|Studio album by David Bowie|
|Released||13 April 1973|
|Recorded||6 October 1972 – 24 January 1973 at Trident Studios, London and RCA Studios, New York and Nashville|
|Genre||Rock, glam rock|
|Producer||Ken Scott, David Bowie|
|David Bowie chronology|
|Singles from Aladdin Sane|
|Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Aladdin Sane is the sixth album by David Bowie, released by RCA Records in 1973. The follow-up to his breakthrough The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, it was the first album he wrote and released as a bona fide rock star. While many critics agree that it contains some of his best material, opinion as to its overall quality has often been divided. 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." It was one of six Bowie entries in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time (at #277) and ranked #77 on Pitchfork Media's list of the top 100 albums of the 1970s.
"Ziggy goes to America" 
The name of the album is a pun on "A Lad Insane". An early variation was "Love Aladdin Vein", which David Bowie dropped partly because of its drug connotations. 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 of that year. Moreover there was not the thematic flow on this album that was present on its predecessor. Bowie himself described Aladdin Sane as simply "Ziggy goes to America", most of the tracks being observations he composed on the road during his 1972 US tour—the reason for the place names following each song title on the original record sleeve. Biographer Christopher Sandford believed the album showed that Bowie "was simultaneously appalled and fixated by America".
His mixed feelings about the journey stemmed, in Bowie's words, from "wanting to be up on the stage performing my songs, but on the other hand not really wanting to be on those buses with all those strange people... So Aladdin Sane was split down the middle." This kind of "schizophrenia", as Bowie describes it, was conveyed on the cover by his makeup, where a lightning bolt represents the duality of mind, although he would later tell friends that the "lad insane" of the album's title track was inspired by his brother Terry, who had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic. Bowie himself came up with the idea of the lightning bolt over his face, but said the teardrop was Brian Duffy's idea: "He [Brian] put on that afterward, just popped it in there. I thought it was rather sweet."
Production and style 
The majority of Aladdin Sane was recorded at Trident Studios in London from December 1972 to January 1973, between legs of Bowie's US Ziggy Stardust tour. A desire to rush release the record was blamed for mixes on the Rolling Stones influenced "Watch That Man" and "Cracked Actor" that buried vocals and harmonica, respectively. Bowie and producer Ken Scott later refuted this suggestion regarding "Watch That Man", claiming that a remix they produced which brought the vocals forward was considered by Mainman management and RCA Records to be inferior to the original that was eventually released.
Aladdin Sane featured a tougher rock sound than its predecessor Ziggy Stardust, particularly on tracks like "Panic in Detroit" (built around a Bo Diddley beat) and Bowie's breakneck version of the Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together". The album was also notable for its exploration of unusual styles such as avant-garde jazz in the title track and Brechtian cabaret in "Time", the latter being famous for the line "Time... falls wanking to the floor". Both numbers were dominated by Mike Garson's acclaimed piano work, which also featured heavily in the faux James Bond flamenco ballad "Lady Grinning Soul", inspired by singer Claudia Linnear.
Two hit singles that would be included on the album preceded its release, "The Jean Genie" and "Drive-In Saturday". The former (recorded at RCA's New York studios during the first leg of Bowie's American tour in late 1972) was a heavy R&B chug with lyrics loosely based on Iggy Pop, the latter a futuristic doo-wop number describing a time when the population has to relearn sex by watching old porn movies. "Time" was later issued as a single in the US and Japan, and "Let's Spend the Night Together" in the US and Europe. In 1974, Lulu released a version of "Watch That Man" as the B-side to her single "The Man Who Sold the World", produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson.
Release and aftermath 
With a purported 100,000 copies ordered in advance, Aladdin Sane debuted at the top of the UK charts and reached #17 in America, making it Bowie's most successful album commercially in both countries to that date. Critical reaction was generally laudatory, if more enthusiastic in the US than in the UK. Rolling Stone remarked on "Bowie's provocative melodies, audacious lyrics, masterful arrangements (with Mick Ronson) and production (with Ken Scott)", while Billboard called it a combination of "raw energy with explosive rock". In the British music press, however, letters columns accused Bowie of 'selling out' and Let it Rock magazine found the album to be more style than substance, considering that he had "nothing to say and everything to say it with".
Bowie performed all the tracks, except "Lady Grinning Soul", on his 1972–73 tours and many of them on the 1974 Diamond Dogs tour. Live versions of all but "The Prettiest Star" and "Lady Grinning Soul" have been released on various discs including Ziggy Stardust - The Motion Picture, David Live and Aladdin Sane – 30th Anniversary. "The Jean Genie" is the only song on the album that Bowie has played in concert throughout his career. However "Panic in Detroit" has also appeared regularly in recent years, a remake of which was cut in 1979 but not released until added as a bonus track to the Rykodisc CD of Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).
Canadian rock group The Guess Who launched an ad campaign in the summer of 1973 to promote their album #10 and the single released from it, "Glamour Boy", a broadside against glam rockers like David Bowie. As part of promotion for the song, Guess Who manager Don Hunter posed for an ad done up à la Bowie circa Aladdin Sane, with the caption "Not just another pretty body." After initially circulating it in the musical trades, RCA, at that time the label for both Bowie and The Guess Who and fearing a lawsuit from the former, had the ad pulled.
Track listing 
All songs written and composed by David Bowie, except where noted.
|1.||"Watch That Man"||4:30|
|2.||"Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)"||5:06|
|4.||"Panic in Detroit"||4:25|
|7.||"The Prettiest Star"||3:31|
|8.||"Let's Spend the Night Together" (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards)||3:10|
|9.||"The Jean Genie"||4:07|
|10.||"Lady Grinning Soul"||3:54|
- David Bowie – guitar, harmonica, keyboards, saxophone, vocals
- Mick Ronson – guitar, piano, vocals
- Trevor Bolder – bass guitar
- Mick "Woody" Woodmansey – drums
Additional personnel 
- Mike Garson – piano
- Ken Fordham – saxophone
- Brian "Bux" Wilshaw – saxophone, flute
- Linda Lewis – backing vocals
- Juanita "Honey" Franklin – backing vocals
- G.A. MacCormack – backing vocals
Production personnel 
- David Bowie – producer, arrangements
- Ken Scott – producer, engineer
- Mick Moran – engineer
- Mick Ronson – arrangements
Compact disc releases 
Aladdin Sane was first released on CD in 1984 by RCA.
1990 Rykodisc/EMI 
1999 EMI/Virgin 
2003 EMI/Virgin 
In 2003, a 2-disc version was released by EMI/Virgin. The second in a series of 30th Anniversary 2CD Editions, as with the Ziggy Stardust 2-disc set, this release includes a remastered version of the first disc. The second disc contains ten tracks, a few of which had been previously released on CD as bonus tracks of the 1990–92 reissues.
Bonus CD (2003 EMI/Virgin) 
- "John, I'm Only Dancing" ('Sax' version) – 2:45
- "The Jean Genie" (Single mix for single A-side, 1972) – 4:07
- "Time" (Edit for single A-Side, 1973) – 3:43
- "All the Young Dudes" (Mono mix) – 4:12
- "Changes" (Live at Boston Music Hall, 1 October 1972) – 3:20
- "The Supermen" (Live at Boston Music Hall, 1 October 1972) – 2:42
- "Life on Mars?" (Live at Boston Music Hall, 1 October 1972) – 3:25
- "John, I'm Only Dancing" (Live at Boston Music Hall, 1 October 1972) – 2:40
- "The Jean Genie" (Live at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 20 October 1972) – 4:10 (From Live Santa Monica 72)
- "Drive-In Saturday" (Live at Cleveland Public Auditorium, 25 November 1972) – 4:53
Release history (selected) 
|United Kingdom (UK)||13 April 1973||RCA||LP||RS 1001|
|United States (U.S.)||13 April 1973||RCA||LP||AFL1 4852|
|U.S.||13 July 1990||Rykodisc||CD||RCD-10135|
|Worldwide (except U.S.)||July 1990||EMI||CD||EMC-3579/CDP 79 468 2|
|Worldwide||28 September 1999||EMI/Virgin||CD||7243 521902 0 1|
|Worldwide||26 May 2003
24 June 2003
|EMI/Virgin||2 CD 30th Anniversary Edition||72435 83012 2|
|1973||UK Albums Chart||1|
|1973||US Billboard Pop Albums||17|
|1973||Canadian RPM 100 Top Albums Chart||20|
|1973||Australian Kent Report Albums Chart||7|
|1973||Norway's album chart||11|
|1973||French Albums Chart||89|
|1972||"The Jean Genie"||UK Singles Chart||2|
|1972||"The Jean Genie"||Billboard Pop Singles||71|
|1973||"Let's Spend the Night Together"||Billboard Pop Singles||109|
|1973||"Drive-In Saturday"||UK Singles Chart||3|
|RIAA – US||Gold||3 August 1983|
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Ooh La La by The Faces
|UK number-one albums
5 May – 2 June 1973
Pure Gold by Various Artists