Starman - David Bowie. Original UK LP and 45 mix is AWOL!!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Mal, Feb 21, 2007.

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  1. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist Thread Starter

    OK, I've brought this up a couple of times in the past - see here for the most recent post with sound clips:

    Every re-issue of "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars" on CD (RCA, Ryko, EMI, Virgin) and SACD (EMI) has used a mix of "Starman" that features a subdued "morse code" section between the verse and the chorus. These staccato notes on the piano and guitar are much louder on the 1980 RCA International re-issue LP I grew up with and ever since noticing the alternate "quiet mix" on the CDs and SACD I've always wondered what the source of that "loud mix" was. I've always much preferred the "loud mix" as it has much more impact - those staccato notes are one of the defining moments on the LP for me so I have always found the "quiet mix" to be a real anti climax.

    Out of curiosity I tracked down an original UK "Starman" 45 and to my delight it was the "loud mix". Since then I have tracked down what I believe is an original 1st pressing UK "Ziggy Stardust" LP and it turns out it also has the "loud mix".

    I have had reports that this was the case from fellow forum members in the past but wanted to make sure with a 1st pressing before posting about it again.

    The UK LP pressing I have is on RCA Victor:

    Cat no: SF8287 (LSP 4702)

    Side A: BGBS 0864-1E
    Side B: BGBS 0865-1E

    Forum member Chaz has the UK LP with these stampers which also features the "loud mix":

    Side A: BGBS 0864-7E
    Side B: BGBS 0865-4E

    In the thread linked to above Ken Scott (the original producer on the "Ziggy Stardust" LP) agreed that the sample I posted of the "loud mix" was indeed a different mix to that which is on all digital re-issues of the song but was in the dark as to the origins of this "loud mix".

    Now it is clear that the original UK LP and 45 had this "loud mix" it seems to me it needs to be found and re-instated in future release of the album.

    Not only that but every compilation I've ever heard in the digital age that includes "Starman" uses the "quiet mix". Surely the "loud mix" needs to be re-instated on future compilations too.

    I still don't have a definitve answer as to where the "quiet mix" originated. I'd be grateful if those of you with original US "Ziggy Stardust" LPs and "Starman" 45s could check which mix is used and let me know :thumbsup:
  2. Ken Scott

    Ken Scott Recording Legend

    Hi Mal,

    As I'm officially no longer a "junior member" I feel free to get involved.

    I honestly don't know which was the official "master" mix. My recollection is that I only did one and that was the one that was on the original UK single and album. Anything after that I have no idea about. I will however bring it up with any one I know that could be considered "powers that be".


  3. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist Thread Starter

    Thanks Ken :thumbsup:

    Congrats on becoming a senior - now maybe we'll listen to you ;) :wave:
  4. mark f.

    mark f. Forum Resident

    I have over 1200 posts and I can't get that "Recording Legend" to show up under my name?????:D
  5. Ken Scott

    Ken Scott Recording Legend

    It's interesting, it started off with the "Legend" thing but then became "Junior Member". It's only the last couple of days that I've noticed it reverting back.

    Hey, as long as I can put an interesting slant on things and people have an interest in my thoughts you can call me whatever you like. Please note robin101.

  6. His Masters Vice

    His Masters Vice W.C. Fields Forever

    Sydney, Australia
    Mal, does the loud mix differ from the mix now used on all digital formats in other ways, or is just the "morse code" bit that's different?

    I haven't got my Bowie LPs in front of me so I can't check. I seem to recall that the intro might have been balanced a bit differently as well. Since Ken (congrats on the 100 posts, I saw ya!) :wave: famously mixed in sections I guess it's possible that morse code bit might be the only difference ...
  7. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    After you engineer some sessions for The Beatles, you'll get the title too... :)
  8. mark f.

    mark f. Forum Resident

    Jeeeeez. I can't even answer Mal's question. I'll never get there.:shake:
  9. chaz

    chaz Senior Member


    Allow me to chime in with my observations. I bought the original UK single the day it was released in London. I was living in the UK at the time. It was the what we call the "loud mix". I also bought the Ziggy LP on release date in the UK and it was the exact same loud mix on the LP. Its the only mix I grew up with so to speak, until I heard it on cd.

    The whole song is actually quite a different mix when you start playing the 2 versions back to back and comparing. Very apparent mix differences can be heard in the intro of the song before David's vocal starts.
  10. John54

    John54 Senior Member

    Burlington, ON
    I'm not a big Bowie fan but I think "Starman" is completely brilliant!

    I'm wondering whose idea was to use that weird-sounding opening chord, which I eventually figured out is really only a B-flat major but with the addition of the low E and A strings ...
  11. bonjo

    bonjo Forum Resident

    I only have Ziggy Stardust on vinyl (just an ordinary RCA dynaflex pressing)...

    How can I tell if it's the loud or quiet Starman mix, since I don't have the CD to compare with? I'm not sure how to tell if it's 'loud' or not. Is there anything else that stands out?
  12. His Masters Vice

    His Masters Vice W.C. Fields Forever

    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks chaz - that's what I was thinking of! I do have that mix then. I'll have to get the LP out ...
  13. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff


    Are you sure that compression used for vinyl cuttings is not the answer to your mystery? It could be this simple...

  14. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist Thread Starter

    100% sure - the guitar strums on the first beat of each bar during the "morse code" section are way in the background.

    Also, Ken has concluded it's a different mix so that is really not in question.

    What I do want to know is which mix is on the original US LP and 45 - anyone have those?
  15. Booga

    Booga Forum Resident

    My dad has the original UK vinyl. It has the 'loud' mix. This was where I first heard the song. I too was very disappointed when I heard the 'quiet' mix on cd.
  16. CardinalFang

    CardinalFang New Member

    I'd love to hear samples of each mix. :whistle:
  17. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    Ken, was there any discussion at the time of the "morse code" section being an homage to the Supremes' use of a similar effect in "You Keep Me Hangin' On"?
    CMcGeek likes this.
  18. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist Thread Starter

    I hear a reference to Glen Campbell's "Witchita Lineman" myself :D
    CMcGeek likes this.
  19. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist Thread Starter

  20. CardinalFang

    CardinalFang New Member

    Thanks Mal! :thumbsup:

    Wow! I like the "loud mix" better. It seperates the two sections nicely. I don't think that has anything to do with compression, like you stated earlier. :agree:
  21. Curiosity

    Curiosity Just A Boy

    United Kingdom
    It made the UK 8 track of Ziggy Stardust. I'll try and score the UK LP sometime.
  22. John Hatter

    John Hatter Senior Member

    I bought UK LP and single when they came out in 72.

    First time I heard the "quiet" mix was when I bought the RCA Ziggy CD in 85

    Bit of a shock!
  23. dotheDVDeed

    dotheDVDeed Forum Resident

    So. Cal., USA
    So does ALL vinyl have the "loud mix"?

    And I assume all digital releases have the "quiet mix", yes?

  24. John Hatter

    John Hatter Senior Member

    Just listened to "Starman" on the Best of Bowie DVD Top of the Pops performance. It's a live vocal but a pre-recorded backing track , and it has the loud stacatto piano as per the original UK single and LP.

    As I said I didnt hear the current version until CDs came out about 11 years afterwards. Wonder what happened ?
  25. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist Thread Starter

    All UK vinyl of the LP and single seems to have the "loud mix", yes.

    Not sure about other territories......

    All digital releases do indeed use this (inferior, in my opinion) "quiet mix".
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