David Bowie’s third album, The Man Who Sold The World, was released in the United Kingdom on 8 April 1971.
The album had already been released in the USA in November 1970. Bowie was said to be unhappy that his record label had changed the title from Metrobolist, and when his UK label prepared to release it in April 1971, he briefly and unsuccessfully attempted to have it retitled Holy Holy, after a recently-recorded single.
In the UK, Melody Maker described the album as “surprisingly excellent”, while the New Musical Express called it “rather hysterical”. When the album was reissued in 1972, in the wake of Ziggy’s success, it fared better, reaching number 24 in the UK and 105 on the US Billboard 200.
In April 1971 The Man Who Sold The World was released to complimentary reviews. Lacking a hit single, in fact no single, it failed to sell. But this has become one of my top three Bowie albums in my personal chart. It brings back fond memories of Mick Ronson goading me to listen to Jack Bruce’s bass playing and emulate him. If you have complaints that the bass is too high in the mix, blame Ronno. And even though Bowie threw me for a loop in his newly formed unorthodox method of song writing, his writing and performances were ultimately stunning.
Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy
The UK release date was often thought to be Saturday 10 April 1971, the day after Good Friday, but in 2021 the Bowie Estate announced the correct date as 8 April. This was based on promotional material and a reviewer’s copy with the date stamped on the back of the sleeve.
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