London Bye Ta Ta sounds faster and more jaunty in its 1970 incarnation, compared to the earlier 1968 version, although the tempo is pretty similar, just the treatment differs. It has been alleged that Marc Bolan played guitar on this, like he did on the The Prettiest Star.
This update of London Bye Ta was originally planned as the B side of The Prettiest Star. Kenneth Pitt, noted his surprise that Conversation Piece was added in its place. Tony Visconti maintains Conversation Piece was recorded as part of the Phillips album sessions. While the latter song is not that dissimilar in mood to the songs on the album that came to be called ‘Space Oddity’, there’s something so mild, mannered, and inoffensive about it that it drifts by a little too pleasantly, lacking the impact, passion, and intensity of the earlier demo (from the ‘Beckenham Oddity’ session).
London Bye Ta Ta, like its earlier draft in 1968, evinces excitement in its barnstorming presentation, and is worthy of a proper single release with its originally planned single partner, The Prettiest Star.
The Prettiest Star itself sounds wonderful in the stereo mix that was released in the 1990s; and the lack of a single re-release of this ‘lost’ single, makes for another gaping hole in the Bowie singles release programme, in that this version was released on 45 back in 1970, and not on a single since.
Instead of the plethora of picture discs that have been released in recent years, how about simple, official picture sleeve releases of songs like this? Prettiest Star in the single cover below has sold from over £150 to over £250 in recent years.
A single release of stereo Prettiest Star with its original B Side, the 1970 recording of London Bye Ta Ta, with Marc Bolan on guitar on both sides apparently, would make for a great addition to the current Bowie catalogue.