Ziggy Stardust wrote the blueprint for David Bowie's hard-rocking glam, and Aladdin Sane essentially follows the pattern, for both better and worse. A lighter affair than Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane is actually a stranger album than its predecessor, buoyed by bizarre lounge-jazz flourishes from pianist Mick Garson and a handful of winding, vaguely experimental songs. Bowie abandons his futuristic obsessions to concentrate on the detached cool of New York and London hipsters, as on the compressed rockers "Watch That Man," "Cracked Actor," and "The Jean Genie." Bowie follows the hard stuff with the jazzy, dissonant sprawls of "Lady Grinning Soul," "Aladdin Sane," and "Time," all of which manage to be both campy and avant-garde simultaneously, while the sweepingly cinematic "Drive-In Saturday" is a soaring fusion of sci-fi doo wop and melodramatic teenage glam. He lets his paranoia slip through in the clenched rhythms of "Panic in Detroit," as well as on his oddly clueless cover of "Let's Spend the Night Together." For all the pleasures on Aladdin Sane, there's no distinctive sound or theme to make the album cohesive; it's Bowie riding the wake of Ziggy Stardust, which means there's a wealth of classic material here, but not enough focus to make the album itself a classic.
Aladdin Sane Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine