“Hot tramp, I love you so”
Though the press adverts proclaimed that it was a Valentine's Day release, Rebel Rebel was actually issued forty five years ago today on the 15th of February, 1974. The release, which had already been put back two weeks (original printed release date on demo label is Feb 1st), was an edited version of the song and a first taste from the upcoming Diamond Dogs LP, though it was considered a bit of a curveball compared to much of the music on that album. The single was backed with Queen Bitch.
It was the first release since the dissolution of The Spiders From Mars, though stylistically it may have been more at home on Aladdin Sane, with its up-tempo, Stonesy feel and with an unmistakable and instantly recognisable riff played by Bowie. A riff that he was more than grateful to have conjured up, later saying of it: “It's a fabulous riff! Just fabulous! When I stumbled onto it, it was 'Oh, thank you!'”.
The track reached #5 on the UK singles chart (Bowie's sixth Top Five single in the UK), and even managed a placing in the US Billboard Hot 100, no doubt helped by the exclusive New York Mix, which was almost a minute and a half shorter than the regular single mix. The New York Mix was released in North America and Mexico in May 1974 backed with Lady Grinning Soul.
This second version was more urgent than the original, with a backward echo effect on the new la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la backing vocals, castanets and more general excitement all round...more akin to the live version that would be performed shortly on the US Diamond Dogs tour.
The main images in our montage show the music press adverts from the UK (left) and the Netherlands (on the right), where David’s performance of the song on the Dutch TV show, Top Pop, was broadcast on the 18th. Watch it here.