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The Man Who Sold the World – David Bowie

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The Man Who Sold The World

(1970), 6.5/10
In 1969 David Bowie gained some recognition with the single ‘Space Oddity’, but the accompanying self-titled album flopped and at the time of The Man Who Sold The World Bowie was still a relatively obscure figure. Although The Man Who Sold The World did nothing to change this, it’s a step forward artistically. One key to Bowie’s improvement is guitarist Mick Ronson, later a huge player in the Ziggy Stardust band.

Despite the cross dressing cover, The Man Who Sold The World couldn’t accurately be described as glam; it’s more like geeky hard rock, with a dash of musical hall and psychedelic pop thrown in. It’s an interesting album, but the material is inconsistent; the title track is easily the most famous song here, mostly courtesy of Nirvana’s cover version on their Unplugged album. ‘The Supermen’ has a great guitar break courtesy of Ronson, while the eight minute opener ‘The Width Of A Circle’ drags a little, but builds up steam in the music hall derived coda.

The Man Who Sold The World is hardly among Bowie’s best albums, but it’s also somewhat overlooked so most of it should be fresh to listeners; it’s worth picking up to hear Bowie on the cusp of success and just about to find his artistic feet.

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