On this day in 1973 David Bowie gave the world his second, and perhaps lethal, dose of his rock and roll alien from outer space Ziggy Stardust, but this time in his new guise and with a new album titled, aptly, Aladdin Sane.
The album was Bowie’s sixth studio LP and saw him deliver another masterstroke of timing, performance and crowd control. He not only allowed his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust to experiment through jazz on the titular track, but Bowie allowed his own ego to swell across the tracks and dominate the character he had created for the purpose.
The album has hit tunes like ‘The Jean Genie’ and ‘Drive-In Saturday’ which may remain at the forefront of many fans’ minds, but where ‘Aladdin Sane’ became iconic was through it’s stunning imagery. The below shots were all taken by Brian Duffy, AKA “the man who shot the sixties” and became staples of pop culture. Forever remembered these shots will live on in history as archetypal portraits of a man who always refused to conform
The critics however were wholly unimpressed by the new album from Bowie, with the NME calling it “oddly unsatisfying, considerably less than the sum of the parts”. However, that hasn’t stopped it becoming one of the artist’s most recognisable LPs. In fact Bowie biographer Nicholas Pegg said it was “one of the most urgent, compelling and essential” releases from Dave from Brixton.
While Brixton may be at the root of the album, Bowie himself described the LP as “Ziggy goes to America” and true enough, most of the songs were written while on the US Ziggy tour. While technically known as another of Bowie’s character the protagonist of this album was an extension of Ziggy and thus faded in comparison to the sharp shooting of Stardust. This culminated in the death of Ziggy in July of 1973.
But in fact, where it may have ended the life and times of Ziggy Stardust it gave birth to Bowie in many ways. It gave him the opportunity to fully experiment with his sound and know that a responsive audience would be awaiting him. It allowed Bowie to change his attitude towards personas, no longer allowing them to dominate his artistic output, while also allowing Bowie to create one of the most iconic images ever made and cement Bowie as a cultural pillar of our society.
Aladdin Sane remains one of the best albums of Bowie’s career and possibly of all time. It’s progressive melodies and unhinged desperation for creation make it one of Bowie’s more personal pieces of work.