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David Bowie / Previously unreleased Let’s Dance demo issued today

Digital-only release of the unheard demo available now

Today would have been the 71st birthday of David Bowie and to celebrate this, a previously unheard demo version of his 1983 hit single Let’s Dance is available right now as a special digital and streaming release.

Nile Rodgers had listened to the songs that would become the Let’s Dance album in late 1982 and him and David decided to record a set of demos straight away. This Let’s Dance demo was recorded on 19 December 1982 in Montreux, Switzerland. Turkish multi-instrumentalist Erdal Kizilcay – who would later work extensively with Bowie on Never Let Me Down, The Buddha Of Suburbia and Outside – and there was also an “unidentified drummer and second guitarist.”


David Bowie, Erdal Kizilcay (red jeans), Nile Rodgers in Dec 82

Thirty five years later the track has been mixed for the first time especially for this release by Nile Rodgers and Russell Graham at Nile’s Le Crib Studios in Westport, Connecticut. Speaking of those early ‘LET’S DANCE’ pre-production sessions Nile Rodgers had some warm words to say:

“I’ve been blessed with a wonderful career but my creative partnership with David Bowie ranks very very very high on the list of my most important and rewarding collaborations. This demo gives you, the fans, a bird’s eye view of the very start of it! I woke up on my first morning in Montreux with David peering over me. He had an acoustic guitar in his hands and exclaimed, ‘Nile, darling, I think this is a HIT!’

This recording was the first indication of what we could do together as I took his ‘folk song’ and arranged it into something that the entire world would soon be dancing to and seemingly has not stopped dancing to for the last 35 years! It became the blue print not only for Let’s Dance the song but for the entire album as well.

If you played 2nd guitar or drums let us know who you are! The time we spent mixing it just before Christmas was full of tears as it felt like David was in the room with us. Happy Birthday David, I love you and we all miss you!”.

 

The demo lasts for just over five minutes and sounds great. It’s a clear blueprint for the master recording. There is a poignant moment at the end where David’s trademark laugh can be heard and he cries out “That’s it, that’s it! Got it, got it!”

This is not being issued physically and it is very unlikely to even be included on a fourth David Bowie box – assuming that will happen – since previously unreleased material is normally not part of the remit. A physical release is only likely whenever Parlophone decide to reissue an expanded deluxe edition of the album.

Although this demo is available on streaming services, who knows how long it will remain up there, so my advice (unusually!) would be to buy the digital download so you own this file.

The Let’s Dance demo is available right now and the download links for various territories are below.

LET’S DANCE (DEMO)
(David Bowie)

Produced David Bowie and Nile Rodgers
Arranged by David Bowie and Nile Rodgers
Mixed by Nile Rodgers & Russell Graham at Le Crib Studios November, 2017
Recorded at Mountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland 19th December, 1982
Engineered by David Richards

Vocals: David Bowie
Guitar: Nile Rodgers
Bass: Erdal Kizilcay
Drums: Unknown
2nd Guitar: Unknown

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[…] April. The first is fairly predictable, a physical release of the Let’s Dance demo that was made available digitally back in January to mark what would have been David’s 71st birthday. This is a 45RPM black 12-inch vinyl […]

Andrew B

I used to hate this LP with a passion, too polished, but as I mature into my autumnal years I like it more, still you can’t beat the early works though.

Bowie is Bowie, Bowie is God

Matt NYC

Would’ve been nice if it had been included on the “Up All Night” compilation from 2013. Licensing issue?

Paul W

Love bowie

Why bother

martin farnworth

hardly a revelationary insight but worthwhile nonetheless although it’s clear how Nile Rodger’s worked his magic on the real thing to turn it into a great track. I actually prefer Rodger’s produced Notorious album to Let’s Dance- the album. This recalls to mind the MM mix of Time Will Crawl- which sounded a bit like what could have been the demo-but didn’t really improve the original track which was fine apart from the the drums being a bit loud.

Prithviraj Subramaniam

Let’s Dance was the first David Bowie album I purchased back in 1983. Bowie was not as well known in Malaysia at that time compared to artistes like Michael Jackson. I used to play the album on vinyl nearly everyday and as a result quite a few other people started listening to Bowie. It remains one of my favourite Bowie albums although I now have virtually his whole collection on CD or vinyl or both. Looking forward to the next box set containing this album. Until then, the demo which I have just downloaded will suffice. Happy Birthday, Bowie. Thank you for the music.

Kauwgompie

I’m hoping this is a sign of what’s to come. The Let’s Dance album is one of my favorite Bowie albums. It’s what got me on the Bowie train. It needs to be expanded in the worst way. If there are no tracks in the vault (which I doubt there are), I will settle for demo’s and a concert from the “Serious Moonlight” tour. Of course accompanied by an interview booklet from Paul with Nile Rodgers.

We got very few b-sides. Only “Modern Love Live” and “Shake It (Long Version). May be add various versions of “Dancing In The Street”, “This Is Not America”, “Absolute Beginners”, ‘When The Wind Blows”, “Underground” and “Magic Dance”. If they really wanted to fill an expanded version of Let’s Dance, there is plenty of material. Most of these soundtrack singles mentioned above are closer to the “Tonight” album so may be they want to keep those for the expanded version of “Tonight” or “Never Let Me Down” but then we still have the demo’s, b-sides and live stuff.

Dean

I’m happy this was released. Sadly this is not a highlight of Bowie’s discography for me. In fact, a lot of it is among the worst he recorded, imo. Best track on Let’s Dance are the title track, and Ricochet. Don’t get me started on the re-recording of Cat People…. The follow up album was worse.

Still, I’m in for the next box.

baward

Fantastic, thank you for linking to it. Ordered, of course but of course ‘buy the digital download so you own this file’ I don’t think means that you actually own the file as such (unlike an actual record). I believe its merely licensed for you to do only limited number of things with.

Webvan, I believe that keeping a record of musicians on a demo (as opposed to a master session) wouldn’t generally be required. Carl Magnus Palm in his excellent book on ABBA’s recording sessions (ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions) discusses personnel on a recording session quite extensively (although it might be different in Sweden).

Pedant mode over :-)

Kauwgompie

On Ebay they allow you to sell the physical format of singles and albums but not the mp3 format, even though you do pay for both. Not sure why that is. Some legal thing I assume. No where can you buy “used” mp3’s as far as I know.

wayne

That’s because legally you don’t own it–you purchased a license to listen to it. One of the reasons that physical media would be an advantage is that you at least have it so that they can’t yank it. In theory, when you update your computer, iTunes, etc. the label could request that it be removed and you would have no recourse.

Klaus

Technical question: Does anyone here know if it’s possible to add the song for free to the “Your music”-section of one’s Amazon account?
They regularly keep telling me that i can add up to 250 tracks for free but i have absolutely no clue how it works.

Auntie Sabrina

probablyrustin, I wondered that too. There was a 4CD boxset out a few years ago Nile Rodgers Presents The Chic Organization – Box Set Vol. 1 / “Savoir Faire”. Last year also saw the Johnny Mathis album Nile produced get a release too…

Klaus

Hi Paul,

the jpc.de links the widget gives lead to the new physical releases from Judas Priest resp. Bad Company. Was surprised to even find jpc-links there because as far as i’m aware jpc.de only deals with physical releases not downloads.

Neil

I would imagine if they ever did a deluxe of this it would be full of demos or unreleased tracks as there were no 12 inch mixes from this album apart from a remix of Shake It which was a b-side. Oh and i forgot to mention there is a 9 minute mix of the original version of Cat People..

Dean

There was a 7 minute 12″ of Let’s Dance released.

Will

Oh man, mention of the Labyrinth demos is so sweet and makes me hope we will hear them someday soon.

When Bowie passed away, actor Danny John-Jules (Cat from Red Dwarf, and various creatures from Labyrinth) posted to YouTube his cassette copy of the demo of “Chilly Down” that he and Bowie recorded, originally called “Wild Things”.

There’s surely a reel somewhere with that and more. So good.

memoryboy

@RJS… I grew up listening to Bowie as a little kid in the 70’s. I was around 10 Yeats old in 1980 and when ‘Let’s Dance’ came out it was HUGE. I’m an 80’s boy. That album had a sound to it that I prefer over his 70’s stuff. But I still love his 70’s music. I think we’ve had this conversation on here before. His career spanned decades. I was most influenced by this one album in particular. Also love the ‘Scary Monsters’ album and the song ‘Cat People’. Not everyone is going to have the same opinion obviously. And that’s OK.

Webvan

Nice surprise, odd that no one remembers who the other musicians were though !

memoryboy

I am a big fan of Bowie. I think ‘Let’s Dance’ is my favorite album of his. And the song ‘Let’s Dance’ is still played by me often and is a favorite. Happy Birthday Bowie! You are missed. Thanks for posting Paul

RJS

“I think ‘Let’s Dance’ is my favorite album of his”

That’s not something you hear too often from Bowie fans!

Jon

@RJS it’s not uncommon…I’m a child of the 80’s and his “Let’s Dance” album means a lot to me and it’s one of his albums that I listen to the most (besides “Station to Station” and “Black Noise White Tie””.

CJ Feeney

Is Nile Rodgers working on some retrospective of his own work, rather than a Bowie deluxe? I’m only asking because it’s not long since he pulled a George Michael remix out of thin air. His health issues are well publicised, maybe he feels the need to put some of this stuff out to fans while he has the ability to exercise artistic control.

probablyrustin

That’s a lot more likely than any sort of David Bowie project with unreleased material, given the treatment of his catalog so far. Maybe Parlophone will call advertise this as the big “previously unreleased on CD/LP bonus” in 9 years when they finally get around to a Let’s Dance deluxe.

Michael Fortin

Rumors at a certain other forum are swirling regarding an expanded reissue of the “Let’s Dance” album. Maybe this demo is a taste of things to come?

Simon

I wonder whether Erdal Kizilcay was wearing red shoes with his red trousers…

Erdal Kizilcay

No Simon, I had white shoes, but during N.L.D album, I had Red boots. Peter Frampton was looking at me very strange way. And David said: Erdal; Please ..

Erdal Kizilcay

Hey Guys, yes it was me Nile and David who did the Demos in Montruex, and it was in 1982.
Actually, first we have played Labyrinths Demos, then came let’s Dance and some others I can’t remember now. Cheers and happy new year to all.

Nav Phokela

It would be great for you and Erdal to have a chat about his work with Bowie, and maybe make this available as an insert to the next box set, similar to what you did with the McCartney related one

Nav Phokela

Thanks Paul, I forgot. I did read it at the time.

Ben Williams

Hi Erdal, really cool that you’re an SDE reader! I’m a big fan of Never Let Me Down. This Let’s Dance demo is really great!

David

Queen owned the Mountain Studios which Bowie used. In 1981 he worked with the band on 2 tracks. Under Pressure and Cool Cat. The demo version of the latter is floating online.

Gerbrand

As others have noted the stated recording date of December 19, 1982 is wrong according to various sources. Bowie recorded the album between December 1-20 at the Power Station in New York. Before that he held a three-day demo session in Montreux. This must have been in October or (probably) November 1982.

Steve Pafford
Harold

Wasn’t the “2nd” guitarist on this album Stevie Ray Vaughn? I thought he was the only guitarist?

Eamonn

What’s the providence of this folk version?

Totes stoked for the ’18 superdooper preview :)

Bogdan

Loved every second of it, and the laughter and spoken words at the end were so heartwarming!

Guido

I was hoping far an announcement of Let‘s dance Deluxe Reissue, but may be it indicates that they are working on it…

tom m hans

Interesting and worth $1.29 – Thanks a bunch.

cliff

i would have preferred the version 6music played a little piece of this morning – the “folk” version. That sound very good!

KevinK

The “folk” version snippet played on 6music was from the BBC Radio Theatre performance on 27th June 2000 as mentioned above – and released on the limited bonus disc of Bowie At The Beeb.

Kevin M

The best alternate Let’s Dance is live at BBC Radio Theatre 2000. Check it out, it’s beautiful, and very different to this or the original.

Gansbarre

Second that.

Tony Cannings

I still find it hard to believe that I live in a world that David Bowie doesn’t. What an amazing legacy he has left us.

Derek

Has anyone seen this for sale in a lossless format anywhere?

Steven Roberts

It’s available in 16 bit CD quality at qobuz.com.

Derek

Thanks Steven!

Billy Dojcak

Didn’t demos used to be something you found online for free? This could at least be issued on a 7-inch.

RJS

“This could at least be issued on a 7-inch”

The industry is evolving – keep up! ‘-)

Ben Williams

What an amazing recording, the words of Bowie’s at the end worth 99p alone. A fabulous way to say happy birthday to David. Excellent.

Tom

Very much enjoyed this peek into the Bowie vaults. However the dates don’t quite stack up for me – this demo was apparently done in Switzerland in late December 82, but apparently the album proper was done ‘in 17 days start to finish’ in NYC in December 82.

RJS

It sounds more Rodgers than Bowie, moreso than what was released.

Catweazle

Let’s Dance is not among my favourite Bowie albums but still a nice surprise.
Happy birthday David!

cdmaniac

Happy Birthday David!!

Nancy

Hi Paul!
Off topic, but can you do the 2018 preview so we could see what new releases and reissues are expecting us during the year, please? Thanks!