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Music / Aladdin Sane

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"Who will love Aladdin Sane? Millions weep a fountain, just in case of sunrise. Who will love Aladdin Sane?"

Aladdin Sane is the sixth studio album by David Bowie, released in 1973. A loosely-constructed semi-sequel to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, it's been described as "Ziggy goes to America" by Bowie. The character of Ziggy Stardust was officially retired at the end of the subsequent tour. The album's music is best known for the hits "Aladdin Sane", "Let's Spend The Night Together" and "The Jean Genie".

The album is probably best known not for any of the music within it but for its cover art, with the front portrait of Bowie with a lightning bolt painted across his face becoming emblematic of the musician in the decades after Aladdin Sane's release.

The album was listed at No.279 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.



Side One

  1. "Watch That Man" (4:30)
  2. "Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)" (5:06)
  3. "Drive-In Saturday" (4:33)
  4. "Panic In Detroit" (4:25)
  5. "Cracked Actor" (3:01)

Side Two

  1. "Time" (5:15)
  2. "The Prettiest Star" (3:31)
  3. "Let's Spend The Night Together" (3:10)
  4. "The Jean Genie" (4:07)
  5. "Lady Grinning Soul" (3:54)

Trope that man, oh honey trope that man:

  • Album Title Drop:
    Oooo, we love Aladdin Sane.
  • Bo Diddley Beat: "Panic In Detroit"
  • Body Paint: Bowie's face is painted in garish colours.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "Jean Genie"
    He says he's a beautician and sells you nutrition and keeps all your dead hair for making up underwear.
  • Call-Back: "Time" references his earlier song "Sell Me a Coat".
    Sell Me a Coat"
    Sell me a coat, 'cause I feel cold.
    You'll freeze and catch cold/'cause you left your coat behind.
  • Cover Version: "Let's Spend The Night Together" was, of course, originally by The Rolling Stones, from the American version of Between the Buttons.
  • Advertisement:
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Time itself “falls wanking to the floor” in "Time".
  • Doo-wop: "Drive-In Saturday".
  • Driven to Suicide: Apparently, the Che Guevara look-alike of "Panic In Detroit".
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Like his earlier song "Five Years", "Aladdin Sane" the song is based on Bowie’s then-conviction that the world had only a few years left. Its full title is "Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)", the first two dates being the years before a world war began, thus foreshadowing World War III happening in the coming years.
  • Epic Rocking: The Title Track and "Time" are both over five minutes long.
  • Face on the Cover: Bowie's face is featured on the album cover, filling the entire image.
  • Genre Roulette: Bowie plays with numerous styles here. "Watch That Man" sounds more like The Rolling Stones than the actual Stones cover. "Drive-In Saturday" is Doo-wop. "Aladdin Sane" is jazz influenced and allows pianist Mike Garson to do a Theolonious Monk-ish solo. "Lady Grinning Soul" is European art music. "The Jean Genie" is Delta blues while "Panic In Detroit" has a Bo Diddley Beat.
  • Grief Song: Bowie wrote "Time" when friends in his own age group started dying, among them New York Dolls drummer Billy Murcia, who’s mentioned as “Billy Dolls”.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: The titular "Cracked Actor" is known for his wholesome image.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: "Watch That Man" takes place at a party so nuts that Ziggy/Bowie takes off into the street.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Aladdin Sane" = "a lad insane".
  • Rearrange the Song: "The Prettiest Star" is a rerecorded version of a song Bowie had done in 1969 as a follow-up to "Space Oddity".
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mick Jagger and model-actress Twiggy are name-checked in "Drive-In Saturday".
    • Bowie wrote "The Jean Genie" about Iggy Pop. He says on some level he was probably thinking about Jean Genet too.
  • White Void Room: Bowie is photographed in one on the album cover.


Example of: