LP, 50th Anniversary, Half Speed Master
Parlophone (2023) WW
Originally released in 1973, Aladdin Sane came right at the height of David Bowie's new superstar status and followed up the breakthrough Ziggy Stardust. It's also the final album on which the Spiders' classic lineup of Mick Ronson (guitar, piano, backing vocals), Trevor Bolder (bass), and Mick ‘Woody' Woodmansey (drums) appears and marks the debut of one of avant-jazz pianist Mike Garson. In addition to vocals, Bowie plays guitar, harmonica, keyboards and saxophone on a set that has more than stood the test of time.
Described by Bowie as "Ziggy goes to America," Aladdin Sane saw him create a rockier, more frenetic album than its predecessor, with the Rolling Stones a possible influence on album opener "Watch That Man" and a transgressive cover of their song, "Let's Spend the Night Together." Elsewhere, Muddy Waters' influence is heard in the riff of the UK No. 2 single "The Jean Genie" and "futuristic nostalgia" of "Drive-In Saturday."
"Cracked Actor," possibly Bowie's most decadent moment, was written after he had toured Hollywood Boulevard, translating the images and environment into raw rock n' roll. The addition of Garson and his remarkable talents, infuse some of the album's key tracks, in particular the title track with its dissonant improvisation, the Brechtian cabaret of "Time," and album closer "Lady Grinning Soul" with an edgy, schizophrenic quality.
Aladdin Sane marks its 50th anniversary with a half-speed mastered vinyl LP reissue. The cover artwork has become one of the most famous sleeves of all time and was rumored to be the most expensive produced up to that point. The cover photograph was taken by Brian Duffy, who would also shoot the sleeves for 1979's Lodger and 1980's Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) and features Bowie with the iconic red and blue lightning bolt make-up, an image which has now entered the planet's cultural lexicon.