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David Bowie - The Man Who Sold The World CD (album) cover


David Bowie


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4.00 | 338 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
4 stars It must have been a shock to the system for fans of Bowie's Space Oddity release to hear something like this as his follow-up. Embracing the harder edged rock scene burgeoning in Britain, this album is as much about Mick Ronson's heavy guitarwork as it is Bowie's songwriting and lyrics, which are dark and rife with a paranoid atmosphere. Fitting for the year 1970. It's pretty much the furthest Bowie would embrace hard rock, although much of the credit should be given to the producer, who had a large hand in this release as Bowie had his new wife on his mind much of the time during the recording and didn't completely oversee the album's construction. The results, nevertheless, are a gas.

Growing up in the US, I never saw the original UK cover of Bowie in that man-dress back in the day, but instead the black and white Ziggy sleeve was how I remember this effort. Funny how it was considered that the US wouldn't go for the original UK cover. I suppose the US fought a war against Britain a couple of hundred years ago to be spared that sort of thing. Well, he did interviews in that sort of getup in the US, so tough luck on that!

"The Width of a Circle" opens things with some feedback before launching into an energetic groove with a space rock aura at times. It's long, but moves and shifts often enough to feel like a much shorter tune. "All the Madmen" is another beast with proggy elements and a non- formulaic song structure. Great stuff. Mick puts on a showcase during many of these songs, particularly concerning the opening track and the latter half of "She Shook Me Cold" where his soloing sounds like a hybrid of the solos in "Voodoo Chile" and "Dazed And Confused".

Despite the overall loud volume, there is plenty of variety and mellower tunes to complement the straight up rockers, such as "After All" which is a nice bit of respite from the aggression. The title track, which unfortunately is considered by some as "that Nirvana song", is a well deserved classic, not a full on rocker but has a non-poppish attitude while being incredibly catchy with a killer guitar hook.

The album ends with a song that has an H.P. Lovecraft vibe (the writer, not the band) and Bowie seriously gets into the lyrics. It's dark and more than a bit odd and it's sung with such an exaggerated accent that VdGG's frontman must have thought "Is that dude making fun of me?"

Despite not being an iconic album to the extent that a few of his other works achieved, it's one of his most thrilling and entertaining. It may not be the first album to get when discovering the man's work, but maybe after checking a couple of his widely heralded releases, don't pass this up.

Prog Sothoth | 4/5 |


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