The release

The first music to be released ahead of Aladdin Sane was ‘The Jean Genie’. Issued as a single in November 1972, with ‘Ziggy Stardust’ as its b-side, it became a UK top 20 hit at the end of the year.

‘The Jean Genie’ was promoted with an advertisement which stated: “Written on the road. Recorded in New York. Mixed in Nashville. The first single to come from Bowie’s triumphant American tour.”

Aladdin Sane is commonly believed to have been released on 13 April 1973. However, Bowie’s official site stated in 2018 that the official date was actually 20 April, although in the UK it was brought forward by a day due to the Easter holiday.

Previously thought to have been issued on 13th April, 1973, new evidence has come to light that proves the release date was officially the 20th, but being Good Friday in the UK the album was ‘made available’ on the 19th.

Contemporary evidence does seem to bear this out. One full-page industry advertisement from MainMan in 1973 stated in large letters at the top: “Available April 19th”.

Abetted by advance sales of 100,000, Aladdin Sane became the fastest-selling British pop album since the Beatles. It entered the UK charts at number one, where it remained for five weeks, becoming Bowie’s first chart-topper. In the summer of 1973 Bowie had five albums simultaneously in the UK charts, for a total of 19 weeks.

I wasn’t at all surprised Aladdin Sane made my career. I packaged a totally credible plastic rock star – much better than any sort of Monkees fabrication. My plastic rocker was much more plastic than anybody’s.
David Bowie
Rolling Stone, 12 February 1976

Aladdin Sane was also a top ten hit in Australia, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. In the US it peaked at number 17 in the Billboard 200.

Reissues, remixes, remasters

Aladdin Sane had its first release in compact disc in 1984. It was part of a reissue programme by RCA, Bowie’s former label, following the success of Let’s Dance.

In 1990 the album was reissued by Rykodisc/EMI. It was remastered from the original master tapes by Dr Toby Mountain. Unusually for Rykodisc, it was released with no bonus tracks.

The album was remastered once again for a 1999 reissue, this time by EMI/Virgin. Again there were no bonus songs. This time the remastering was by Peter Mew at Abbey Road Studios, London.

A 30th anniversary two-CD edition, digitally remastered by producer Ken Scott with Peter Mew, was released in 2003 by EMI/Virgin. The second disc contained ten tracks: ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ (sax version); ‘The Jean Genie’ (original single mix); ‘Time’ (single edit); ‘All The Young Dudes’ (mono mix); ‘Changes’ (live in Boston, 1972); ‘The Supermen’ (live in Boston, 1972); ‘Life On Mars?’ (live in Boston, 1972); ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ (live in Boston, 1972); ‘The Jean Genie’ (live in Santa Monica, 1972); and ‘Drive-In Saturday’ (live in Cleveland, 1972).

A 40th anniversary edition of Aladdin Sane was released on CD and digital download in April 2013. This version was remastered by Ray Staff at AIR Studios, London, and approved by Ken Scott.

The 2013 version was included in the Five Years 1969–1973 box set, and subsequently reissued separately on CD, vinyl and as a digital download.

A limited silver vinyl edition of Aladdin Sane was released on 20 April 2018 to mark the album’s 45th anniversary. It was initially available only in record stores, and contained the 2013 remaster.

Aladdin Sane – 2018 silver vinyl limited edition