RCD 10132 The Man Who Sold The World
Produced by Tony Visconti
Released on January 1971
UK CHART POSITIONS #26 (1972), #64 (1983), #66 (1990)
. . . US CHART POSITION #25 (1973)
Find it at GEMM
RCD 10132 cover  

L urid, technicolor electric rock that explodes in the listener’s mind, The Man Who Sold The World is a great leap from the man-in-the-moon precocity of “Space Oddity” and its weakly whelped psychedelic litter. David Bowie had flirted with science fiction on his last album, but he consummates the relationship here by bedding such strange animals as supermen, madmen, gunmen, mountainmen and, of course, the man who sold the world. Safe inside his hallucinatory asylum, the artist throws out the rock & roll rule book and follows a map of his own making into uncharted territory. In other words, it’s here that the world bid welcome to the real Mr. Jones. Though Bowie’s show from beginning to end, a great debt is owed to the backing band, which now included future Spiders Mick Ronson and Mick Woodmansey. It’s they who help catapult Bowie into the rarefied air of over-the-top stars by delivering the right shades of subtlety and harshness, the brilliant set designers behind this amazing one-man musical. Otherwise the singer might have been peddling the same wares; “After All,” “All The Madmen,” “Saviour Machine” and “The Supermen” are clearly cut from the same cloth as his previous costume. But here are songs rendered not by mere men but musical warlocks whose brutality crushes the core of Bowie’s message and releases the hallucinogenic subtext hiding within his words. Few knew what “The Width of a Circle” amounted to, but many went along for the ride with no regrets afterward. Likewise the title track must have winked when we blinked, but we’re compelled to sadness out of a shared musical sympathy. It’s the directness of the music that still amazes: “She Shook Me Cold” evokes the shakes of withdrawal better than John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” ever could, “Running Gun Blues” runs through the mind of a renegade soldier like a kid through a candy store, “Black Country Rock” hits upon a sublime strangeness that even Marc Bolan had difficulty reaching. If you haven’t discovered this album yet, buy it by any means necessary. Me, I was lucky to have a wonderful Dad who thought enough of his strange son’s musical taste to add this to my collection while on a business trip in California. At the time, he recalled getting a strange look from the sales clerk at the record store (and that was with the tame B&W cover). I think the government uses record stores as a training ground for future DMV employees. I stood in the wrong line once at a DMV and I swear I got the “Omigod, you don’t actually still listen to Icehouse” look. The Rkyodisc remaster sounds wonderful by the way but the extra tracks are dispensable.

SR 61325 front cover AFL1-4816 front cover AFL1-4816 back cover AFL1-4816 lyric sleeve
SR 61325 front cover AFL1-4816 front cover AFL1-4816 back cover AFL1-4816 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. THE WIDTH OF A CIRCLE    8:07
  2. ALL THE MADMEN    5:38
  3. BLACK COUNTRY ROCK    3:33
  4. AFTER ALL    3:52
  5. RUNNING GUN BLUES    3:12
  6. SAVIOUR MACHINE    4:27
  7. SHE SHOOK ME COLD    4:13
  8. THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD    3:58
  9. THE SUPERMEN    3:39

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  10. LIGHTNING FRIGHTENING    3:38
  11. HOLY HOLY    2:20
  12. MOONAGE DAYDREAM    3:52
  13. HANG ONTO YOURSELF    2:51

    All songs written by David Bowie

CREDITS

DAVID BOWIE -- guitar, vocals
RALPH MACE -- moog synthesizer
MICK RONSON -- guitar
TONY VISCONTI -- electric bass, piano, guitar
MICK WOODMANSEY -- drums
Ken Scott -- engineer

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK 1970? RCA LP INTS 5237  
US January 1971 Mercury LP SR 61325 unique cover
UK/US November 1972? RCA LP LSP-4816 lyric sleeve, poster
CAN 1972 RCA 8T PS-2103  
US   RCA LP AFL1-4816 lyric sleeve, B&W cover
US   RCA LP AYL1-4816  
GER   RCA LP NL 84654  
UK April 1983 RCA LP/CS LSP-4816 black label
US 1990 Rykodisc LPX/CSX/CDX RALP/RACS 01322/
RCD 10132
digital remaster w. bonus tracks,
lyric sleeve, clear vinyl
BRA 1990 EMI LPX 791 837 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
JPN 1990 EMI CDX TOCP-6203 digital remaster w. bonus tracks,
lyric sleeve
UK 1999 EMI CD 521 9010 digital remaster w. booklet
UK 2001 Simply Vinyl LPLE SVLP 264 limited edition 180 gram vinyl

 

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