“Love You Till Tuesday” is catchy and rancid enough to have been a top 10 hit in 1967. It could’ve even been a smash, the single that finally broke Bowie. Instead it utterly flopped and soon vanished, even after favorable reviews (except Syd Barrett, who vaguely panned it in Melody Maker (“Very chirpy, but I don’t think my toes were tapping at all.”)).
An album track promoted to a single (after getting a new strings arrangement by Ivor Raymonde), “Love You Till Tuesday” has a taste of desperation in its cheer. Bowie sings in an affected nasal tone, as if he’s pretending that this track is from the cast recording of Oliver!, and he oversells his mildly-clever lyric. There’s also a sense, as in “When I Live My Dream,” of old-fashionedness to it—it could be a 50-year-old Catskills entertainer’s spin on free love.
Still, all of that shouldn’t have hurt its prospects. The summer and fall of 1967, at least in terms of the pop charts, was a time of bleary fatigue, indulgence and slack. Look at the top songs in the UK—“All You Need Is Love” and “Hello Goodbye,” two of the Beatles’ less inspired songs, Lulu’s “To Sir With Love,” Englebert Humperdinck’s “The Last Waltz,” The Bee Gees’ “Massachusetts,” Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco.” “Love You Till Tuesday” could’ve contended.
Imagine an alternate timeline in which “Tuesday” hit, say, #2 for weeks in the summer of ’67, giving Bowie at last a taste of pop stardom. Then a rushed-out sequel single, maybe “Sell Me a Coat,” that also hit big. The Ed Sullivan Show, Las Vegas revues, duets with Petula Clark and Nancy Sinatra, Bowie Sings Bacharach. An ongoing cabaret show (“Man of Words, Man of Music, Man of Mime”) that extended well into the ’70s (towards the end, playing Sun City for weeks). A disco crossover hit. A mysterious death in the mid-’80s in a Honolulu hotel.
Instead, once again, Bowie was knocked back to the start of the board.
Recorded initially on 25 February 1967 and re-recorded on 3 June. Released (version 1) on David Bowie and (version 2) as Deram DM 135 in July 1967 (it of course was the title song of Bowie’s 1969 promo film). “Love You Till Tuesday” would be the last thing Deram released by Bowie until he became famous on another label.