By the time she was just 25, irrepressible Scottish songstress Lulu was already a firmly established member of the British “light entertainment” pantheon, having come to fame in the early 60s with her cover of “Shout!” and presenting many a “family friendly” TV variety series.
A 1974 chance meeting with David Bowie—then the most “far out” rock star the world had ever seen—at a party in Paris saw her take the (for her) unusual step of recording two of his songs for a single, the tunes being “The Man Who Sold The World” and for the flip-side, “Watch That Man.” The idea was to sort of update her cozy image for a new decade, and who better to employ for this task than David Bowie, who told her he wanted to record a “motherfucker” of a song for her (They also had a brief fling, as recounted in her book).
The numbers were produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson, and Bowie played guitar and sax as well as doing backing vocals. “The Man Who Sold The World” was re-imagined as a cold, sleazy cabaret vamp. Bowie had Lulu smoke cigarette after cigarette to get her voice sounding as scratchy as possible. Bolstered by several Top of the Pops appearances, the single went top 10 hit in Britain—her first in five years—and was a hit in several other European countries in 1974.