|Song by David Bowie|
|from the album Aladdin Sane|
|Released||13 April 1973|
|Genre||Art rock, glam rock|
|Producer(s)||Ken Scott, David Bowie|
"Aladdin Sane (1913–1938–197?)" is a song by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, the title track from his 1973 album Aladdin Sane . Described by biographer David Buckley as the album's "pivotal" song, it saw Bowie moving into more experimental musical styles following the success of his breakthrough glam rock release The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972.
The name is a pun on "A Lad Insane" and it was inspired by Bowie's half-brother Terry, who had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic.An early variation was "Love Aladdin Vein", which Bowie dropped partly because of its drug connotations. The dates in parentheses refer to the years preceding World War I and World War II, with the third unknown date reflecting Bowie’s belief in an impending World War III.
The title has been rendered a number of ways on different releases since 1973. The original vinyl issue of Aladdin Sane listed it as "Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)", followed by "RHMS Ellinis", the name of the ship on which it was written, in keeping with Bowie's practice on the album of indicating the origin of each track. The coda includes a quote from the song "On Broadway", and on the compilation album Changestwobowie (1981) it appeared in liner notes as "Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)/On Broadway", co-credit going to Mann, Weil, Leiber and Stoller.On the 1990 Rykodisc CD reissue the track was referred to as simply "Aladdin Sane", but subsequent CD reissues of the album in 1999, 2003 and 2013 restored the "Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)" title.
Bowie wrote "Aladdin Sane" in December 1972 as he sailed back to the UK following the first leg of his US Ziggy Stardust tour. The subject matter was inspired by a book he was reading, Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies (later filmed as Bright Young Things , a phrase that also appears in the song's lyrics). Bowie saw in Waugh's story of "frivolous, decadent and silly" behaviour on the eve of "imminent catastrophe" a reflection of contemporary society, particularly in America.At Bridge School Benefit X in 1996, Bowie played the song acoustically and reflected that the song was "about young people, just before the two wars, wanting to go and screw girls and kill foreigners."
The song features a piano solo by Mike Garson,an American keyboardist who had recently joined Bowie's band. Bowie politely rejected Garson’s initial solo attempts, one in a blues style, the other Latin, asking the pianist for something akin to "the avant-garde jazz scene in the 60s". Garson obliged with the performance heard on the album, improvised and recorded in one take. In 1999, he remarked:
I've had more communication in the last 26 years about that one solo than the 11 albums I've done on my own, the six that I've done with another group that I'm co-leader of, hundreds of pieces I've done with other people and the 3,000 pieces of music I've written to date. I don't think there's been a week in those 26 years that have gone by without someone, somewhere, asking me about it!
Garson remembered Bowie's guidance in making the solo come out the way it did:
I had told Bowie about the avant-garde thing. When I was recording the "Aladdin Sane" track for Bowie, it was just two chords, an A and a G chord, and the band was playing very simple English rock and roll. And Bowie said: 'play a solo on this.' I had just met him, so I played a blues solo, but then he said: 'No, that’s not what I want.' And then I played a latin solo. Again, Bowie said: 'No no, that’s not what I want.' He then continued: 'You told me you play that avant-garde music. Play that stuff!' And I said: 'Are you sure? ‘Cause you might not be working anymore!'. So I did the solo that everybody knows today, in one take. I always tell people that Bowie is the best producer I ever met, because he lets me do my thing.
Rolling Stone's contemporary review described the music as "hothouse orientalism, jagged, dissonant and daring, yet also wistful and backward-looking".Writing in 1981, NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray considered the song "one of Bowie's early 'European' pieces", while comparing Garson’s piano playing to Cecil Taylor. Reviewing the 30th Anniversary Edition of Aladdin Sane in 2003, Sydney Morning Herald music critic Bernard Zuel also related the track to the composer's later work, finding the "to-and-fro between art and dramatic pop in the song provides a bridge between Bowie's pre-fame leanings and his mid-'70s decamp to Berlin". Biographer David Buckley has said that at the time of its release "Aladdin Sane" was "the clearest indicator of how Bowie was trying to free himself from the confines of rock".
A track now referred to as "Zion" has also appeared on bootlegs under the titles "Aladdin Vein", "Love Aladdin Vein", "A Lad in Vein",and "A Lad in Vain". Incorporating parts of "Aladdin Sane" and what would become "Sweet Thing (Reprise)" on Diamond Dogs , this instrumental piece was generally thought to have been recorded during the Aladdin Sane sessions at Trident Studios early in 1973. However a recent estimate places it alongside recordings for Pin Ups later that year, as a preview of Bowie's next original work, leading author Nicholas Pegg to suggest that it "perhaps ought to be regarded more as a Diamond Dogs demo than an Aladdin Sane out-take".
"Aladdin Sane" was debuted live in February 1973, prior to the album’s release, and often played in concert during the later Ziggy Stardust tours and again on the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974. A performance from the first leg of the 1974 tour was released on David Live (1974), the same track also appearing on Rock Concert. A live version from the second leg of the same tour (previously available on the unofficial album A Portrait in Flesh) was released in 2017 on Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles '74) . Bowie revived the song on stage in 1996, again with Garson on piano. He also recorded an acoustic version with vocals from bass player Gail Ann Dorsey for the BBC session ChangesNowBowie on 8 January 1997.Performances on the Outside Summer Festivals Tour were duets with bassist Gail Ann Dorsey that included quotations of "On Broadway" and "All Day and All of the Night".
The original song has appeared on several compilations:
Aladdin Sane is the sixth studio album by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, released on 13 April 1973 by RCA Records. The follow-up to his breakthrough The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, it was the first album he wrote and released from a position of stardom. It was produced by Bowie and Ken Scott and features contributions from Bowie's backing band the Spiders from Mars – comprising Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey. It was recorded at Trident Studios in London and RCA Studios in New York City between legs of the Ziggy Stardust Tour. The album features a tougher and raunchier glam rock sound than its predecessor. The album cover, featuring a lightning bolt across Bowie's face, is regarded as one of his most iconic images.
"The Jean Genie" is a song by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, originally released in November 1972 as the lead single to his 1973 album Aladdin Sane. Co-produced by Ken Scott, Bowie recorded it with his backing band the Spiders from Mars − comprising Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey. According to Bowie, it was "a smorgasbord of imagined Americana", with a protagonist inspired by Iggy Pop, and the title being an allusion to author Jean Genet. One of Bowie's most famous tracks, it was promoted with a film clip featuring Andy Warhol associate Cyrinda Foxe and peaked at No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart.
"1984" is a 1974 single by David Bowie, from his album Diamond Dogs. Written in 1973, it was inspired by George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and, like much of its parent album, originally intended for a stage musical based on the novel, which was never produced because permission was refused by Orwell's widow Sonia.
"Changes" is a song by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, originally released on the album Hunky Dory in December 1971 and as a single on 7 January 1972. Despite missing the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, "Changes" became one of Bowie's best-known songs. The lyrics are often seen as a manifesto for his chameleonic personality, the frequent change of the world today, and frequent reinventions of his musical style throughout the 1970s. This single has been cited as David Bowie's official US debut. "Changes" was the last song Bowie performed live on stage before his retirement from live performances at the end of 2006.
"John, I'm Only Dancing" is a single by English rock musician David Bowie, released in two versions – entirely different recordings, but carrying the same catalogue number – in September 1972 and April 1973. Bowie later re-worked the song into the disco-influenced "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)," recorded in 1974 but unreleased until 1979.
"Drive-In Saturday" is a song by English singer-songwriter David Bowie from his 1973 album Aladdin Sane. It was released as a single a week before the album and, like its predecessor "The Jean Genie", became a Top 3 UK hit.
"All the Young Dudes" is a song written by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, originally recorded and released as a single by the English rock band Mott the Hoople in 1972 by Columbia Records. Produced by Bowie, he gave the song to the band after they rejected Bowie's "Suffragette City". Bowie would subsequently record the song himself. Regarded as an anthem of glam rock, the song has received acclaim and was a commercial success. In 2004, Rolling Stone rated "All the Young Dudes" No. 253 in its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and on its 2010 update was ranked at number 256. It is also one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
David Live is the first official live album by English musician David Bowie, originally released by RCA Records in 1974. The album was recorded in July of that year, on the initial leg of Bowie's Diamond Dogs Tour, at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. The second leg, a more soul-oriented affair following recording sessions in Philadelphia for the bulk of Young Americans, would be renamed 'Philly Dogs', as reflected on a different live release, Cracked Actor (2017).
"The Supermen" is a song written by English singer-songwriter David Bowie in 1970 and released as the closing track on the album The Man Who Sold the World. It was one of a number of pieces on the album inspired by the works of literary figures such as Friedrich Nietzsche and H. P. Lovecraft.
"Watch That Man" is a song written by David Bowie, the opening track on the album Aladdin Sane from 1973. Its style is often compared to the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. The mix, in which Bowie's lead vocal is buried within the instrumental sections, has generated discussion among critics and fans.
"Panic in Detroit" is a song written by English singer-songwriter David Bowie for the album Aladdin Sane in 1973. Bowie based it on friend Iggy Pop's descriptions of revolutionaries he had known in Michigan and Pop's experiences during the 1967 Detroit riots. Rolling Stone magazine called the track "a paranoid descendant of the Motor City's earlier masterpiece, Martha and the Vandellas' "Nowhere to Run"".
"Time" is a song by English singer-songwriter David Bowie. Written in New Orleans in November 1972 during the American leg of the Ziggy Stardust Tour, it was recorded in London in January 1973 and released as the opening track on side two of the album Aladdin Sane that April. An edited version of the song supplanted the release of the single "Drive-In Saturday" in the United States, Canada and Japan. It was also released in France and South Africa, while early Spanish copies of David Live included a free copy of the single.
"Lady Grinning Soul" is a ballad written by David Bowie, which is the final track on the album Aladdin Sane, released in 1973. The composer's first meeting with American soul singer Claudia Lennear in 1972 is often cited as the inspiration for the song. In 2016, after Bowie's death, an interview with Lennear revealed that Bowie called her in 2014, and told her the song had been written about her.
"Sweet Thing" or "Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)" is a suite of songs written by David Bowie for the album Diamond Dogs. Recorded in January 1974, the piece comprises the songs "Sweet Thing" and "Candidate" and a one-verse reprise of "Sweet Thing."
"Rock 'n' Roll With Me" is a power ballad written by David Bowie and Warren Peace and recorded in January 1974 that first appeared on Bowie's Diamond Dogs album, supposedly to address the artist's complex relation with his fans. A version recorded during the Diamond Dogs tour in July 1974 was released on the album David Live.
Santa Monica '72 is a live album by David Bowie, recorded at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on 20 October 1972 during the Ziggy Stardust Tour. Taken from KMET FM's radio broadcast, it was available only as a bootleg for more than 20 years; according to author David Buckley, possessing a copy was the test of a "proper Bowie fan". The recording was issued semi-legally/officially and without Bowie's approval by the Golden Years label in 1994, with Griffin Music handling the American release in 1995.
"Zion" is a David Bowie bootleg. It is most commonly said to have been recorded at Trident Studios in January 1973, during Bowie's Aladdin Sane sessions.
The Ziggy Stardust Tour was a concert tour by David Bowie in the United Kingdom, North America, and Japan in 1972–73, to promote the studio albums The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Aladdin Sane.
Michael David Garson is an American pianist, who has worked with David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, St. Vincent, Free Flight and The Smashing Pumpkins. He is known for his improv style, never playing a song the same way twice.
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