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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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4.27 | 748 ratings

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5 stars Ziggy Ziggy Ziggy...... Glam Rock's alien icon who tried and failed to save planet Earth from from some rather gloomy apocalypse that has more relevance today than in '72. Due to his prophesying of the coming of a 'Starman' who will be Earth's saviour (a bit Biblical, don't you think?), Ziggy is overwhelmed by popularity and rock stardom, which inflates his ego proportionally; he gets excessive, sings songs and lies, and ultimately is killed by obvious but non-descript causes. The story is dreadful but the character is interesting, more so because Bowie kind of became Ziggy for a couple of years. This album is not spoilt by its concept because the concept doesn't actually feature much, and most of the songs aren't narrative ones, but actually the songs Ziggy sings within the story. And because he's really David Bowie, he happens to be very talented, so it is no surprise that the songs on this album are amazing.

'Five Years' is formed around a rather simple musical idea (four cute chords), on which layers of texture are built upon as Bowie sings his heart out about how doomed everybody is. It gets quite emotional, proving that you don't need to be progressive at all to tell a sci-fi story. 'Soul Love' is my favourite from the album. Again, there's nothing special about the composition, but the execution of it is very stirring, particularly the ghostly vocals in the background. The guitar and saxophone play some wonderful melodies here too. 'Moonage Daydream' is the third cracker, in which Ziggy really comes to life, sticking his 'ray gun' in every corner of the 'church of man love'. The guitar solo is incredible during the outro. Then we have the lead single 'Starman', which is just a great glam-pop song, and everybody has heard it. 'It Aint Easy', a strange choice, being a country rock cover, closes the first side with some tense harpsichord verses and a rocking chorus. Side one is near-perfect!

'Lady Stardust' is a ballad that is just satisfactory to me, but it does help break up the harder tracks on the record, which includes 'Star', a proto-punk romp that you can tell is more carefully written than the 'attitude' it exudes. 'Hang On To Yourself' is similarly upbeat, portraying the Spiders from Mars as they console Ziggy. The title track is another of the album's peaks, and is a very sad song about the alien rock star's decline. 'Suffragette City' has a Roxy Music feel to it, but it's only a mediocre rock and roll song (the synth bass line is cool though). Then the album comes to an end with 'Rock & Roll Suicide', an epic finale that is similarly constructed to 'Five Years'. It ends in a Sgt Pepper-like fashion, with a big crescendo, a quick pause, then a single major chord (although this one doesn't last for ages).

Ziggy Stardust is a magical glam rock album with plenty of charm and emotion, and only three or four songs that aren't killers. Side one is definitely the more innovative, with side two containing songs more in an Elton John vein, but the whole thing is essential. And while the concept is weak, it doesn't intrude into the album's songs too much anyway. Cool, spacey, epic.... how could this not fit into a prog collection?

thehallway | 5/5 |


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