Can Bowie turn acclaim and hype into record sales?

Fri Mar 8, 2013 12:07pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - He caught the music world napping in January with his first new song in a decade and soon had critics searching for superlatives to describe his new album "The Next Day".

The next big question for David Bowie and his remarkable comeback is whether the element of surprise and subsequent acclaim will turn into record sales.

"The Next Day" is in stores on Monday in Britain, where industry watchers are confident it will top the album charts, and on Tuesday in the United States, where the "Space Oddity" singer has enjoyed more patchy success in the past.

It is already available in other key markets, and the early signs are that the 66-year-old master of reinvention has a hit on his hands.

According to his official website, the deluxe version of the recording went to No. 1 on the digital iTunes album charts in 11 of 12 countries where it was released on Friday, including Australia, Germany and Sweden.

"There has been a lot of interest in both the social and traditional media which will connect not only with the established fan base but also with younger fans," said Gennaro Castaldo, head of press at British music retailer HMV.

"As a campaign, I can't think of many that have been more brilliantly orchestrated," he added.

Ironically, part of that "campaign" has been for Bowie to remain invisible, allowing collaborators like producer Tony Visconti to tell the media about how the star's first studio album since 2003's "Reality" came about.   Continued...

Singer David Bowie receives the Webby Lifetime Achievement award during the 11th annual Webby Awards honoring online content in New York June 5, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson