CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 29 Jan / 12 Feb]

 

David Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold the World' Turns 40

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Nov 4, 2010
It was 40 years ago today that David Bowie arguably invented glam rock with the U.S. release of his third studio album The Man Who Sold the World.

It was 40 years ago today that David Bowie arguably invented glam rock with the U.S. release of his third studio album The Man Who Sold the World. While the dominant storyline usually contends that glam’s genesis began with Marc Bolan’s glitter and satin-wearing appearance on the British broadcast Top of the Pops in March 1971, Bowie nonetheless predated T. Rex’s performance that mixed raunchy guitars with androgyny by addressing sexual uncertainty over hard rock riffs on the Sold the World’s opener “The Width of a Circle”.


What’s more, Bowie’s first iconoclastic challenges to the alpha male rock star stereotype continued during the Sold the World era with him donning a dress during the album’s U.S. promotional tour, and he later showed up wearing the same garb on the album cover for the 1971 UK release of the project. 


But the Sold the World metamorphosis wasn’t just a stylistic change up but a musical diversion as well. Bowie abandoned his psychedelic folk-leaning roots on the release, teaming up with the virtuosic Mick Ronson (who later formed the backbone of the Bowie’s Spiders from Mars band) to concoct an album that leaned towards the proto-metal electric heaviness of then contemporaries Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.


Though Sold the World is now often overshadowed by Bowie’s commercial breakthrough Hunky Dory and the glorious run that is the Ziggy Stardust albums, the 1970 release is when Bowie’s strange odyssey really began. And when he became truly great.


Related Articles
14 Jan 2015
In honor of a new year, here is a list of songs that can help nudge even the idlest of souls off the couch in 2015.
9 Dec 2014
Nothing Has Changed, despite the exact nature of its target demographic being up for debate, remains a thrilling go-to for the semi-casual Thin White Duke observer, and is about as damn close to perfect as a Bowie anthology can get.
26 Nov 2014
Tobias Rüther’s exploration of Bowie’s artistic and personal development in mid-'70s Berlin offers few cogent insights and a confusing timeline of an artist in a city.
By Rodney Sharkey
13 Oct 2014
With its Apple-sponsored free public release, U2's Songs of Innocence betrays just how far the band has come from their past, despite its attempts to bring back a Dublinesque vision.
discussion by
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2015 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.