The first song released from Pinups was the single ‘Sorrow’, issued in the UK and US on 12 October 1973. The single was delayed for two weeks, having originally been scheduled for release on 28 September.
Another cover version, of Jacques Brel’s ‘Amsterdam’, was its b-side. It had been recorded in the summer of 1971, and at one point was to have been the closing track on The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.
Pinups was released on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday 19 October 1973, with advance sales of 150,000. It became an instant best-seller, spending five weeks at number one in the UK – just as Aladdin Sane had done earlier in the year. Pinups spent a total of 37 weeks on the UK chart.
The album also topped the chart in Finland, and went top ten in Australia and Norway. It fared less well in the US, however, peaking at number 23, and spending nine weeks on the charts.
Pinups was nearly subject to an injunction from Island Records delaying its release. The label wished to prevent RCA from rush-releasing Bowie’s album ahead of Bryan Ferry’s solo debut These Foolish Things, another collection of cover versions. Ferry’s album was released on 5 October 1973, and although Island feared its sales would suffer, both These Foolish Things and Pinups were hits.
Pinups was really my way of shaking off Ziggy completely, while retaining some excitement in the music. It really was treading water, but it happens to be one of my favourite albums. I think there is some terrific stuff on it.
Reissues, remixes, remasters
Pinups was first released on compact disc by RCA Victor in 1984. That year also saw a UK vinyl picture disc, which was a limited numbered edition.
The album was digitally remastered and reissued by Rykodisc/EMI in 1990, as part of the extensive Sound + Vision series. It included two bonus tracks – a version of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Growin’ Up’, and ‘Port Of Amsterdam’, the Jacques Brel song released in 1973 as the b-side of Bowie’s ‘Sorrow’ single, and often known as just ‘Amsterdam’.
‘Growin’ Up’ dated not from the Pinups sessions, but was taped at Olympic Studios in November 1973 during early sessions for Diamond Dogs. The song features the Rolling Stones’ Ron Wood on guitar.
Ryko Analogue also put out a clear vinyl version in 1990, with the two bonus tracks. This was a limited, numbered edition.
Pinups was included in the Five Years (1969–1973) box set, released on 25 September 2015 on CD, 180 gram vinyl, and digital download. The album was reissued the following year as a standalone. None of the versions contained any bonus songs.
Pinups Radio Show
The Pinups Radio Show was an unused promotional release, which remained unheard until being unearthed by Bowie’s archivist Nigel Reeve three decades after its recording.
It was in an old tape vault on 1/4″ tape with simply the words ‘Radio Show’ written on it,” he said. “This is such a rare find. No one knew of its existence, apart from David and Ken. To play it for the first time was quite simply a jaw-dropping moment.
The 15-minute mock radio show was produced in 1973 by David Bowie and Ken Scott. It included five songs from the Pinups album – ‘Rosalyn’, ‘Here Comes The Night’, ‘I Wish You Would’, ‘Sorrow’, and ‘I Can’t Explain’ – interspersed with Bowie’s thoughts on the London music scene.
Pinups Radio Show was first broadcast on BBC 6 Music on 23 October 2013, to mark the 40th anniversary of Pinups. It was also streamed on Spotify from 28 October.
The recording was also released as a single-sided 10″ single, with early orders of the Five Years (1969–1973) box set from Bowie’s official US and UK web stores. After the box set’s release it was also made available individually for a brief period in the US store.
A compact disc version was also available with pre-orders of the Five Years CD box set. For a short time in November 2015 it was also on sale individually for $10 from Bowie’s US web store.