure of the Bowie song catalog will be officially released in the future. In that case, Bowie biographies will have to be slightly modified because, at this time, Bowie’s first-known studio recording that has actually seen the light of day is the single ‘Liza Jane’ from the year 1964, about ten months after ‚I Never Dreamed’.

The Kon-rads after Bowie

Some Bowiephiles became quite ecstatic a few years ago when a Konrads (the hyphen had already been dropped!) single named ‘I Didn’t Know How Much’ (B-side: ‚I Thought Of You Last Night’) turned up on an auction website. This led many collectors to the assumption that this song might be somehow linked to the Decca audition on 29th August 1963, and would hence feature young David Bowie on them. And of course this wasn’t the case here: The single and some other Konrads recordings that have resurfaced ever since were on the Decca Canada label and appeared on a bootleg with the misleading title ‚Bromley Scout Hut rehearsals’. All these recordings were made by the Konrads for CBS in 1965 – long after David Jones had left the band.

* Acetates are fragile lacquer records intented for temporary use only

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Filed under 1963-65: Early Songs