The Man Who Sold The World by David Bowie released by Mercury Records 1970. The 'Dress Cover' value £1,000; black and white image only nominal value.

BORN David Jones in 1947, nobody had such an ambiguous music career as David Bowie, writes MICHAEL BROOKS. First signed to Decca records in 1966 he changed his surname owing to the imminent success of Davy Jones of The Monkees. Despite having several record releases in the late sixties, the charts remained resilient to all his recordings; Bowie seemed one of the least likely pop idols of the new decade. The possibility of reinventing himself seemed unlikely but late in 1969 he finally broke through with Space Oddity released to coincide with the American moon landings. The tale of Major Tom whose sojourn in space disorientates him to such a degree that he severs connection and chooses to remain adrift rather than return to Earth, became a huge hit. Major Tom reappeared in 1980 in Bowie's Ashes To Ashes on his Scary Monsters album.

The idea of creating complex characters with multiple personalities has become prevalent throughout Bowie's musical career.

Bowie wanted to call this album Metrobolis inspired by the Fritz Lang film Metropolis, but Mercury insisted that it should remain under the original title. Often referred to as Bowie's dark, heavy metal album, it was first released in the United States in November 1970; it came out in the UK six months later. The picture of Bowie wearing a blue cream dress lounging seductively on a chaise-longue was certainly controversial. Bowie described it as a man-dress (it never caught on) wearing it on subsequent interviews to promote the album. Possibly because of the album cover, it sold poorly. RCA took over recording rights a year later and reissued it with a black and white image of David Bowie in his pre Ziggy Stardust days, which will be the album cover that most Bowie fans purchased. Vinyl records in the seventies had not become what we now refer to as 'collectable,' and the cover of Bowie wearing a dress was not what the fans liked.

The song, The Man Who Sold The World, is basically about a doppelganger meeting his original self. It became a big hit for Lulu in 1974. Bowie duets with her on the recording, and you may remember Lulu dressed as a Berlin cabaret singer reminiscent of Bowie's persona The Thin White Duke.