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David Bowie - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars CD (album) cover


David Bowie


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4.22 | 654 ratings

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4 stars well , here we are at David's most famous album. On 'Hunky Dory' Bowie dipped his toes into the emerging world of glam rock, but here he goes for a swim, exploring glam rock's boundaries, with a concept album, which stretches Bowie's already acomplished story telling to the extreme. Wow, I'm sorry for such a long sentence. On this album Bowie has everything from enrgy filled rock anthems, symphonic arrangements and depressing ballads. Mick Ronson cements his staus as one of the most important guitarists in rock, while also taking care of the string arrangements. The rest of The Spiders Form Mars, play very well also. I would also, for the first time, like to mention Toni Visconti's brilliant production. Somehow it is grimy and dirty enough to fit the music, while everything still sounds crystal clear. In a way it could be compared to Phil Spector's legendary 'wall of sound technique, but not to the same extent as it was used on recordings produced by that man.

In 'Five Years' we can already see the more symphonic bent Bowie is aiming towards. This song sets the scene for the concept. It is unusual in structure, as all the verses are sung, before the soaring chorus enters, and is repeated until the end of the tune. This starts the album on a very high point. 'Soul Love' is a standard glam rock song, albeit a very hard-hitting one. 'Moonage Daydream' is one of my favourites here. It sounds like a simple verse-chorus structure, but within these limits it varies from pure hard rock to soaring symphonic string arrangements. The lyrics are as abstract and spacey as ever. The riff is a ton of bricks in parts, and Mick's guitar playing is literally stellar (for those who don't know stellar means star-like, but is used as a general superlative). 'Starman' is a catchy commercial track with a brilliant chorus and a certain feel about it. This is a pure pop gem, and as pop goes it is extremely intelligent and progressive. 'It Ain't Easy' is a cover of a song by Ron Davies (definitely NOT Ray Davies of Kinks fame). It is a brilliant dirty rock n roll track with Bowie singing like a maniac on speed, despite it being a somewhat spiritual song. 'Lady Stardust' is as dark as anything, and the slowest song so far. Bowie excelled at writing ballads like this, slow and gloomy, but with the true glam spirit bleeding out of his voice and the late Ronson's guitar. 'Star' is once again pure glam, with one of my favourite endings ever. There is not much to say about this short song, apart from that it is essential to the album, and a very good track. 'Hang onto Yourself' is easy to miss or look over. This a shame as it is one of the hidden delight's of the album. This leaves the glam behind and becomes pure rock. Bowie spits out the lyrics like poison on this dark and wonderful song. But now for the main attraction: the immortal 'Ziggy Stardust'. The guitar on this song shines brighter than a... crazy diamond? Sorry for that very random analogy. Ziggy is an iconic song, and with no real chorus has an interesting structure, ending with its first immortal lyrics: 'Ziggy Played Guitar'. After such a great song we want to calm things down a bit right? Wrong! 'Suffragette City' is one of Bowie's most energetic rock songs, which sums up glam like little else. As David tells his vaguely mysoginistic tale he screams the lines 'Wham Bang Thank You Ma'am', cementing this song in our minds for years to come. Now things finally calm down with 'Rock N' Roll Suicide', a depressing ballad, and possibly my favourite on the album. David sings of detatchment and an aging rock star. Maybe he knew that one day this would happen to him. He did after all, make himself into Ziggy Stardust, the subject of all the album's songs. The song's dramatic ending finishes the album with perfection.

While it is one of my favourite Bowie albums, it does not do for me what the previous two albums did. It is for one, more commercial, and progressive touches are all but gone. However, it would be a tragedy not to have this in your collection.

I cannot recomend this to any particular group of proggers, because it is quite poppy in comparison. People who like the 'Crossover Prog' genre may like this, and it is essential for any classic rock fans. I give it four stars, but believe me, these are the biggest, most well deserved four stars I shall ever give.

burtonrulez | 4/5 |


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