David Bowie

The Jean Genie

Composed by David Bowie

Song Review by

Any critics who doubted David Bowie's hard rock credentials following his breakthrough in 1972 (and there were some) were forced into a serious rethink following the release of this, his third British hit single of the year, and the biggest one yet. Released just in time for Christmas, "Jean Genie" soared to number two, and that despite the counter-attractions of the latest single by labelmates the Sweet -- "Blockbuster" plundered the self-same Yardbirds/Deviants riff as "Jean Genie," a grisly coincidence which gave Bowie's supporters pause for thought, too. Their hero, after all, was pushing back the frontiers of rock itself. The Sweet, on the other hand were...well, they were the Sweet, an unabashed bubblegum band last seen cavorting around the TV dressed as Native Americans. Hmmm, maybe they weren't so bad after all.

Included on Bowie's next album, Aladdin Sane, "Jean Genie" is surely the most performed song in Bowie's entire repertoire, although it is ironic that the most legendary version of all, recorded at the 1973 farewell concert with Jeff Beck guesting on dual lead guitar, was absent from the official Ziggy Stardust -- The Motion Picture document of the event. It is readily available, however, on bootlegs taken from the concert film's original airing on U.S. TV in 1974. Other impressive performances date from Bowie's own 1974 American tour, the 1983 Serious Moonlight outing, and the 1997 Earthling tour.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Aladdin Sane 1973 Atlantic / Elektra / Rhino / Warner Bros. / Warner Music
No Image 1973 8:00
David Live 1974 Virgin
Station to Station 1976 EMI Music Distribution
No Image 1980 K-Tel Distribution
Glass Spider 1988 Virgin 5:23
Changesbowie 1990 EMI Digital / Parlophone 4:07
The Singles: 1969-1993 1993 Rykodisc 4:06
The Video Collection 1993 Rykodisc
The Singles Collection 1993 EMI Music Distribution 4:07
Rarest One Bowie 1995 Trident Music International 4:22
The  Best of David Bowie 1969-1974 1997 EMI Digital / Parlophone 4:06
Alternative Biography 1997 Alter Ego
The Singles Collection 1 2000 EMI Music Distribution 4:07
The Filth and the Fury [Virgin] 2000
Original Soundtrack
Virgin 4:05
Top of the Pops, Vol. 2: 70's Rock 2001
Various Artists
Universal International 4:08
You Will Be Rocked! 2001
Various Artists
Warner/ESP / Rhino 4:08
Best of Bowie 2002 EMI Digital / Parlophone 4:06
The Best of Bowie [DVD] 2002 Virgin 4:15
Remembering Those Scary Monsters 2002 Alternative Edge
Capitol Gold Legends, Vol. 3 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:06
Aladdin Sane/Diamond Dogs 2004 EMI Music Distribution 4:06
Virgin Radio: The Album 2004
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
The Platinum Collection 2006 EMI Music Distribution
The Best Air Guitar Album in the World... Ever, Vol. 2 2006
Various Artists
Virgin 4:06
Mini Best of David Bowie 2006 EMI Music Distribution 4:10
Rock Legends [EMI 1] 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:06
David Bowie: Music in Review 2007 Classic Rock Legends / Ultimate Review
101 Jukebox Classics 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:05
Rock & Roll Highway [Somerset] 2007
Various Artists
Somerset Entertainment 4:08
Glass Spider Live 2008 Immortal
Live in Santa Monica '72 2008 Atlantic / Elektra / Rhino / Warner Music
Jackie: The Album, Vol. 2 2008
Various Artists
Virgin 4:05
Classic Rock [Rhino Custum] 2009
Various Artists
Rhino 4:06
Five Years 1969-1973 2015 Rhino 4:07
Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976) 2016 Parlophone
No Image 2016 Sony Music 4:05
David Live [2005 Mix] 2016 Parlophone / Rhino / Warner Music 5:19
Live Nassau Coliseum '76 2017 Parlophone / Rhino / Warner Music 7:25
Day In, Day Out: Radio Broadcast Laser Media / Music Video Distribution 6:02
No Image DB
Ziggy & the Spiders: Cleveland Music Hall Gold Standard Laboratories 4:44
blue highlight denotes editor's pick