April 13, 1973: David Bowie releases ‘Aladdin Sane’

DavidBowieAladdinSaneAladdin Sane was the sixth studio album by English musician David Bowie, the follow-up to his breakthrough The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and the first album he wrote and released from a position of stardom.

NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray called the album “oddly unsatisfying, considerably less than the sum of the parts”, while Bowie encyclopedist Nicholas Pegg describes it as “one of the most urgent, compelling and essential” of his releases. The Rolling Stone review by Ben Gerson pronounced it “less manic than The Man Who Sold The World, and less intimate than Hunky Dory, with none of its attacks of self-doubt.” The album cover featuring a lightning bolt across his face is regarded as one of Bowie’s most iconic images.

Although technically a new Bowie ‘character’, Aladdin Sane was essentially a development of Ziggy Stardust in his appearance and persona, as evidenced on the cover by Brian Duffy and in Bowie’s live performances throughout 1973 that culminated in Ziggy’s ‘retirement’ at the Hammersmith Odeon in July that year. Lacking the thematic flow found on its predecessor, Aladdin Sane was described by Bowie himself as simply “Ziggy goes to America”; most of the tracks were observations he composed on the road during his 1972 US tour, which accounted for the place names following each song title on the original record labels. Biographer Christopher Sandford believed the album showed that Bowie “was simultaneously appalled and fixated by America”.

The album went to No1 in the UK Album Chart and was certified Gold.  Singles “The Jean Genie“and “Drive-In Saturday” went to No 2 and No 3 in the UK Singles Chart, respectively. [Wikipedia]

Read more in the Ziggy Stardust Companion.

Listen to Aladdin Sane on Spotify.

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