David Bowie

Oh! You Pretty Things

Composed by David Bowie

Song Review by

While Ziggy Stardust hadn't fully yet come to life, there's no question that with Hunky Dory David Bowie had not only laid the groundwork for his work there, but confirmed that he was a singular talent. That "Oh! You Pretty Things" turns out to be one genius track of many from that record makes its singular qualities even more of a treat. The secret weapon of the album, keyboardist Rick Wakeman, begins the song with a jaunty, sprightly piano line, not quite honky tonk but not quite anything else, before settling back a touch for Bowie's warm vocal about waking up and getting ready to face the day. But then the imagery gets odder: "Look out the window, what do I see?/A crack in the sky and a hand reaching out to me." Sly and funny, Bowie then fully invokes the sexual scramble of glam on the great full-band chorus of descending guitar chords; a slow, strong beatl and the wickedly fun claim "Oh! You pretty things/Don't you know you're driving your mommas and poppas insane?" Not quite a sci-fi song per se, but still amusingly invoking concepts of the "homo superior" in a teasing, unquestionably gay tinged manner, it remains one of his best efforts.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Hunky Dory 1971 Rhino
No Image 1981 RCA
Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars [The Motion Picture Soundtrack] 1982 Atlantic / Elektra / Rhino / Warner Music
The Singles: 1969-1993 1993 Rykodisc 3:11
The Best of David Bowie 1969-1974 1997 EMI Digital / Parlophone / Warner Music 3:16
Bowie at the Beeb: The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 68-72 2000 Virgin 2:57
Best of Bowie 2002 EMI / EMI Digital / Parlophone / Warner Music 3:12
The Platinum Collection 2006 Parlophone 3:16
David Bowie: Music in Review 2007 Classic Rock Legends / Ultimate Review
Nothing Has Changed 2014 Parlophone 3:12
Five Years 1969-1973 2015 Rhino 1:46
No Image 2016 GC / Rhino / Warner Music 3:13
The  Old Grey Whistle Test 40th Anniversary
Various Artists
Rhino 3:13
blue highlight denotes editor's pick