I came very close to not doing an entry for this one, but seeing as I’m behind on the remaining Scary Monsters entries and after listening to it again, I felt “Is There Life After Marriage?” merited some sort of notice: a separate but qualified entry. Hence the asterisk.
Because “Is There Life After Marriage” has already been covered here—it’s an instrumental from the early Scary Monsters sessions that was meant to be a version of Cream’s “I Feel Free,” a song that Bowie played during the first Spiders tour and had intended to cover for years: he finally did so on Black Tie White Noise. The intended Scary Monsters cover went no further than this backing track (possibly because “Kingdom Come” made it superfluous), in which Carlos Alomar, Dennis Davis and George Murray do their thing: Alomar demonstrates yet again that he’s one of the best rhythm players of his generation, Murray is a rock of melodic steadiness and Davis seems ready to cut loose at a half-second’s notice.
To make things more confusing, there are two “Marriage”s: a track title reportedly documented during the Scary Monsters sessions (as per Pegg) which no one has heard outside the Bowie circle (and which may well be a working title of another Monsters track, as “Cameras in Brooklyn” was for “Up the Hill Backwards”), and this version, the bootlegged “I Feel Free” backing track. The title could be a reference to the just-divorced Bowie, but it’s also possible that he took the phrase from Margaret Drabble’s The Middle Ground (1980), where it’s a graffito scrawled on the wall of an Oxford Street bridal shop.
Recorded February 1980, the Power Station, New York. Unreleased.
Top: Kevin O’Sullivan, “New York,” May 1980.