David Bowie’s Waiting in the Sky (Before the Starman Came to Earth) Limited Edition LP Is an RSD Exclusive Earmarked to Arrive on April 20, Featuring Four Non-Ziggy Stardust Tracks

The Starman takes to the skies yet again — or rather, he’s taking another spin (or three) on our turntables. To that end, Parlophone has just announced the release of David Bowie’s Waiting in the Sky (Before the Starman Came to Earth) as a Record Store Day LP exclusive on April 20.

Waiting in the Sky has been culled from the Trident Studios ¼-inch stereo tapes dated December 15, 1971, which were initially created for the provisional tracklisting for what would ultimately become David Bowie’s seminal May 1972 LP on RCA, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars.

According to a confirmation given to AP directly from the HQ of Rhino (the label responsible for creating/distributing the Bowie/Parlophone catalog), Waiting in the Sky was cut on a customized late Neumann VMS80 lathe with fully recapped electronics from 192kHz restored masters of the original Trident Studios master tapes, with no additional processing on the transfer. The half-speed vinyl was cut by engineer John Webber at AIR Studios in London, and the Waiting LPs have been pressed at Optimal in Germany.

The tracklisting for Waiting in the Sky (Before the Starman Came to Earth) runs somewhat differently from the original, aforementioned 1972 Ziggy Stardust album, and it also features four songs that didn’t make the final cut — although they all ultimately surfaced elsewhere.

On Waiting Side 1, in the place of “Starman” (which had been Ziggy Track 4) is one of the last three tracks recorded for the Ziggy album in February 1972, “Round and Round,” a Chuck Berry cover. That track was instead released as the B-side to “Drive-In Sunday” (a single from April 1973’s Aladdin Sane) on April 6, 1973. Also, in the place of “It Ain’t Easy” (Ziggy Track 5), the last track on Side 1 was to be Bowie’s version of Jacques Brel’s “Amsterdam,” which would later appear as the B-side of his cover of The Merseys’ version of “Sorrow” (from October 1973’s Pin-Ups) on October 12, 1973.

Side 2 of Waiting features a pair of longtime non-LP fan favorites, “Velvet Goldmine” (now Track 3, instead of “Hang on to Yourself”) and “Holy Holy” (now Track 4, in place of “Ziggy Stardust”). The latter song is a re-recording with The Spiders of Bowie’s January 1971 single, but this particular version had to wait several years before surfacing as the B-side of “Diamond Dogs” (the title track of Bowie’s May 1974 LP) on June 14, 1974.

Meanwhile, “Velvet Goldmine” is considered by many to be a semi-lost but well-loved Ziggy-era classic, one Bowie often referred to as “He’s a Goldmine” or “She’s a Goldmine” in his notebooks and interviews. This track was indeed recorded during the Ziggy sessions, but wasn’t released until September 26, 1975 alongside “Changes” (originally from December 1971’s Hunky Dory) backing the re-released album version of 1969’s “Space Oddity,” which peaked at No. 1 on the UK singles chart in November 1975.

The cover art for Waiting in the Sky (Before the Starman Came to Earth) — which can be seen at the very top of this story — features a glam-cool photo of Bowie taken at an early Ziggy Stardust-period session by Brian Ward, and both sides of the inner bags are the fronts of the two Trident Studios tape boxes. The new album title comes from, of course, a line in the chorus of “Starman” — a song that, interestingly enough, along with “Rock ’N’ Roll Suicide” and “Suffragette City,” had not yet been recorded when this variation of the Ziggy album sequencing was compiled.

At any rate, Waiting in the Sky is yet another fascinating entry into the ever-expanding Bowie Parlophone catalog, and one that should be at the top of your upcoming 04.20 RSD wishlist. The SRP for this 1LP set has yet to be announced, but we’re reasonably sure it won’t break your RSD-earmarked bank.



1LP (Parlophone)

Side 1
1. Five Years
2. Soul Love
3. Moonage Daydream
4. Round And Round
5. Amsterdam

Side 2
1. Hang On To Yourself
2. Ziggy Stardust
3. Velvet Goldmine
4. Holy Holy
5. Star
6. Lady Stardust

Glotz's picture

And your encouragement... I will have to be there for RSD!

rich d's picture

Glotz and I can't be the only ones waiting in line for this release. Unless they're pressing 1.5 zillion copies some of us will be left in the cold. Have your sources divulged the likely quantity, or hinted about a future, less-exclusive release (maybe on star-colored vinyl or suchlike)?

Mike Mettler's picture
Good Qs all ... they're staying mum on the other pressing details at the moment, but knowing Rhino, this limited Bowie run should be in the neighborhood of what I would deem "fair enough" for people like us to go out and find it on RSD without experiencing panic in Detroit, so to speak, and/or elsewhere... stay tuned, as I will update any additional info I get from them accordingly.