The Info List - Oh! You Pretty Things

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"Oh! You Pretty Things" is a song written by David Bowie
David Bowie
in 1971 for the album Hunky Dory. It opens with only piano and Bowie's vocal, before entering the catchy refrain. The simple piano style is often compared to The Beatles' "Martha My Dear".[1][2] Thematically, the song has been seen as reflecting the influence of occultist Aleister Crowley,[1] philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche,[3] and Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel 1871 Vril, the Power of the Coming Race,[4] and heralding "the impending obsolescence of the human race in favour of an alliance between arriving aliens and the youth of the present society".[2] The song was first released by Peter Noone
Peter Noone
of Herman's Hermits, in a single on which Bowie played piano. It became a #12 hit in mid-1971. Noone replaced Bowie's line "The Earth is a bitch" with "The Earth is a beast", in a performance that NME
editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray opined to be "one of rock and roll's most outstanding examples of a singer failing to achieve any degree of empathy whatsoever with the mood and content of a lyric".[5]


1 Personnel 2 Live versions 3 Other releases 4 Cover versions 5 References 6 External links


David Bowie: lead vocals, piano Rick Wakeman: piano[6][7] Mick Ronson: backing vocals Trevor Bolder: bass guitar Woody Woodmansey: drums

Live versions[edit]

A performance of the song by Bowie and Mick Ronson
Mick Ronson
as a duo, broadcast on the BBC
show Sounds of the 70s: Bob Harris in September 1971, was released on the Japanese edition of the 2000 release Bowie at the Beeb and on the 2016 vinyl version of that album.[8] Bowie played the song at the BBC
show Johnny Walker Lunchtime Show on 22 May 1972. This was broadcast in early June the same year and in 2000 was released on Bowie at the Beeb; it was also issued as a promo single in France in 2000. A live version recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, on 3 July 1973 was released on the album Ziggy Stardust – The Motion Picture in 1983. This version of the song was a part of a medley with "Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud" and "All the Young Dudes".

Other releases[edit]

The song appeared on the compilations:

The Best of David Bowie
David Bowie
(Japan 1974) Changestwobowie
(1981) The Singles Collection (1993) The Best of David Bowie
David Bowie
1969/1974 (1997) Best of Bowie
Best of Bowie
(2002) The Platinum Collection (2006) Nothing Has Changed
Nothing Has Changed
(2014) Bowie Legacy
Bowie Legacy

It was also recorded on 8 February 1972 for The Old Grey Whistle Test on the BBC, though the performance was not broadcast until over 10 years later.[9] This performance is available on the Best of Bowie DVD. An outtake from the same session, in which Bowie stumbles over the lines and gets them wrong on several occasions, is hidden among easter eggs on the same DVD.

Cover versions[edit]

Peter Noone
Peter Noone
– Single (1971) Harvey Danger
Harvey Danger
– Live version released on the 2006 EP Little Round Mirrors Seu Jorge
Seu Jorge
– Portuguese version for the 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 67 Special
67 Special
– The Devil May Care (2007) Au Revoir Simone
Au Revoir Simone
– Life Beyond Mars: Bowie Covered (2008) Tedeschi Trucks Band
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Let Me Get By
Let Me Get By
(Deluxe Edition) (2016) Lisa Hannigan
Lisa Hannigan
– "Chapter 6" of FX series Legion (2017) Dawes – Howard Stern Tribute to David Bowie
David Bowie


^ a b David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story: p.115 ^ a b Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: pp.40-41 ^ David Sheppard (2007), MOJO 60 Years of Bowie: p.24 ^ Pegg, Nicholas (27 Sep 2011). The Complete David Bowie. California: Titan Books. ISBN 9780857682901. Retrieved 11 July 2016.  ^ Carr & Murray (1981): p.117 ^ " Rick Wakeman
Rick Wakeman
reveals he played piano on David Bowie's "Oh! You Pretty Things" - Uncut". 17 January 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2017.  ^ "Bowie or Wakeman piano mystery". 14 October 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2017 – via www.bbc.com.  ^ "Bowie At The Beeb vinyl box out now". davidbowie.com. 2016-02-26. Retrieved 2016-02-27.  ^ Harvey, Michael (2007-01-19). "The Old Gray Whistle Test - 8 February 1972". The Ziggy Stardust Companion. Retrieved 2011-01-29. 

External links[edit]

Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

v t e

David Bowie
David Bowie


"Liza Jane" "I Pity the Fool" "You've Got a Habit of Leaving" "Can't Help Thinking About Me" "Do Anything You Say" "I Dig Everything" "Rubber Band" "The Laughing Gnome" "Love You till Tuesday" "Space Oddity" "Ragazzo solo, ragazza sola"


"The Prettiest Star" "Memory of a Free Festival" "Holy Holy" "Moonage Daydream" "Hang On to Yourself" "Changes" "Starman" "John, I'm Only Dancing" "The Jean Genie" "Drive-In Saturday" "Time" "Life on Mars" "Let's Spend the Night Together" "Sorrow" "Rebel Rebel" "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" "Diamond Dogs" "1984" "Knock on Wood" "Rock 'n' Roll with Me" "Young Americans" "Fame" "Golden Years" "TVC 15" "Suffragette City" "Stay" "Sound and Vision" "Be My Wife" "'Heroes'" "Beauty and the Beast" "Breaking Glass" "Boys Keep Swinging" "DJ" "Yassassin" "Look Back in Anger" " John, I'm Only Dancing
John, I'm Only Dancing


"Alabama Song" "Crystal Japan" "Ashes to Ashes" "Fashion" "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)" "Up the Hill Backwards" "Under Pressure" "Wild Is the Wind" "The Drowned Girl" "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" "Let's Dance" "China Girl" "Modern Love" "Without You" "White Light/White Heat" "Blue Jean" "Tonight" "This Is Not America" "Loving the Alien" "Dancing in the Street" "Absolute Beginners" "Underground" "As the World Falls Down" "Magic Dance" "When the Wind Blows" "Day-In Day-Out" "Time Will Crawl" "Never Let Me Down" "Under the God" "Heaven's in Here" "Tin Machine" / " Maggie's Farm
Maggie's Farm
(live)" "Prisoner of Love"


"Fame '90" "You Belong in Rock n' Roll" "Baby Universal" "One Shot" "Real Cool World" "Jump They Say" "Black Tie White Noise" "Miracle Goodnight" "The Buddha of Suburbia" "Ziggy Stardust" "The Hearts Filthy Lesson" "Strangers When We Meet" / " The Man Who Sold the World
The Man Who Sold the World
(live)" "Hallo Spaceboy" "Telling Lies" "Little Wonder" "Dead Man Walking" "Seven Years in Tibet" "Pallas Athena" "I'm Afraid of Americans" "I Can't Read" "Without You I'm Nothing" "Thursday's Child" "The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell"


"Survive" "Seven" "Slow Burn" "Everyone Says 'Hi'" "I've Been Waiting for You" "Shadow Man" "New Killer Star" "Just for One Day (Heroes)" "Never Get Old" "Rebel Never Gets Old"


"Where Are We Now?" "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" "The Next Day" "Valentine's Day" "Love Is Lost" "'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore" "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)" "Blackstar" "Lazarus" "I Can't Give Everything Away" "Life on Mars? (2016 Mix)"

Discography Book: David Bowie
David Bowie
Book:Bowie singles and songs Ca