NEW YORK: British rock icon David Bowie released his first album in a decade Thursday, streaming the comeback record exclusively on iTunes.
The highly anticipated surprise release -- coming more than a week before its commercial launch on March 12 -- will be streamed on Apple's media player until the album is formally made available in stores.
On his official Facebook page, Bowie said that fans would have a chance in the coming days to win signed "deluxe" copies of the album if they indicate their favorite tracks.
"Spread the word children," he said.
The new album contains 14 tracks and the deluxe version includes three bonus tracks.
Bowie has enlisted British actress Tilda Swinton for a music video of one of the album's tracks, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)."
On January 8, he unveiled a new single -- "Where Are We Now?" -- to coincide with his 66th birthday.
Bowie has been a relative recluse in recent years, having released no new music since his last album, 2003's "Reality," and having not performed live since 2006.
Britain's Independent newspaper has described "The Next Day" album as "the greatest comeback album in rock'n'roll history".
The musician, whose real name is David Jones, reportedly spent most of the past decade living in New York with his wife, the Somali-American model Iman, and their daughter.
He underwent a medical procedure for a blocked artery in 2004.
Bowie's androgynous style and outrageous costumes -- often worn as part of his alter egos Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane in the 1970s -- shook up the world of rock 'n' roll and catapulted him to worldwide stardom.
He has sold an estimated 140 million albums over a career spanning almost 50 years.