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| 30 June 2023 | Reply

Welbeck Publishing Group
March 2023 – Hard cover
Rrp AUD$79.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of David Bowie’s ground-breaking Aladdin Sane album back in paleolithic 1973, this is as deep a dive into the artwork of that iconic album cover as you will ever need.

There’s a very good reason for this: Author Chris Duffy is the son of precocious ‘60s iconoclast photographer Brian Duffy – better known simply as ‘Duffy’. One of the pivotal “Black Trinity” of photographers (alongside David Bailey and Norman Parkinson) who helped define and rebrand England’s swinging ‘60s, Duffy captured all of the most important brands in his lens – an umbrella which should include models, consumables, bands – anything that needed to be advertised and presented. A 2010 documentary – The Man Who Shot The ‘60s – is on YouTube and is essential viewing.

Son Chris, also a photographer, as well as an archivist of his father’s work, unearthed many images and original negatives thought lost when Duffy had a meltdown and attempted to burn all of his quarter century of work in 1979.

Presented in these lovingly curated and lovely pages are every image from the Aladdin Sane sessions, plus essays on the album and it’s impact, alongside thoughtful treatises on every song on the record, written by such luminaries as Paul Morley, Charles Shaar Murray, Nicholas Pegg, Kevin Cann, Jérôme Soligny and Geoffrey Marsh.

It’s a fascinating dive into an album which means the world to many, and which affected so many. Aladdin Sane was a cult hit in the UK at the time of release, but helped tip Bowie from cult to crossover cool in the US and Japan, and it made a far bigger impact there to start with.

That makes the book something of a curio. For anyone not so enamoured of the record as these writers (and none have a bad word to say) it may mean little, but to true believers with an evangelical faith, this will be everything. To those in between, well it is beautifully presented and will make a lovely coffee table book for the curious, and perhaps an excited talking point for those who come across it by accident.

Fun Fact: Bowie only wore the iconic lightning bolt makeup which adorns the cover of Aladdin Sane once, for the photoshoot with Duffy, and never applied it again, yet it now stands as one of the most instantly recognisable images of him, as well as one of the most iconic pop culture images of the modern age.


Category: Book Reviews

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