Lulu – The Man Who Sold The World (1974)

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The song was covered by the Scottish singer Lulu in 1974, who, according to biographer David Buckley, performed it in “a sleazy, almost Berlin cabaret style”. Lulu would recall Bowie inviting her to a concert he gave after which he met her in his hotel room saying: “I want to make an MF of a record with you because you’re a great singer.” Lulu – “I didn’t think it would happen but Bowie followed up two days later. He was übercool at the time and I just wanted to be led by him. I loved everything he did. I didn’t think ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ was the greatest song for my voice, but it was such a strong song in itself. I had no idea what it was about. In the studio Bowie kept telling me to smoke more cigarettes, to give my voice a certain quality.” Bowie produced the Lulu recording of “The Man Who Sold the World” with Mick Ronson during the Pin Ups sessions and also contributed guitar, saxophone and backing vocals. The remainder of the band included Ronson on guitar, Trevor Bolder on bass, Mike Garson on piano, and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. Lulu’s “The Man Who Sold the World” was released as a single on 11 January 1974 having been introduced by Lulu on the TOTP broadcast of 10 January 1974: the track only made its Top 50 debut (at #27) on the chart dated 16 January 1974 following a reprise performance by Lulu on the 24 January 1974 TOTP broadcast with a third TOTP performance by Lulu on the 7 February 1974 broadcast facilitating a boost from #13 to #5 on the chart dated 9 February 1974. In her TOTP performances in support of “The Man Who Sold the World” Lulu has been characterized as “dressed and sounding exactly like a diminutive Bowie”. On the UK Top 50 dated 16 February 1974 Lulu’s “The Man Who Sold the World” rose to #3 which proved to be the peak position for the track which subsequently made an accelerated chart descent with its overall Top 50 tenure being a comparatively brief nine weeks. Internationally “The Man Who Sold the World” afforded Lulu a major hit hit in Ireland (#8), the Netherlands (#10) and Germany (#13): the track was also a minor chart item in Australia at #81.


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