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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 3 December 2002
I have to admit that, musically this is probably one of my fave albums of all time. The stark, ambiguity of "Width of a circle" sets the tone for the whole album. The set itself has a dark, brooding, menacing feel which challenges the listener to explore new musical directions and rewards in abundance. This is rock as it was intended. No nonsense, no posturing, and pure. I defy anyone to listen to "All the madmen" in the dark without the hairs on the back of the neck standing to attention! Indeed there are homages to Hendrix but Mick Ronson manages to pull it off and still sound the way that only Ronno can. Truly an album that still stands the test of time and still sounds more honest than virtually anything else that has come along since. Maybe "Ziggy Stardust" is more important but this is a reminder of how rock should be played. No BS, no frills, just undiluted rock performed by a band that is obviously still trying to find it's way and the nerves and agression shine throughout. I'd have given it 10 stars but I'm limited to just the 5. Buy it!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 October 2015
In this review I''m simply going to try and answer the question Bowie fans will be asking: 'Do I REALLY need to buy this album again?'.

The answer is a resounding yes. I have this album on vinyl, the Rykodisc CD, and a Japanese pressing of the 24bit remaster. We're all thinking more and more that many remasters are over-compressed and brickwalled to death, pumping up quiet moments to the same volume as the rest of the music. Well, this is the most natural sounding version of this classic album since the original vinyl. It's much quieter than other CD versions, but undeniably superior, in that it sounds like an album from the early seventies, not the nineties. Not that it sounds bad or weak in any way, quite the reverse - it sounds warm, natural, organic and clear. The clarity of the mix really comes through, Visconti's bass guitar has never sounded as authoritative and clear, Ronno is as powerful, tasteful and muscular as you'd expect and overall, it just sounds excellent - there's plenty of space in the recording and this version has made me marvel again at the songwriting and arrangements.

Also, if you reverse the booklet, you can have the US cartoon cowboy sleeve design in the window of the jewel case - what larks!!! All we need now is a CD reissue with the black and white Ziggy era high-kick cover livery so many of us grew up with.

Anyone who loves Bowie will really like the authentic sound of this remaster. The 2015 remasters of 'Hunky Dory' and 'David Bowie' (aka 'Space Oddity' are even better - the latter in particular feels better than ever to me.

Just buy it - it's a brilliant album, as you already know, but this is the best CD of it so far, I reckon.
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on 5 November 2015
Like many others I was sceptical of any claimed improvements in this latest remastering, but as it turns out it's one of the best and most musical remasterings I've ever heard. A hifi designer friend of mine often repeats the question of Julian Vereker "yeah, but can you tap your foot to it?" in relation to good sound. In other words, are you absorbed by the recording, just drinking in the music rather than analysing it? This remastering is essential for any Bowie fan.
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on 26 April 2009
An unusual departure for Bowie into heavy rock, but nevertheless a powerful album. Worth buying for the epic Width of a Circle alone, but there's also the sweet and sad After All, the spooky title track, Bowie's killer impression of Marc Bolan on Black Country Rock, and a reworking of his earlier pretty Ching A Ling on the not-so-pretty apocalyptic Saviour Machine, to savour too. Oh, and of course the guitar wizard Mick Ronson works his magic again.It's often shamefully underrated, but much more interesting than later lauded works like Young Americans.Plus, Bowie's lyrics are darkly poetic.
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on 13 March 2016
One of my favourites albums, the heavy "Width of a Circle" being in my all time top ten. The usual bunch of critics from the 70's didn't like that song with its "Passages", but what did they know,they were probably too old then, dead now and didn't play instruments to appreciate what went into it. I think this album easily competes with Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust even though it's not as commercial. Tony Visconti plays an amazing thundering bass on "Width of a Circle, and Mick Ronsons guitar playing is flawless as usual on all tracks pity there is nobody playing his style today......at least that I know of. Other favourites include "She shook me cold", Running gun blues and Black Country Rock. Of all my Bowie albums this is the one I play most in the car, always at high volume. I don't have much of a stomach for later and newer stuff and rarely to never play them, I prefer the rawness of the seventies albums.
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Always armed with the realisation that the British public have always had the propensity to be easily shocked, David Bowie chose to don what he called a 'Man's Dress' for the cover of 'The Man Who Sold The World'. Anyway, whether the masses were shocked or not, it didn't stimulate them much into buying this album on its original release. Which was their hard luck, really, 'cause this album is amongst the very best of Bowie's albums. By then, he was considered pretty much a 'One Hit Wonder' following his failure to follow-up 'Space Oddity' in 1969. For The Man Who Sold The World, Bowie made one of what would be many stylistic shifts, by putting out his hardest and heaviest album (until the 'Tin Machine' days, that is). The title track has justly been accorded classic status thanks to Nirvana's latter-day cover, but the whole album is a masterpiece. On 'After All', Bowie experimented with varying the speed of his vocals, something he'd use to even greater effect on 'The Bewlay Brothers' on 'Hunky Dory', and the spooky, ethereal quallity is but one of the many changes of mood and atmosphere on display here. On 'Black Country Rock', he does a witty impression of his old mate Marc Bolan, and also allows guitarist Mick Ronson free rein to play some of his most searing guitar work throughout the album. 'She Shook Me Cold' is dense hard rock, and the driving 'Width Of A Circle' was clearly a favourite, that he kept in his live set all the way through the 'Ziggy' and 'Aladdin Sane' eras. Lyrically, Bowie has abandoned the occasional whimsy of the 'Space Oddity' album, in favour of more darker moods, even negotiating the sci-fi lyrical motifs and musical terrain that's percolated to the surface of much of his work. A truly magnificent work that has not dated at all.
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I view this as a stepping stone album towards the greatness that was to follow. Bowie was defining his style. He was almost there, almost achieving his aim of taking on the rock world. Some of the songs are mini epics in their own right.

The album gives the feel that Bowie was evolving his songwriting style. It is a stark album that would eventually lead to collaborations with Eno and his German experimentation period. The album starts with another epic in the form of the Width of the Circle which showcases Mick Ronson's extraordinary guitar work and also makes us realise that the 1970s are upon us and threatening to bring something frighteningly good in the world of music. The cosiness is being wrenched out. There is madness within this track and the album as a whole. To see an illustration of this just listen to the wierdness of All the Madmen. It is on this album that we first get an idea of the depth of Bowie's vocals, sometimes sung and sometimes snarled. And of course the cover changed. My early LP version has a young looking Bowie doing a high kick whilst playing his guitar. This was changed to the famous cover of Bowie in a dress. It was almost as if Bowie was battling with his demons, his sexuality and what ultimately would be his musical genius. After the early Anthony Newley style songs this came as a bit of a shock.

There was plenty of rock songs - indeed this was probably Bowie's heavy rock opus. It is a thumpingly good album. When I returned to it after a number of years to write this review I was absolutely gobsmacked by its power and sense of direction and its sheer power. The title track remains one of Bowie's best songs - and was even recorded by Lulu!
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on 19 January 2008
One of bowie's more overlooked albums - think more deep purple than scott walker. Tony Visconti (who would produce Bowie later in the decade) plays bass, Mick and Woody from the Spiders from Mars here as well. Buy this edition as it has the bonus tracks and the remastering is as good as any of the later versions! Who needs 24-bit remastering?!?
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Like everyone else not entirely indifferent to David Bowie, I was saddened by news of his death which came just days after the release of his last album. His music has been a part of my life since childhood although I have to be honest and say that I stopped listening to his new output after Ashes to Ashes but carried enjoying his 1970s output.

I ordered this not having heard it since the late 70s. Having more time to listen and judge and more patience to tease out the secrets of the music, I have listened to this album a couple of times. The title track and All the Madmen were the two songs I recall from those days and it has been great to hear them again.

Taking this album as a whole, I would say that Bowie was still finding his feet as an artist. The subsequent album, Hunky Dory feels much more the work of a mature finished artist. This one is very different. It is much heavier in tone. The bass and drums are much louder in the mix and the lyrics have a very disturbing tone. I love Mick Ronson's guitar playing and Bowie's singing on this recording.

In all I would definitely say that this is well worth exploring and enjoying on its own terms and I recommend it highly.
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David Bowie's third full-length album, and to me his first truly great long player. Adopting a set of mostly very hard rocking musical shapes, 'The Man Who Sold The World' includes 'The Width of a Circle', which would go on to be a lynch pin of his 'Ziggy'-era live set, and the title track, which gained greater attention firstly through Lulu's Bowie-produced 1973 cover version, and twenty-odd years later, Nirvana's 'Unplugged' take, which cemented the song's classic status. That would be good enough for most, but there is so much else going on here. Tony Visconti produces and plays bass, and two-thirds of the Spiders From Mars in drummer Woody Woodmansey and guitarist Mick Ronson are also present and correct, but it's the songs - with a very disturbing, dystopian, kind of Sci Fi ambience - that are the most potent aspect of this heady brew. The crazed soldier of 'Running Gun Blues', the robotic subject of 'Saviour Machine' (with its hectic Jazz Watz time signature), and the spooky 'After All' make this a superb set, the heaviest stuff he'd record until Tin Machine. An early peak, and its an album I have returned to again and again this last forty years. It's at its best on vinyl, of course.
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