Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

David Bowie: Aladdin Sane [RCA Victor, 1973]
The pubeless is-he-naked? illustration inside the doublefold suggests not bisexuality but asexuality--the affliction of a romantic for whom love turns nasty, awkward, and exploitative when touched by lust. So maybe the bleak future Bowie likes to scare his fans with is a metaphor for his own present, the American phase of which is reflected by these hardrocking mechanisms. But the cover, "Let's Spend the Night Together," opens other possibilities: its lyric suggests an alternative to the brutality of "Cracked Actor" and its music can help you through the bitterest realities. As a result, this is more interesting thematically than Ziggy Stardust, and it's also better rock and roll. B+