Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
David Bowie - Aladdin Sane CD (album) cover


David Bowie

Prog Related

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share

"A Lad Insane" was written on the roads during the extensive "Ziggy" tour. But David was extremely busy in those days. Not only is he reaching the stardom he was looking for since the mid sixties as a band leader/solo artist.

He co-produced (with Ronson) another great album in 1972. "Transformer" form his mate Lou Reed. And as a fan (as I was), he wanted to help another one of his idol. The charismatic Ian Hunter, the front man of "Mott The Hoople".

In those days, the Hoople was in an all-time low (actually, they never lift off). Bowie proposed them "Suffragette City" but they didn't take it. Then came "All The Young Dudes". THE glam-rock anthem. And it will peak at the third spot of the UK charts. The Hoople were launched.For the best of us all.

The third and by far the most complex album is the one with Iggy & The Stooges. David is producing that one as well. As the name shows "Raw Power" won't be a great example of subtlety. But it will be a landmark of the rock history.

During the US leg of the Ziggy tour, the band is traveling by bus (David feared the plane in those times) and this long trip will inspire him for six of the songs form this album. One can follow their route while reading the titles of the songs on the sleeve. From New-York ("Watch That Man") to L.A. ("Cracked Actor").

"A Lad In Sane / Aladin Sane" is the most rocking album from Bowie. Seriously influenced by the Stones and the simple but so effective Richards riffs. It is actually a vibrant homage to rock (he will confirm this in his next album "Pin- Ups", but that's another story).

The most experimental track of the whole is definitely the title track. Decadent and chaotic, this song is totally different from the rest of the album. The piano play, the jazzy feeling is a huge contrast here. An excellent piece of music.

With "Drive-In Saturday" (originally written as a follow-up to "All The Young Dudes" for Hoople) David got back to the apocalyptical atmosphere which contrast with some doo-wop influence. A post-nuclear drive-in movie party during which the audience made up of mutants can watch how to make love. Because they forgot how to do it.. A kind of simulation before going bed.A highlight.

The rocking mood goes on with "Panic In Detroit". It is depicting the wild environment of the city. With an excess of violent lyrics: "Found him slumped across the table. A gun and me alone, I ran to the window. Looked for a plane or two. Panic in Detroit"

Inevitably, L.A. will inspire "Cracked Actor". A harsh description of the showbiz: "You sold me illusions for a sack full of cheques. You've made a bad connection 'cause I just want your sex". Might well have happened.

The B-side opens on another great song. My fave (in conjunction with another Genie one). It is a complex one, cabaret-like oriented, decadent as well with the omni-presence of a fantastic piano play. The finale is truly bombastic and pompous. "Time" of course is another highlight.

The next song "The Prettiest Star" is an old one that David wrote in 1970 for Angie. On the original single version (which was a complete flop) Marc Bolan was playing the guitar. It is another one of the very good songs of this album, but a bit lost compared to so phenomenal other great ones.

How can you be more Stones oriented than covering one of their songs? And one of the most sulfurous ones, which is probably not chosen at random? Here you go with "Let's Spend The Night Together".

Now, "The Jean Genie".

This one hold a particular place in my heart. It is thanks to this song that I was put in contact with Bowie for the very first time in 1973. It was aired quite a lot on the Belgian radio ("Formule J"). I succumbed immediately and it was the start of a loooooong story. Infectious riff, hard-rocking beat, wild. Perfect.

It is Bowie's biggest hit single (peaking at the second spot in the UK, just after "Blockbuster" from Sweet which was using a similar type of riff). This album will reach the number one spot. In my heart as well.

Did I say masterpiece?

Report this review (#174856)
Posted Sunday, June 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Essential Bowie! Along with a lot of other Bowie albums of course. Although it's a slight dip in quality from the previous three masterpieces, this is a real feast for music fans. I should warn you, though, that there is very little prog here, and the string arrangements and mellotron have gone. The Spiders from Mars are still his band, and Mick Ronson still packs the best punch of the pack, with his super glammed-up riffs. Mike Garson on piano is an excellent addition to the team, giving more than one absolutely memorable performances. Bowie takes on the persona of Aladdin Sane (obviously), a continuation of the Ziggy Stardust character, only more alien-like.

'Watch That Man' kicks off with a lot of energy, and sets the tone as a pure glam rock song. The mix is a bit unorthodox, with vocals very low, but this adds to the atmosphere, and it really feels like party time with this song on. 'Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)' is a more interesting track, with some of the most impressive piano playing this side of J. S. Bach! The piano solo takes the form of avant-garde jazz, and the rest of the song is very dreamy and odd. 'Drive-In Saturday' is what Bowie calls a futuristic nostalgia song, and was a hit single. It's very interesting lyrics tell a story about a society where reproduction is forgotten about and has to be relearned. Mick Jagger and Carl Jung are name checked here, among others. 'Panic in Detroit' is the weak link in a strong chain. It is typical glam rock, but there is nothing here to keep my attention. 'Cracked Actor' on the other hand, is glam done right: catchy energetic and oversexed. 'Time' is a brilliant song taking a very dark cabaret style. David dares an expletive or two here, making this song very controversial. The piano, once again is fabulous. 'The Prettiest Star' is a love song of high quality. Not a standout, but a good song. 'Let's Spend the Night Together' is a Rolling Stones cover, which I prefer to the original. The pure energy shown by Ronson is amazing and the song is reinterpretted into the language of glam rock. 'The Jean Genie' is a single with a killer riff, and far out, science fiction lyrics. Translate that last sentence as 'the essence of classic Bowie'. 'Lady Grinning Soul' was intended for a James Bond film, but was rejected. What a shame, because the sexy class shining from the song, would fit perfectly. Here we get... a great performance from Mike Garson!!!

For a Bowie fan this is an essential album. Alos essential for glam fans, and most classic rock fans. A prog fan would find little of interest here, although Bowie covers several genres.

I would recomend it to anyone who wants to hear some good music really, but because of a weak link or two, I will award it four stars.

I would like to dedicate this review to the late, great Mick Ronson. A guitarist from my own home city in England, he deserves a special mention in regards to his work with Bowie. As the second greatest Hullensian (in terms of Chronological order and importance) he deserves a lot more respect than he gets.

Report this review (#174976)
Posted Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Another classic Bowie album, another metamorphosis and giant leap forward in new directions. David Bowie reinventing himself or repurposing for want of a better word on the Aladdin Sane release. Vibrant energetic sounds so influential to progressive sounds in the 70's and 80's. I often think of Bowie and the Beatles as similar in terms of creative output affecting music either subconcously or consciously respectively. Therefore Bowie being a much more subtle influence on his musical peers. Aladdin Sane carried so much clout that it carries the essential tag and IMO always will. The album kicks off with the Watch That Man immediately showing that this guy mean't business and the album gets better and better. Check out Drive In - Saturday and Prettiest Star. It also goes without saying that the Jean Genie is probably the next most famous song alongside Space Oddity and dare I say - China Girl. As I said this is essential listening.
Report this review (#176905)
Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an essential David Bowie. Here he's at the height of his glam rock phase. This is a Bowie masterpiece. But,not at all prog. Bowie delivers throughout the whole album. All the way from ''Watch That to Man'' to ''Lady Grinning Soul''. Its an enjoyable Glam Rock record. But if you're looking for prog not really the album you want.
Report this review (#178006)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have a different approach than the preceding two collab reviews, both rating Aladdin Sane five stars. I'm not arguing if this is considered to be an Important Classic. I recognize elements of innovation on this album, and as the follower of the famous Ziggy Stardust album (which must have laid some pressure for the next release) it finds Bowie once again expanding his artistic expression. There are three standout tracks for me: 'Aladdin Sane' with its fiery, insane piano work is amazing piece of art rock. 'Time' is one of my favourite Bowie songs, very theatrical and quite progressive in structure. It's all too little-known gem in Bowie's discography. And the closing song 'Lady Grinning Soul' I also like a lot. These tracks represent the more artistic side of the album, with some sort of continental Cabaret feeling. Interesting, because this album was mainly written in the United States (during the Ziggy tour), as the city names following the titles reveal.

Personally I'm not very fond of the other material. 'Drive-in-Saturday' comes close to the better side but it has too sticky chorus repeated too much towards the end. 'The Prettiest Star' - written for Angie, best known as Mick Jagger's sweetheart - is otherwise a nice little song but I hate the way it repeats the phrase in the end. Which is followed by nothing else than a Rolling Stones cover 'Let's Spend the Night Together'. I couln't be less interested. (Well, I do like SOME of the Stones songs but definitely this one is not among them.) The remaining tracks are mostly rocking and not up to my taste. So please note that my rating is highly subjective. If the whole album was as great as the highlights, I even might consider five stars.

Report this review (#182645)
Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars What in the world could David Bowie have done to compete with his previous Ziggy Stardust record? Talk about a hard act to follow! But Aladdin sane is a wonderful album in it's own right. My favorite tracks being Aladdin sane and Panic in Detroit. Bowies sideman Mike Garson is an avant garde pianist who, like Keith Tippett, paved the way for the odd and unusual atonal piano in progressive rock and roll. Sounds fantastic. Bowies band members were never given much attention but Mick Ronsons studio guitar work always sounded real good to me. Then I saw Bowie live once in the 70's and Mick did not sound so good. Maybe he was having a bad day. Woody Woodmansey was the drummers name in case you ever wondered.

Aladdin sane seems a hodgepodge of leftover tracks from the Ziggy stardust projects creative output. I used to enjoy this album much more than I do now and I guess I have to say that about all of David Bowies records. As I get older his works seem to become dated for some reason and this is sad because I once loved Bowies pre Young American works. He's about the only classic 70s era artist I've outgrown.

Still a great album and still worth a few stars. I wonder what the thin white duke is doing these days?

Report this review (#197611)
Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Bowie has all different periods ( in sense of music) during his long career. "Aladdin Sane" isn't his earlier sound ( as "Honky Dory"), but still far away from "Berlin Trilogy "with Eno influenced synth-dark-ambient spices. What we have here , is typical Bowie's glam-rock: in fact mix of hard-rock, rock'n'roll and proto-punk ( in early Iggy Pop style).

Is this album as good as many are thinking? I am not sure. I like Bowie's music , he is one of my music heroes, but is this theatrical rock'n'roll show important for prog listener? I think not too much.

Yes, Bowie put many interesting elements in his music there, even cabaret! OK, I agree, you can see ( and even hear) some rock-cirkus there. And? Iggy Pop in some his albums doing similar things even better ( and he is more innovative in fact transfering proto-punk to real punk-rock). He has some very strong albums. Do we have "Iggy Pop shelf" there in Progarchives?

Yse, in his own manner this Bowie album isn't bad. Decadance atmosphere, his voice, lyrics - all that makes album important, especially in historical sense. But musically the album is below average, sorry!

Recommended: to Bowie hot-fans, decadance music lovers ( but Tom Waits is far better!).

Not-recommended: to any, who will try to find even small tracks of prog there

Report this review (#238222)
Posted Wednesday, September 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another glam rock Bowie release, another review, how does this fare up to his older work? Quite well actually. Although not an essential album its still a great pop album with decent songs with catchy hooks and great musicmanship. Standout tracks include DRIVE-IN SATURDAY, THE PRETTIEST STAR and of course the classic THE JEAN GENIE, all pop masterpieces and just grest Bowie songs in general, the rest of the tracks on this release are not bad, just not the strongest material Bowie has ever released, but thats just my opinion they just never really held my attention that much;

Watch That Man New York - 6/10 Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) -7/10 Drive-In Saturday - 9/10 Panic in Detroit - 6/10 Cracked Actor - 6/10 Time New Orleans - 5/10 The Prettiest Star - 9/10 Let's Spend the Night Together - 6/10 The Jean Genie - 10/10 Lady Grinning Soul - 7/10

My Conclusion? not all of this album really kept me listening as the songs featured were not as strong as say the first 2 Bowie albums, its not a bad release, just not fantastic, still gets a decent 3 stars.

Report this review (#283112)
Posted Saturday, May 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars An excellent follow up to the Ziggy and the Spiders album. This LP's harder, with more bass and is a bit more raw in sound - but none the worse for it. 'Aladdin Sane' zips from heavy Glam Rock to the very unusual in the form of the title track, which is clearly the best tune on the album, replete with some bonkers, in your face, frantic piano by Mick Ronson. I'll always remember this album for the superb and sleazy "Time" with its sexually explicit lyrics which caused great embarrassment to me in '85 when I was 15 when my mum overheard this coming from my bedroom... I've been scarred for life... The whole album sounds SO 70's and a world apart from the groundbreaking Berlin trilogy he'll record from '76 to '79. That's not to say it's bad... I love this album despite it's obvious shortcomings. It's so dated that it's almost back in fashion. Massive in the 70's, hated in the eighties, liked in the nineties, and now looked upon like a kind old uncle smoking a pipe in the 00's The best thing about 'Aladdin Sane' is the wonderful iconic cover. It's how Bowie will be remembered in history
Report this review (#287492)
Posted Sunday, June 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is an interesting case in that my reaction to it is largely the opposite of how I end up reacting to a lot of Bowie albums. That is, instead of remembering the album fondly in my gut, only to feel inevitable disappointment when I go back and listen to the album, I end up enjoying this album while it's on but later find myself going, "Aladdin Sane, why the hell would I want to listen to that?" or thereabouts. Yet while this album is a little short on classics, and awfully long on Stones, um, "homages" (and that's not just with the cover of "Let's Spend the Night Together," which kinda mutilates the original but has a lot of charm, even with the orgasm guitar noises in the end), the songs work together well enough to ensure this a high rating.

Aside from the Stones cover, the three songs on here that tend to get the most attention are the title track, "Time" and "The Jean Genie." The title track (full title = "Aladdin Sane (1913- 1938-197?), where the first two years were right before the beginning of the World Wars, suggesting WW3 was imminent, I guess) is Bowie at his genre-smooshing best, as he manages to create a sort of psychedelic torch-jazz ballad that ends up featuring one of the most insane avant-garde jazz piano parts ever to make it into the realm of rock music. I'm the first to admit that I might not fully admire that piano solo on its own or in other contexts, but here, over the insistent beat (kinda reminding me of how, in the Roxy Music song "If There is Something," the music changes so dramatically over the course of the song while the beat never changes), it sounds amazing. "Time" is also an interesting inclusion, based more in early Broadway/Vaudeville (at least, towards my understanding of the early parts of those genres) than in rock music (even though Ronson's guitar work largely corrects the imbalance, and provides some of the most memorable parts of the song), and featuring great imagery in phrases like "Time - he flexes like a whore / falls wanking to the floor" and "... in quaaludes and red wine." I know that a lot of people like to trash the song for being overly melodramatic, and they probably have a point, but this is a case where I mostly lean in a more positive direction. And finally, "The Jean Genie," of course, was the album's big hit single, but truth be told I'd have never guessed that was the case without being told. Whatever, it's a good enough straight-ahead rock song with more naughty lyrics, and I can see why it's universally liked.

The rest of the songs aren't especially fantastic on their own, but they work pretty well in aggregate, even though I'm still not sure to what end. The opening "Watch That Man" is Bowie and Ronson practically jumping out of their shoes to make their own version of a typical Stones rocker, and while they don't really beat the masters at their own game (I feel like the song is a little too long for the material), it's a fun way to start the album. "Drive in Saturday" is basically a slightly tweaked doo-wop song, and while it definitely doesn't leave much of an impression once it's done, Bowie's delivery is goofy enough (and with interesting enough lyrics, I suppose) that I can enjoy it while it's on. "Panic in Detroit" is the kind of "social commentary" about American cities that could only be done by somebody who's only seen American cities on TV or in movies, but while it's sort of ridiculous, it's fun to hear an urgent quasi-post-apocalyptic rocker set to a Bo Diddley beat. "Cracked Actor" almost seems a little too pleased with itself in its critique of commercial popularity etc, but there is a strangely attractive sense of urgency in the combination of the chorus and the pounding beat. It's nowhere near a classic, but it's nice enough. Among the ballads, "The Prettiest Star" is a decent enough pop-ballad, but nowhere near the standard of beauty set by something like "Lady Stardust," but the closing "Lady Grinning Soul" has a lot of moody atmosphere that hooks me in, especially when David sings, "she will be your living end."

Ultimately, rating this one is kind of a major pain, though ultimately I feel somewhat comfortable about the **** rating. Is it clearly a good album? Yeah. Should any Bowie fan have this? Yeah. Should any general fan of rock music have this? ... ... Probably, yeah. Do I feel any impact from this album once I'm done with it, apart from a couple of songs? Not really. Do I have anything resembling an "Aladdin Sane mood?" I really doubt it.

Report this review (#291193)
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars This is an album that was suppose to prove to all the new David Bowie fans that Ziggy Stardust wasn't just a one time occurrence and, according to all the praise that Aladdin Sane has received over the years, it did exactly that. Unfortunately I just don't see it! To me this sounds like such an obvious stab at the same formula but, without the great arsenal of material to back it up, this album falls pretty much flat on its back from early on.

The album opener Watch That Man is just a brainless rocker when compared to Five Years and even though Lady Grinning Soul is pretty much the only worth a while number from the whole release, it still can't compare to the impact of Rock 'n' Roll Suicide! The rest of the tracks in between these two range from great to decent to not so much. I mean, there was a definite stab at the Rolling Stones sound on Ziggy Stardust but with Aladdin Sane Bowie and the Spiders from Mars have pretty much become their cover band. I'm not merely referring to the actual cover of Let's Spend The Night Together but also the upbeat rock numbers like Watch That Man, Cracked Actor and The Jean Genie. Together, they take up nearly half the album and the rest is then filled out mostly by ballads that don't exactly make Aladdin Sane sound like a step forward from its predecessor.

I'm clearly not a big fan of this album but I wouldn't exactly call it a disaster either. It's just that I don't get what the critics and fans see in this material that I so obviously happen to not gasp. My occasional revisits haven't exactly helped me get a better understanding for Aladdin Sane so I guess there isn't really much use in trying any more. There are so many great David Bowie albums that one should experience before taking a stab at this clone of the Ziggy Stardust concept that you might just as well skip it all together!

***** star songs: Lady Grinning Soul (3:52)

**** star songs: Watch That Man (4:30) Aladdin Sane (5:08) Drive-In Saturday (4:36) Panic In Detroit (4:28) Time (5:15) The Prettiest Star (3:31) The Jean Genie (4:07)

*** star songs: Cracked Actor (3:02) Let's Spend The Night Together (3:10)

Report this review (#306766)
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aladdin Sane is the perfect counterpart to Ziggy Stardust; to put it quite simply, whilst Ziggy Stardust was about the dream of being a futuristic rock star, Aladdin Sane was about the reality of it. Composed during a tour of America, Bowie infuses his glam rock model with a rich dose of Americana, in all flavours from doo-wop to proto-punk to soul, and in doing so adds a generous dose of hard rock to the mix. The result is an album which is a perfect counterpart to its predecessor, trashy where Ziggy was debonair, lewd where Ziggy was coy, and brash and aggressive where Ziggy was gentle and playful. A fine entry to Bowie's run of classic albums.
Report this review (#504259)
Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars David Bowie's Hunky Dory and the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust usually receive more acclaim but Aladdin Sane was the peak of his heavily influential glam rock phase. It's essentially a development of Ziggy Stardust, and although it doesn't share the same thematic flow it should be notable for its deeper exploration of unusual styles such as avant-garde jazz in the title track and Brechtian cabaret in "Time". There are many other progressive structures (doo-wop, blues and rock'n' roll all play integral parts in the album) making up the sleek, sexy artrock sound. An absolute favourite is the flamenco ballad "Lady Grinning Soul", which was inspired by singer Claudia Linnear. Check out Mike Garson's acclaimed piano work throughout. As for the songwriting and lyrical depth here, Aladdin Sane is also one of Bowies most ambitious, compelling and intimate releases ever! The album is a pun on "A Lad Insane", which reflects his chaotic lifestyle while touring America. All this somehow helped me get through my teenage angst! Essential Bowie!
Report this review (#614046)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Bowie's best album is an absolute classic of rock history featuring his cynical rock god anti-hero Ziggy Stardust in all his glam glory. Of course the legendary album was a milestone for Bowie and he took up the persona on stage with both barrells loaded. The music is glam rock and proto-punk with futuristic psych all rolled into one.

The rock comes thick and fast from the outset with the catchy 'Watch That Man' and then into the high falsetto of 'Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)'. 'Panic in Detroit' is a sensational rocker with loud vocals and brash guitar. Ronson is dynamic throughout on fuzz guitar especially on 'Cracked Actor'. I always liked the storyteller vocals of 'Time'. 'Let's Spend the Night Together' is a Rolling Stones cover that I never liked. However I adore the riff heavy guitar in 'The Jean Genie'. It is virtually the same riff as T-Rex's 'New York City' though I do not know which came first. The lyrics are compelling and I always loved the line; "keeps all your dead hair for making up underwear, poor little greenie" and "smiles like a reptile, sleeps in a capsule." The nonsense of the lyrics always appealed to a young teen who was sick to death of the lovey dovey sap on the radio at the time.

Thanks Bowie for putting music back into the hands of the listeners, and doing it in style.

Report this review (#615507)
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have to admit, when it comes to Bowie, I'm only really a fan of certain eras. Don't get me wrong, I admire him and have always supported anything he has done over the past few years, but like anyone, I do have preferences, and when it comes to the Ziggy era...I'm not the biggest fan.

Don't get me wrong, some absolute belters came from this era, and some of them can even be seen on this album, but I really did prefer Bowie just before and during the Berlin era...and the period before Ziggy.

But...because this is the end of Ziggy period, there is a slight difference. While "The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders Of Mars" is more of a glam rock album full of catchy songs and single based material...this album is more of an art rock take on Ziggy. A lot of this art rock influence is very important whenever comparing the album to it's own concept.

Yes...this is Ziggy in America. So, while leaving Britain behind with T-Rex, Sweet, Slade and Mud to wear the make up, Bowie went to America to bring the glam to the States. Now, at this time, USA was overrun with art rockers and proto punkers, like Iggy Pop, The Velvet Underground ect. Obviously, being the Pop Art whore he is, Bowie jumped at the chance to make acquaintances and borrowed a lot of ideas and sounds from these bands and artists.

The lyrics of the album also show of this new influence. With references to the culture of the states and rather suggestive lyrics depicting sex and drugs. I really don't know how Bowie got away with a lot of the stuff he says on these songs, especially it being released in the early 70s.

The album opener "Watch That Man" is the perfect symbiosis of glam and art rock. In fact, at times it reminds very much of something Roxy Music would have came up with (Roxy would release their first album a few months after the release of this quaint and odd).

The title track is one of the most interesting moments on the album. With an odd arrangement and crazy piano accompaniment, it really showed off Bowie's unique and progressing song writing style.

Songs like "Cracked Actor" and "Drive-In Saturday" show more of a comical and upbeat side to the album. Nice stories painted with the lyrics and very vivid imagery at times can be portrayed.

Oddly enough, a Rolling Stones cover, "Let's Spend The Night Together" can be found on this album. I'm not sure why, but it probably is one of the weakest moments on the album.

The last song "Lady Grinning Soul" would have to be a personal favourite of mine. A brilliant and impressive vocal performance from Bowie, with some pretty stellar piano playing.

In conclusion, there may not have been more singles on this album, but compared to "The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders Of Mars", this overall is a more accomplished album, with a more palatable and unique tone throughout.


Report this review (#1005181)
Posted Thursday, July 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars David Bowie rocks with an immediately enjoyable, early '70's sound with this stylish, nuanced, and sometimes raucous album. Aladdin Sane is a crowd-pleasing experience which may not measure very high in the "prog" scale, but offers up classic rock gems that artfully show us why the early seventies are probably the best years in music. It will appeal to most listeners at a variety of levels: as energetic background music with a bottom-heavy feel, a cynical yet melodious indictment of pop-culture, or as darkly playful art rock. I fall in the third category.

While there are enjoyable musical moments throughout, the standouts for me include the hot and heavy "Watch That Man," which has layers and layers of sound with a pleasing bass guitar groove. The title song features wonderfully disjointed rhythms and soloing, courtesy pianist Mike Garson. This song sort if sets the tongue-in-cheek tone that I picked up on in many of the other songs. The combination of sax and piano, as well as numerous backing vocals, help make this more than just a straight-ahead rock album. Mike Ronson's guitar shines in his use of feedback, and especially in the solo on "Panic in Detroit." "Time" may be the most interesting track on the album; it's ambitious, lyrically creative, and uses a smart sense of pacing to build to a layered conclusion. This, and the textured ballad "Lady Grinning Soul," which concludes the album, make for a varied and highly enjoyable listening experience.

As for Bowie himself: he's actually quite incomparable. As someone who's never listened to his works, it's easy to hear why his career is discussed with such respect. He's a wonderful singer, with passionate phrasing, inflection, and use of tonal changes to create emotion. His lyrics in this record are thoughtful without pretense, and even when at their bawdiest, they retain a sharpness and wit.

A great combination of musical sounds that will appeal to rock fans of many stripes. Definitely not prog, but definitely not "normal" rock, either. A worthy addition to any classic rockers library, and perfect diversion from the prog-minded listener.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#1608121)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Classic rock, although not as good as Ziggy.

On this album, Bowie continues in the same vein as on Ziggy Stardust, even to the point of essentially continuing to play the same character, and to write songs from this vantage point. The result is another classic Bowie rock'n'roll album, with many radio hits, but without the concept, and with an eye on the poppier side of rock, this one can't match the standards set by the previous album. It seems to me that this had to be written relatively quickly in between touring and the many interviews that Bowie had to give, now that he was a confirmed rock star, and the musicality suffers a bit. Not to say that this is a bad album - it is in fact the epitome of a classic rock album. But this includes writing the material fast and for a radio audience. "Jean Jeanie" is/was the big hit, and while it did its part in changing social norms (and for Bowie's brand), it is just not that musical. The opening song ('Watch that Man') and the title track ('Aladdin Sane', or a lad insane) are among the best here. However, there is also much filler, and really nothing stands up to sheer quality and innovativeness of 'Hunky Dory'. This is not an album that I can, after so many years, listen to all the way through any more. I give this one 6.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1698168)
Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars Aladdin Sane is not a radical departure from the previous album however it is less demanding and revolutionary. Glam rock could best describe the style displayed here. After the first forgettable track, we have "Aladding Sane" that remind me of Steely Dan with the jazzy feeling. You can't miss the incredible avantgarde piano solo that is outside of rock realm. Saxophone free solo is also noteworthy.

"Drive-in Saturday" also has a fine melody and grove including pleasing saxophone.

"Time" has a piano staccato chords but also provides great support with more experimental parts. "The prettiest star" has a typical Bowie flavour, saxophone and melody. Next two songs are quite Stonesy although only one of them is their cover.

The album with highlights but not nearly as good as Hunky Dory or The rise...

Report this review (#2311906)
Posted Sunday, February 2, 2020 | Review Permalink

DAVID BOWIE Aladdin Sane ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of DAVID BOWIE Aladdin Sane

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives