Mercury Records UK April 1971 Catalogue No 6338 014
Photographed by Keith Macmillan in the living room at Haddon Hall (Bowies residence in Beckenham which sounds rather grand until you realise it was a flat). This sleeve design was the first of a few Bowie sleeves to court controversy.
The photograph shows Bowie in a blue and cream (mans) dress as designed by Mr Fish. Bowie is sprawled effeminately across a chaise lounge one hand holding the last card of a pack he has scattered across the floor. the other hand is playing camply with his hair. The textured cover gives the photograph the effect of a pre raphaelite painting by Dante Gabrielle Rosetti. Bowie also used the dress in February 1971 on his first promotional tour to the United States, where he wore it during interviews despite the fact that the Americans had no knowledge of the as yet unreleased UK cover.
At the time of release this image was considered highly provocative, it was one of the first examples of Bowies of gender blurring androgny, which would be explored fully in the following years .
The original 1970 US release of The Man Who Sold the World employed a cartoon-like cover drawing by Bowies friend Michael J Weller, featuring a cowboy in front of the Cane Hill Mental Asylum. Bowies half brother, Terry Jones was an patient in Cane Hill.
* The album was Bowie’s first with the nucleus of what would become the “Spiders from Mars“. New Musical Express critics Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray have said of The Man Who Sold the World, “this is where the story really starts”. The music on this album is harder and closer to heavy metal than bowies previous recordings. It has been claimed that this album’s release marks the birth of glam rock.