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David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World remixed & reissued as Metrobolist

David Bowie / Metrobolist: The Man Who Sold The World remixed by Tony Visconti

50th anniversary reissue • Vinyl and CD • Stereo remix

David Bowie‘s 1970 album The Man Who Sold The World has been remixed by original producer Tony Visconti and is to be reissued on CD and vinyl as ‘Metrobolist’.

The album was Bowie’s first of the 1970s, and marked the beginning of David’s three-year collaboration with Mick Ronson. It was actually issued in America in November 1970 but not issued in the rest of the world until April 1971 (just eight months before Hunky Dory was released).

So what’s the deal with the new name? Well, apparently the album was originally titled ‘Metrobolist’ and was changed at the last minute. Parlophone assure us that the original stereo master tapes were in fact labeled ‘Metrobolist’ (although the named had been crossed out).

David Bowie / Metrobolist: The Man Who Sold The World remixed by Tony Visconti Metrobolist. Available on ‘random’ black, gold and white vinyl. 1970 numbered copies will be available on white vinyl, while just 50 copies come in Gold (click image to enlarge)

The important thing to understand is that it’s exactly the same album; the same nine tracks. However, what’s different is that as with Space Oddity last year, Tony Visconti has gone back to the multi-tracks and created a new stereo remix.

Interestingly, in a recent Q&A facilitated by davidbowienews.com, Visconti was asked the following question, by Ethan Paquet:

“Last year, you perfected Space Oddity using technology to fulfil what wasn’t possible in 1969. If you could do another full-album remix to ‘fix’ the sound of an album you’ve produced (or wish you had), what would it be?”

Tony’s answer was as follows:

The Man Who Sold The World.  I already started but some of the masters are missing, so it won’t be a complete album in the sense of modern remixing.”

Visconti is right, it isn’t ‘complete’ because the press release for Metrobolis states that the whole album has been remixed with the exception of ‘After All’. However, rather than put this down to some pesky missing multi-track tapes, Parlophone say it wasn’t remixed because Tony considered the song “perfect” as it is. SDE will leave it to you to pass judgement on the transparency of that statement, but regardless, ‘After All’ on this reissue is the 2015 remastered version and not a remix.

The artwork for Metrobolist is clearly very similar to the original US Mercury cover. Apart from the title, and the “nine songs by David Bowie” below the image, the other obvious difference is that the line “roll up your sleeves and show us your arms” has been added to the speech bubble. I say ‘added’, in actual fact Mercury actually removed these words originally, leaving it blank. Mike Weller who created the original, has reworked his original artwork for this reissue.

The gatefold sleeve also features many images from the infamous Keith MacMillan Mr Fish ‘dress’ shoot at Haddon Hall which would cause so much controversy when one of the shots was used on the cover of the The Man Who Sold The World album outside of America in spring 1971.

Metrobolist will be made available on CD and vinyl. As well as a 180g black vinyl edition, it will come in 2020 limited edition handwritten numbered copies on gold vinyl (numbers 1971 – 2020) and on white vinyl (numbers 1 – 1970) – all randomly distributed.

Metrobolist will be released on 6 November 2020.

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The Width of a Circle
All the Madmen
Black Country Rock
After All
Running Gun Blues
Saviour Machine
She Shook Me Cold
The Man Who Sold the World
The Supermen

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Andy

My two vinyl copies arrived from the UK from Townsend Music today. Both had the telltale slits down the edge of the cellophane when I pulled them out of the shipping box. Much to my surprise, both black.

So “nice” of them to check for me beforehand before shipping, that’s normally an Amazon stunt on these random color releases when they send out returns to unsuspecting customers.

Keri Preston

Really enjoying the remix. Has anyone else had a white vinyl copy from Amazon ?

John Dionysus

Yeah, I lucked out and got a white vinyl copy from Amazon USA. I feel a bit torn seeing that they are going for $200-$300 on various resell sites. If you look at the numbers on discogs, it looks like there is a 89/672 chance of getting a colored pressing, or roughly 1 in 8 is colored. Those numbers seem reasonable to me b/c if you extrapolate out that implies ~15000 black copies. which seems reasonable quantity. even if you were to assume that people were more likely to report a color vinyl, I am skeptical they would press more than 20000 total copies, which still means a 1 in 10 chance.

Discogs
white=87/1970 = 4.4%
gold= 2/50 = 4%
black=583 –> if 4%-4.4% means 13250-14575 blacks

My copy had a aftermarket “Made in Germany” sticker on it. I presume those are on all the ones from Amazon, but would be curious if it could be a signal

Keri Preston

My copy was from Amazon UK. It didn’t have the sticker you mention.
The figures you quote are interesting, thanks.
I’ve seen the prices on eBay and I wonder if anyone will really buy it at those prices.

Moo

Woody Woodmansey must be disappointed….the drums sound like they are in the next room…..we will never get anything better than the original RCA cds

Disco Dan

Re: 40th Anniversary 7″ Picture Discs – If Parlophone HAVE stopped the series for individual releases having released all the ’70s singles, then maybe they should ‘do an ABBA’ and do clam-shell 7″ coloured vinyl box sets for each ’80s Bowie album? It should work out cheaper to manufacture and cheaper for the 7″ collector… PLUS I’ll take coloured vinyl over a picture disc any day. A set of five [the 4 U.K. 7″s and the Japan 7″ ‘It’s No Game (Part 1)”] ‘Scary Monsters’ 7″s on ‘crystal-clear’ vinyl in high-gloss sleeves in a clamshell box anyone? £55? Those picture disc 7″s were creeping up to £15 each!!!

Aloysius

Metrobolist’s new mix is superior! Tonys best job to this day!

KTR

Hi,
my 1st post here. How different are Bowie’s Metrobolisit and Space Oddity new remixed albums ? I bought remixed Never Let Me Down and IMO sounded the same ?!
Bare with me pls, not fluent with English, cheers.
Kimmo

Mike Williams

Amazon USA makes no mention of the possible color options. Can anyone confirm that colors will be in Amazon USA’s allotment?

Bryan Rodrigues

I ordered Space Oddity from amazon and got a silver one on my first try. Can’t say if it will be true this time, but there is precedent.

Nick Jones

Hi Paul Sinclair.Do you know if the 90’s box will have outtakes like Nuts or even the unreleased Bring me the disco king earlier versions?best

noyoucmon

I’ve got an “original” copy of the US cover; I put it in quotes because it’s apparently one of the most counterfeited titles of its time. I’m pretty sure mine is counterfeit, though it still wasn’t cheap. I may need to get this just to have a “real” one! It’s a pretty redundant item, but something about it really appeals to me nonetheless.

Markyp

There’s an easy way of spotting counterfeits.
It’s the position of the “Oh By Jingo” speech bubble on the back.

Billy D

I could never figure out the cover.
Is the man carrying some sort of firearm or a peg leg clad in denim?

Btw, this has to belong in the Worst Album Art in the World…Ever! category.
(It was a sad day for EMI and the Best…Ever! series.)

Mick

Not to be rude, but whoever devised this “random” colour vinyl idea should be shot.
I was lucky enough to get a clear Changesonebowie LP, but beyond that I haven’t bothered to take the gamble. I passed on the Space Oddity remix vinyl because of the random issue, and will pass on this for that same reason as well.

Doming

Warner Australia:

Due to a store error, the David Bowie Metrobolist vinyl was incorrectly listed as a white vinyl. It has come to our attention that it is actually a 180g black vinyl and it will also come in 2020 limited edition handwritten numbered copies on gold vinyl (# 1971 – 2020) and on white vinyl (# 1 – 1970) all randomly distributed

That Wort

I’m curious, are these coloured vinyls limited to 2020 world wide or is it 2020 per terrority? These statements of numbers could be interpreted either way and it makes a big difference in overall numbers.

Rowly75

Bowie seems to be the most milked artist even in the short time since his death. Seems to be something every other month for the poor fans to shell out on. And to top it off have ‘random’ colour vinyls so you don’t even know what product you are getting?! Totally wrong IMO.
Also have they changed the text in the bubble? Doesn’t seem that controversial for it not to have been included originally?!

Reed

Prince’s estate is trying to catch up. Quickly.

Kevin O.

The Elvis Presley estate and RCA established the template for that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_Presley_albums_discography

BillyD

RCA has plans for Elvis well into the Twenty sixth century. If man shall still be alive, that is.

Kevin O.

The way the shotgun is drawn it could be mistaken for a giant syringe. In 1970, Mercury probably saw that and the text in the bubble as a heroin reference. That’s my guess, anyway.

David Harold

It’s great there’s so much official Bowie being released. I’m not so bothered about reissues but the RSD and box set material is great. More more more!

Mike Bowie

There was no text in the bubble for the original (which I have ) , the text was considered inappropriate and refers to drug taking through a needle!

SimonP

Hendrix has released a couple of albums since he carked it, too…

Adam

This release is meant to be truer to the original album concept as intended by Bowie, the bubble was supposed to contain words (like why the hell would anyone design a cartoon with empty speech bubble?), plus it comes in a gatefold cover that includes additional photos of the ‘dress’ photoshoot- I think this is a pretty great and unique release for a GREAT album!!

ohbyjingo

Look, its a new mix of TMWSTW. The best Bowie lp front to back. Whats not to like? Of course everyone here will get black vinyl. Its the rules! And yes, I ordered instantly…

Rich E

Do Amazon adjust there returns policy to account for this type of gimmick? Otherwise surely you buy as many as you can afford and return every copy that doesn’t get you into the chocolate factory?

Eibon

I’d hope this wouldn’t be allowed as it’s simply a bit of a fun lottery and I presume it’s being sold as black vinyl as per Warner Australia’s note. Really, one would have no right to return it as there’s nothing wrong with the purchase and it’s unsporting. Arguably not good for the planet either with all the extra packaging and carriage involved. Besides, black vinyl usually sounds better and would arguably be the best choice, not that anyone would complain if they got a ‘golden-ticket’ edition. I can’t guess what the odds of securing a special disc are here, but I’d say they’re slim and anyone who wanted to do a Veruca Salt on this wouldn’t likely succeed before their patience, and that of Amazon’s ran out. I’ll probably get this once I hear the reviews of the mix. I already have the rykodisc gatefold clear vinyl double disc edition on vinyl.

Hugh Hall

50 copies??? What an insult to Bowie fans. They’re being trolled now.

Alex Hopkins

Does anybody know how limited the cd is. Is it like the ‘is it any wonder’ which was limited (to 2000 I think)?

Beechlander

Won’t be limited like IIAW. Better to compare to space oddity cd (2019) which is and will be available for some time. The only limited part is with the differently coloured vinyl.

Mic Smith

I enjoyed the Space Oddity remix and am looking forward to hearing what Metrobolist sounds like and the sleeve is a close enough representation of the original sleeve which Bowie himself appreciated. So it gets the thumbs up from me. I agree though that if this is a prelude to something bigger and better then the fans are being taken for mugs again.

On the subject of the picture discs I’d really appreciate if those in the know would confirm this either way. Yes we have ‘David Jones’ sharing what he knows but something from the horse’s mouth would put this to bed good and proper.

If the series has stopped you’d have to question why this is. Aside from the popularity from a sales point of view it did generate a number of exclusive versions, edits and mixes that made collecting them fun and with some anticipation. Yes the audio quality isn’t what we expect in today’s world of high quality vinyl but they are Perfectly listenable and I for one will miss them.

Caroline

It seems a strange point to stop, just before Ashes To Ashes and Fashion, two of his most commercially successful and best loved songs. But they are expensive to make and perhaps the cost to income ratio wasn’t working out any more.

Eljay

It makes sense to release the cowboy cover first as the original usa release was in nov 1970. The dress cover will be 50 next april. I guess they will celebrate that with something too. Possibly there will be a german round cover release as well next year and a whole batch of 7 inch vinyl boxsets like they did with space oddity.
Obviously there’s gonna be a follow up to conversation piece later next year which will probably take in hunky dory also its 50th next December.
How that leaves the 90s boxset ive no idea as it would be a first to release 2 boxsets in the same year, I really thought we may get it this year but time is running out for an announcement, tho I think conversation piece was announced mid September for a November release so there is a bit of time left.

Wayne Olsen

I hope these get released in the US. It no longer makes sense to order from Europa.

Frankie

This was in the works since 2015

http://metrobolist.com/blog

David Perry

Nice info there, thanks for sharing!

Dan

Alternate mixes I have no problem with (Never Let Me Down was transformed!), but I’d just like to join the chorus of complaints about the piss-poor cover.

Adey

The best sounding mix I’ve ever heard of this album is a “reel to reel” hi res rip that i got from a friend. It beats every official version I own.

Adey

With all of these different coloured vinyl options/ random colour chances etc, I’m really glad I stopped collecting vinyl years ago, sticking mainly to cds.
I’m not knocking anybody who wants to collect every different variant, but some fellow fans/ collectors out there must feel a bit “exploited”

jazzydog

This is my favourite Bowie album but I can never get the copy I want. For me it would be black vinyl on a new but great sounding pressing. If I buy early pressings they are clicky or noisy (not surprising they are 50 years old) unless I pay extortionate money. All the new versions of early Bowie albums (this one, Hunky Dory, Ziggy, Aladdin Sane) sound clean but flat like they have been recorded from the CDs. In fact I have both the new vinyl pressings and the CDs, and the CDs sound better but not as good as the original vinyl. Personally I like the black and white ‘kick’ photos for the cover. When I listen to ‘All the madmen’ and look at the cover he looks the guy in the song. When Mick Ronson plays the extended guitar solo on ‘Width of a circle’ in the brubaker movie of ‘The rise and fall…’ all the flashing strobe lights tie in perfectly with this version of the album cover. I hope this turns out to be great pressing of this album (like the EMI 1997 pressing of Hunky Dory) then at least I can buy it at this perfectly reasonable price and just look at the original album cover.

Raymond Mitchell

There was various options for the artwork on this 50th Anniversary release of ‘ The Man Who Sold The World ‘ and possibly still are since the UK/Europe 50th Anniversary isn’t till April next year. Just announced the 1970 US cartoon cover by Mike Weller.

The 1971 Mercury Drag cover, Photo by Keef.
The 1971 Mercury (Germany) Round cover.
The 1972 RCA release with the black and white (Ziggy-era shot) by Brian Ward.

Take your pick

Dean

I think some are missing the point. The remix isn’t supposed to be BETTER than the original mix. How can a remix truly be better than the mix you’ve been familiar with for decades, and is engraved into your brain? This is simply an alternate version, which may – or may not – be a pleasure to listen too. For me Space Oddity remix was great. The Lodger remix? Meh.

That aside, it’s not been that good a time to be a Bowie fan. Four CD releases, 3 of them stupidly limited by RSD. That’s not good for music fans. Just put the damn music out for people to buy!

Also, I expected a follow up to Conversation Piece, not this. I actually prefer the cover I’ve known all these years, the high-kick black and white. I’d prefer that over this. Still, it’s cheap enough, and I’ve pre-ordered.

Brett

While I take your point, I think the 2019 remix of Abbey Road is better than the original.

Michael

I never liked any of the album covers chosen for this Bowie album — the cartoon Texas cowboy (looks like a country music album), DB in a frock (looks like a drag queen burlesque show), nor b&w photo of Bowie on stage doing a high-kick (looks like a live performance album). None of these images say anything about the great songs on this album! I wish Mike Weller did a cartoon rendering of Bowie as a space explorer or superhero for the album cover instead.

As such, I’ll probably just get the CD version of this so I can enjoy the Tony Visconti remastering, as he did a great job on the remastered “Space Oddity.”

Stevie T

I met Tony Visconti a few years ago when he was going to play TMWSTW with Holy Holy band. I asked him if he would join the band permanently and play other songs, he categorically said no, because he had not played bass on the original recordings. He hum.

Alan B

I am confused. Is the black vinyl edition not numbered? The white and gold vinyl editions are numbered. Also publicity says the coloured vinyl editions are randomly distributed but if the black vinyl ones are not, these coloured vinyls are going to be easy to spot. What is to stop some unscrupulous shop owner retaining the white vinyl copies for themselves to sell on third party sites. As for the 50 gold vinyl editions, if as you say Paul their number is pre designated, any retailer who gets one will instantly know they have a copy and will have a choice with what to do with it. Not saying there are unscrupulous retailers out there but if there are they have just been given the (golden) keys to be err unscrupulous. Might as put a sticker on the front saying “mega buck edition” enclosed.

frank

There is no way to know what is on the inside unless you open them. The Space Oddity 50th anniversary silver/gold’s were hand numbered on the actual record label themselves. think it’s safe to say that Metrobolist will be handled the same way.

Stephen

It’s the Willy Wonka & the Vinyl Factory approach to selling records.

Mike Bowie

Er , Ive heard differently , maybe not shining a light through the cover (changesonebowie) but something iffy !

Steve White

These releases must be a nightmare for retailers. With all the colour variants these days at least this is one where I’m pretty certain I’ll be getting the black vinyl.

motte

When I was not sure if to preorder or not my wife asked me the right question:
“What do you collect? The work of the artist David Bowie, right? So, is this remix a work of Bowie or approved by him?”
Good point. Didn’t preorder.
But I hope there will be a follow up to Conversation Piece with this remix on it.

Dan

@ motte –

It’s certainly a work by him, and according to many “in the know” close to db, he left a detailed plan for his catalogue – which included the new version of Never Let Me Down by Mario McNulty (approved and encouraged by Bowie) as well as new mixes of all the albums by their original producers where possible. So, to answer your wife’s question: yes, by him; and yes, approved by him.

Alain Brenez

Coloured copies are already sold out on Rhino UK web site.

Beechlander

From the Rhino webiste: “Please note all the vinyl will randomly distributed and you won’t know what colour you will receive until you open”. Same for all distributors – it’ll be pot luck if you get anything but black vinyl!

Soundwave2099

Gah, hate seeing this:

This item cannot be shipped to your selected delivery location. Please choose a different delivery location

Ordered from recordstore.co.uk instead.

Francis

What dreadful artwork! It spoils the fact it is a David Bowie album. Looks more like some cheap priced country and western LP. I will not be buying it.

Raymond

This is an exact reproduction of the 1970 US release of the ‘ Man Who Sold The World ‘ LP, on the Mercury label. Except the Font (Lettering) is different and obviously the title as changed, plus it’s now a gatefold and not a single sleeve.

Chris Hanington

I can see another 50th anniversary release coming in April 2021 of the dress cover…maybe that will come with unreleased rarities we are looking for. Perhaps the round cover will be released instead of the dress cover as that is obviously already available. I’m confident that the executives know what they have here and won’t pass by an opportunity to sell more of the same thing. They released both the UK and the US cover of Bowie’s second album so its definitely possible the same could do with this release. Just my thoughts…and wishes.

Rick

I have to agree with Ron Re.: Visconti’s Space Oddity remix; it’s an interesting curiosity, but I much prefer the original mix. The difference is jarring when you’ve been listening to a different mix for so long.

Sylent Syd

I’m down. I’ve been meaning to upgrade my old Rykodisc vinyl version of this album for awhile now.

Scott Carrick

Slightly off topic but Bowie related – does anyone know what happened to the Ashes To Ashes 40th Anniversary Picture Disc Release? Have ALL future releases been scuppered because of the Pandemic or will it be being released at a later date? Thanks in Advance to anybody who knows.

David Jones

I have it on very good authority that the series has been discontinued.

Scott Carrick

That’s a real shame, thanks for the reply anyway.

Mike Bowie

Weird or a coincidence that the Rykodisc vinyls were stopped at the Lodger stage too!

Frankie

So it’s fair to assume there will be no box set this year, of either this album or the 90’s.

Two things that could happen: stand-alone releases (for example Arnold Corns 7″) leading up to a Conversation Piece follow-up, collecting everything from this period.

OR

Conversation Piece follow-up collecting both TMWSTW and Hunky Dory material.

Laura

I’m getting the CD, if it comes out as a Japanese paper sleeve, even better. It will go nicely with my original german round cover vinyl, japanese paper sleeves and CD re-issues :)

Stephen

Feels like a cash-in. I know we don’t HAVE to buy it, but is this really the best way to curate the legacy? It’s just a remix, whatever they change the title to. I would far rather we heard something “new”.

Elizabeth Hirst

I will buy this for completeness – I may slip it inside the Five Years box as I have the book on a separate shelf. I’m buying it as a black vinyl and if I get a limited one then I’ll regard that as a treat. I’m not a Bowie completists – that way penury lies.

Wesley

Truth.

Chris Carter

Paul. Does the tracklisting here confirm the sequence of songs on the album? When Bowie delivered the Metrobolist album to Mercury Records the proposed tracklisting was…

Side 1:
The Supermen
Saviour Machine
Running Gun Blues
She Shook Me Cold
The Man Who Sold The World

Side 2:
Black Country Rock
The Width Of A Circle
All The Madmen
After All

This explains why one can hear the beginning of ‘Saviour Machine’ at the end of ‘The Supermen’ on some pressings, eg the German Mercury.

I was hoping that they would release it with the original tracklisting restored – as Mr Bowie wanted.

Ann Coates

Wow – didn’t know that. And that tracklisting does make sense..

Jason

Oooh I like this tracklist order better!

Ben Williams

I like that the Bowie camp are putting out plenty of Bowie stuff but my gripe is the random nature of it all… rather than focus on one period at a time we seem to get all sorts across the year e.g. streaming-only 90s live/radio session things and then 50th anniversary picture discs and then a remixed album and then RSD exclusive live releases and then a Tin Machine reissue. It’s great this stuff is coming out but the release strategy is odd in my opinion.

But not wanting to sound all negative, it is cool they did something a bit different with the artwork for this one :)

Scott Carrick

Yeah think they;ve shot themselves in the foot cancelling the 40th Anniversary Picture Disc releases, they were a huge seller :-(

Mike Bowie

Its not different to a lot of older Bowie fans , me included, I bought my copy in the late 70s sonny ! LOL .

BaronADH

Can I just check that the one up for sale on amazon is definitely the random colour edition? I only say this as a few people on social media intimated that rhino had the exclusivity for this version like they did with the ‘is it any wonder‘ along with the DB store (sold out on rhino now) and any other retailers including amazon would only be selling the black? Will other retailers get it? Cheers

Ron

The remix of Space Oddity was nice but not better then the original version. For me these remasters, remixes, re-whatever are nice (and expensive!) add-ons.

The who sold the world is (in my opinion) DB’s masterpiece. It’s very hard to beat the original master mix!!

Steve Williams

I’m a bit torn about this. It feels like there will be a box set of the album coming soon and I’d prefer to have black vinyl but it is a reasonable price so I am tempted.

granata

Ordering in hope for black PVC. More interested in sound quality than gimmicky colours with likely inferior sound. Happy to arrange a swap if I get unlucky and receive coloured.

FatboyBrando

Would be happy to swap granata.

Kevin O.

Unless things have changed in the last 40 years, all vinyl is naturally colorless. Whether black, blue, yellow, green, purple, or whatever, the color is added.

https://blog.discogs.com/en/true-colors-black-or-colored-vinyl/

Ed

I love the artwork and alternate title , I’m gonna preorder in the hope I get a coloured one . But fully expect to be disappointed

Jarmo Keranen

I’d much rather look Bowie in the dress than that stupid drawing with the shotgun!