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


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Deeply inspired by the rise and fall of Vince Taylor (whom Bowie incidentally met in 1971). David/Ziggy will mix this story with science-fiction themes, the atmosphere of the star rock system mixing the whole stuff with his androgynous look. Ziggy will appear as such on stage. Intelligent glam rock? Probably.

Bolan was considered as the first glam-rock star and Bowie did appreciate him a lot (even if they are going to have some personal problems). In an interview, Visconti declared that the first glam-rock concert he has ever seen took place as soon as March 70. During a performance from "The Hype" which was the first incarnation of a pre-Spiders lineup (Bolder and Woodmansey joining later). Nothing new then.

Now about the album.

Dear friend Ziggy came from Mars to free our good old blue planet. "Five years", that's all we've got before the big clash. It is my fave from the album. A fantastic and emotional crescendo fantastically orchestrated. The first highlight (it's the opening number) out of many, many, oh so many...

As "Tommy", "Ziggy Stardust" has recurring themes and therefore is considered as a concept album as well, although two songs don't really sit here. The single "Starman" (even if its theme is sci-fi driven) and the cover "Ain't It Easy" which could have been released on "The Man." since it is a really heavy one. The latter being the less interesting of the whole. But competition was tough. As usual when talking about a masterpiece.

"Moonage Daydream", which was written a year prior to the Ziggy rehearsals is quite remarkable since it depicts Ziggy's transformation. But do remember that one can find a trace of "Lilywhite Lilith" (from a band you might have heard of.) as soon as in 1971 (in an unreleased song called "The Light") so.

Noticeably enough, the second side of the album is stronger while usually, the concept falls rather flat in this type of projects. "Lady Stardust", strongly making strong references to Bolan (during the Rainbow shows, a giant picture of Marc will be projected on screen during this song). Bowie was a fan (so was/am I). And he showed it.

Little by little, Ziggy is reaching fame "I could fall asleep at night as a rock & roll star. I could fall in love all right as a rock & roll star ("Star").

The fall is severe during "Ziggy Stardust". The character play between the members of the band and the star is quite hard: "Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo. Like some cat from Japan, he could lick 'em by smiling. He could leave 'em to hang Came on so loaded man, well hung and snow white tan".

The last words are rather premonitory: "Making love with his ego, Ziggy sucked up into his mind. Like a leper messiah When the kids had killed the man I had to break up the band"!

That's exactly what David/Ziggy will do a little later.

A highlight of course, but the next two songs are absolutely on par. The fantastic rocking "Suffragette City" describing Ziggy's paranoia and finally "Rock & Roll Suicide". Ziggy's anthem.

This song is superb, dramatic, emotive, passionate, desperate, dark, dark, dark. but so beautiful. Gosh, how many time did I ever listen to that one? And the same magic is still there. "Oh no love! You're not alone. No matter what or who you've been, No matter when or where you've seen. All the knives seem to lacerate your brain I've had my share, I'll help you with the pain. You're not alone".

What a great song. Thanks a lot Ziggy.

The whole tour is a full dementia. Outrageous make-up, weird clothes, provocative sexual attitudes (have a look at the video/DVD of the Rainbow concert to figure out).

David is more and more turning into Ziggy and they both will end up as one entity (and he was not alone). This situation will turn him into a major schizophrenic crisis and he will decide dramatically to put an end to the Ziggy adventure on stage.

None of the Spiders had a clue about it. But all of a sudden they just lost .their job. But we've seen that it was written in the lyrics, so.

The album peaked at the fifth spot in the UK. The "Rolling Stone" magazine placed this album in the 35th spot of the 500 albums of all times. Not bad.

Did I say masterpiece?

Report this review (#174855)
Posted Sunday, June 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#174937)
Posted Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Bowie did much better before (and after)!

In my opinion, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars is an overrated David Bowie album. In terms of progressive Rock, albums like Space Oddity and especially The Man Who Sold The World are much stronger albums. A couple of the songs here actually originated from the The Man Who Sold The World sessions. On one edition of the latter album, earlier versions these songs appeared as bonus tracks and personally I prefer the earlier versions. These earlier versions are more Rock. The present album already saw Bowie move away from gritty Rock as such and towards the Funk and Soul that would culminate in the terrible Young Americans album. A more slick production and the presence of Pop tunes and Saxophones.

Another thing that brings this album down is the presence of cover songs. Space Oddity and The Man Who Sold The World were more original albums and more distinctively Bowie to my ears. Ziggy Stardust may be Bowie's commercial breakthrough, but earlier and some later albums are more interesting from a Prog perspective. Prog fans are advised to hear Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold The World and even Aladdin Sane and Scary Monsters before they hear the present album. Even the uneven so-called Berlin trilogy are more interesting from a Prog perspective than Ziggy Stadust in my opinion.

Ziggy Stadust is decent, but quite overrated

Report this review (#177365)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars

''Five Years'' talks of how we have five years left to live.The drum beat by Mick Woodmansey is very great at opening the song.David Bowie's writing is innovative.Its abit of an anthem in its own right.

''Soul Love'' has an great drum opening.But to me what really stands out on this track would be Bowie's powerful voice.I really enjoy listening to ''Soul Love'' despite its poppiness. Like his contemporary Peter Gabriel,Bowie can also seduce you with his voice.''Soul Love'' is an example of that.

''Moonage Daydream'' is a straight forward rock'n'roll track.The highlight of this song Mick Ronson's guitar work.Its a rock classic.This is the heaviest song on the entire album.

''It Ain't Easy'' is a folkish rock track.It does show the band at a high.

''Lady Stardust'' is an amazing track.He really delivers with this song.Rumour has it its dedicated to Marc Bolan.Anyways,its a moving song.I just admire this song.

''Star'' opens with a piano riff.The harmonizing of it and the guitar is great.And the part where Bowie is like''Get it on'' just makes me want to jump on a stage and rock out.This is the perfect rock song.It begins Ziggy Stardust's journey as a rock and roll star.

''Ziggy Stardust'' is probably Bowie's most well known track.Bowie's vocals seduce you once again. Mick Ronson pounds the guitar like its the last time he'll ever play.''But boy could he play guitar''really sums up Mr.Ronson.

''Suffragette City'' is a very good song with hard tinge like ''Moonage Daydream''.I actually dance when I hear this song.In the words of David Bowie ''Its outta sight''.

''Rock and Roll Suicide'' is the ending of this album.And with this song the album goes out with a bang. The best ending ever to an album,IMO.This song is wonderful.Its mesmerorizing and very memorable.

No,I know what you're saying hey this isn't prog.Actually this is a very progressive album.And many prog bands later would follow a formula similar to this album.

Its no shocker what I'm going to give this album.

Report this review (#178128)
Posted Thursday, July 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Bowie´s masterpiece, no doubt about it. It fascinated me when I was 15 and still does, maybe even more so now. Ziggy Stardust is not only his most famous work but also his best, in a career full of great records, many changes and wild mood swings. This concept album is everything you´re looking for in progressive rock: groundbreaking, intelligent, well crafted, innovative and - why not? - outrageously dare. Ok, it´s not symphonic prog in any way, but I firmly believe prog music is much more than that.

With The Rise And Fall... Bowie finally found the right sound and the right band. All his previous works had some glimpses of his genious, but were rather unfocused or somehow badly delivered or both. Now with sideman Mick Ronson to give his music the necessary power and arrangements, he truly shines. His songwriting is absolutely amazing and the lyrics are awesome for such a young and disturbed artist. Highlights are many, but my favorites were always the epic Five Years, Lady Stardust, Sufragette City and the fantastic Moonage Daydream (with the great Mick Ronson guitar solo in the end). Rock´n´Roll suicide took me some time to really figure out how interesting and novel it was for the 70´s scene, and it is one of his greatest works.

The production was right for his sound and the music aged very well. The remaining tracks rate somewhere between good and very good. With no fillers of any kind, this is an album one appreciates just listening to the music, but if you follow the lyrics you´ll understnad why Bowie was such a great songwriter and visionary.

A classic album, that every prog fan should listen to, specially if you like concept albums. And everyone with an open mind should own this one, even if you don´t like what he has done before or since. Five stars with honors.

Report this review (#179255)
Posted Saturday, August 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ziggy played guitar.

Now, this is the one, the one record of Bowie, you need. Here are all the hits, all the great Songs, you have heard somewhere and you might have thought: this is great music. And it is. I do not know much about the time when this was released, but today, still, this is on par with the best stuff the Beatles published at their time. Every single Song here is a killer. I remember listening to "Rock'n'Roll Suicide" over and over again, getting drunk and thinking: That's it, there is no Song, no Singer, who could say it any better. This is not Music, this is history. I remember getting this record, listening to it, forgetting it for a few years, and suddenly the words pop into my mind: time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth. And those lines were reason enough not to stop smoking. This is essential stuff. If you don't know it, you missed something, seriously. There is no way to understand the Sex Pistols or anything that came after this, without knowing what happened here. Is it Prog? I do not know. But it sure is art.

I have never seen the movie and I don't intend to, but what Bowie creates her is his ultimate Persona, which would have repercussions in later achievements like Ashes to Ashes. It all starts here and it starts with a Bang. There is not one weak Song on this Album. Sure, there are the hits: Starman, Rock'n'Roll Suicide, Moonage daydream and others, but the album has to be swallowed as a whole. It's a new world opening up, this is one cornerstone of Bowies Career and rightfully so. I don't know, if it is an essential addition to any Prog Collection, but it sure is essential to know this for anyone interested in popular Music of the 20th century.

Report this review (#196693)
Posted Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars' - David Bowie (9/10)

Undeniably a man whose work verged on that of being true genius, it's easy to say that his best-known and most influential work is a masterpiece. While not being progressive (David Bowie certainly has his prog moments, but the 'Ziggy Stardust' prog moments are few and far between) it certainly shows great influence towards the world of progressive music, and works amazingly as an album.

While the lyrical content for the most part isn't completely genius (although there are a few songs such as 'Five Years' and 'Rock n' Roll Suicide' that have some very soulful words for the songster himself) it gets the story across properly enough. To put it simply, the album revolves around the rise to fame of a marooned alien Ziggy Stardust who lands on Earth and starts a rock band.

My favourite song on this album would have to be the opener 'Five Years.' Each time I listen to it, I can still feel great emotion from it. While 'emotion' isn't exactly the main concentration of the album, 'Five Years' has sentiment in droves. The rest of it has some of the best glam rock ever made.

For those who like classic/glam rock, this is the perfect album to buy. Don't expect anything highly progressive, but if you let the songwriting wash over you, you might discover something fantastic.

Report this review (#224034)
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Many consider this a progressive rock masterpiece, but I don't even hear progressive rock at all. Probably the main thing that keeps this album from being interesting to me is the overuse of clichés with respect to chord progressions and lyrics. Musically, this had been acclaimed as a definitive rock and roll album, but I hear an unmistakable country music drive. Other times, I would safely compare it to Elton John or Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I won't bother with the story of this harebrained concept album, because I've read the author's explanation of it, and I'm not altogether sure even he knows what is going on. There are a few noteworthy songs ("Starman" is brilliant), but other than that, this album really does not appeal to me.

"Five Years" Lazy drums and a simple chord progression hammered out by piano, acoustic guitar, and thudding bass make up this laidback waltz. Bowie's voice is unstable and becomes even more so toward the end of the song. Still, it's a pretty good tune and one of the better ones present.

"Soul Love" The second song is another loose one, with easygoing percussion throughout most of the work, and a decent saxophone solo over a straightforward chord progression.

"Moonage Daydream" This song is a heavier acoustic song, with more forceful singing.

"Starman" "Starman" is a funky, acoustic-driven song, and probably my favorite on the album. The singing and melody are unmistakably Bowie's, despite sounding similar to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (Bowie admitted to borrowing the melody and "perverting" it), and for once there's more to the arrangement than simple early 1970s light rock music- essential Bowie.

"It Ain't Easy (Ron Davies)" For so many reasons, this song is very similar to early southern rock from the United States.

"Lady Stardust" More piano and acoustic guitar work through this one-dimensional number.

"Star" Pairing boogie-woogie with some light psychedelic vocals is an interesting venture, and is one that especially sounds like Elton John.

"Hang on to Yourself" Like heavy sock-hop music, this song incorporates fun, catchy melodies and an upbeat rhythm.

"Ziggy Stardust" Quite similar to Tom Petty or perhaps Steve Miller, this is yet another simple, easygoing acoustic rock song.

"Suffragette City" Upbeat and hard-rocking, this song brings to mind the likes of Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

"Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" The final track relies on strummed acoustic guitar, Bowie's folksy-side as a vocalist, and eventually a solid rhythm section (including brass) backing him up. For me, it is the second honestly powerful track, with a worthy dramatic vocal performance that would have made for a fantastic finale had everything that preceded it been leading up to it.

Report this review (#272371)
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ah, Ziggy, how great thou art! I have loved this album for years and have had it on about 4 different mediums up to Ipod. Just about anything of Bowie's that featured Mick Ronson I enjoy. I will not go into detail much because so many others have already done so, but I will say that it is a near perfect rock album- just the right mix of ballads and rockers, great music, great lyrics, good story. I guess it is not really "prog" in the classical, symphonic, jazz, etc.. sense but in terms of opening up new vistas of rock, then prog it is! Favorite songs- "Five Years", "Rock and Roll Suicide". Rating- 5 stars.
Report this review (#275610)
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Ziggy Stardust is a classic title coming with high praise from most rock critics. But just like many other highly praised classics, I find it hard to see it as anything better then average. Each song is memorable, catchy and witty, but the predictable chord progression clichés and verse-chorus pop structures aren't bound to get me very excited about this album anytime soon.

But it's not just a matter of formal structure. On top of that, I find this album missing character and personality. The production is nice, but simply too safe and typically pop: harmless guitar sounds, soft drums, a dot of piano, sweet violins and vocals that are completely pushed to the fore, dominating everything else. It's a singer songwriter type of album so of course this is what the fans of the style expect, but it is too tame for me and it has aged rather badly. There's next to nothing in the arrangements providing for a deeper layer, nor is their any musical development or any other excitement catching my attention.

That being said, the songwriting is very good for the genre. But only Moonage Daydream really stands out and brings back the emotive power of my favourite Bowie album The Man Who Sold The World. Mick Ronson shines with a great solo that provides the first (and only) moment on the album where the music is allowed to take the spotlight. Also the Suffragette City sounds fun.

Ziggy Stardust nowhere reaches the majesty of The Man Who Sold The World for me. It is a good classic rock album, but unfortunately, that happens to be a type of music I really don't like at all. So I generally condemn this album to serve as background music when having folks over for a visit. 2 stars for me, upped for its obvious qualities.

Report this review (#280336)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A concept album about a struggling musician, now where have we heard this before?

Now this may seem like a worn out concept these days, but this was of course the first one, the one that started it all, and was it good? Wellll, it is, just not all of it, in my honest opinion i though it dragged on a bit even though its not that long of an album, i just didnt enjoy the album as much as i thought i was going to, saying that everyone loves it so much.

True there are some good songs on here, the title track for example ZIGGY STARDUST is an enjoyable romp of pop rock brilliance and may be one of the saving graces in this album, others include, MOONAGE DAYDREAM with its cool middle section (the intro is quite cool as well), STARMAN, LADY STARDUST, and SUFFRAGETTE CITY, thats it really...the rest i cant really see any point of having on this album as it only really just seems to slow it down a little, theres really nothing else that grips you, the production is solid though as is the playing, its a shame the songs arint as strong as they should;

Five Years - 4/10 Soul Love - 5/10 Moonage Daydream - 9/10 Starman - 9/10 It Ain't Easy (Ron Davies) - 5/10 Lady Stardust - 9/10 Star - 7/10 Hang on to Yourself -6/10 Ziggy Stardust - 9/10 Suffragette City - 8/10 Rock 'n' Roll Suicide - 7/10

My Conclusion? there are 4 good songs on this release, the sorry, i just thought it was not as strong as other Bowie albums, even those 4 songs can really save this album as the fillers outnumber the killers.

Report this review (#283110)
Posted Saturday, May 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Whilst many do not consider ...Ziggy Stardust a progressive rock album, most are unanimous in declaring it a classic album. This album was so influential, so groundbreaking when it was released. Although concept albums had been done before, they had never rreally been told in the way that Bowie tells it here.

Musically, the album is equally as great, with rockers like "Moonage Daydream" and more gentle, calmer songs such as "Starman". It doesn't matter who or what you like, David Bowie is so versatile when it comes to music he has everything. This was his peeak and will remain a classic as long as music exists. It rocks. A lot.

Report this review (#285058)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Good prog album or just good classic rock album? Well, having a general concept helps--at least in my mind--cement the prog aspect. Regardless of classification, it would be tough to argue that this is anything but very solid music, largely throughout the album. There's not a song on here that I find subpar, and that's coming from an admitted "song-skipper".

About that concept...well, I don't know that much, and I probably just don't really need to. Others may, but I can't speak to whether the story makes sense or not. I'm listening for the good tunes, and there's plenty here to appreciate!

Highlights include Five Years, Moonage Daydream and Rock-n-Roll Suicide. How Bowie greatest hits albums could have been released without these first two is beyond me, because they're both easily in my all-time top ten Bowie tracks. Five Years sets the mood for the spacey main character wonderfully, and the string arrangements really compliment the emotion of the song nicely--particularly for 1972! Moonage Daydream is simply a classic, with great melody and a memorable guitar outtro. R&R Suicide is not a great song in itself, but it features a really nice buildup that works great in bringing the album to a close.

The rest? Well, it's all solid stuff, from the radio favorites (Ziggy and Suffragette) to standard rockers to playful songs (Starman and Lady Stardust), which sometimes remind me ever so slightly of Canterbury style.

Overall, one of the top classic rock albums with prog influences, though not a prog masterpiece. Ziggy Stardust is by far Bowie's best album in my opinion.

Report this review (#285115)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Quirky, British, and shallow in all the wrong places, but oh baby, does this thing ooze personality and charm...

Best Song - A good half the record qualifies, really.

..And good melodies, too. Yes, this is the most famous Bowie album for miles, and one of the most famous rock records in existence, so you're either thinking it's gonna be absolute garbage, or a timeless master-work for the ages, huh? Well, after listening to this sucker four times in a row, and still at least -liking- every track, I gotta say... it's a minor masterpiece.

The biggest detrimental draw is to call it all stupid glam trash and go listen to your fancy Yes records or something, but, I just don't get it. At their core, most of these songs are interesting acoustic rock songs that are 'glammed' up by driving electric guitars, sure. But, these songs got much more than image backing them. Even in the album's weakest tracks, there is some form of fantastic and engaging melody, or stunning Bowie vocal moment. Usually, I don't tout David's singing as ever having been phenomenal, but here he packs each song, along with some help from his head guitarist, with such a raw and hard hitting energy, again, all tied neatly into concise and melodically strong rock tunes.

I can't really attach any of the typical glam rock accusations here, either. None of the songs are overtly shallow or fake. They all sound convincing, even if the so called rock opera's plot is a nonsensically vague and disconnected mess. It's mainly just a collection of wonderful, if mildly related, hard rocking pop songs. David is at his most polished and paranoid, right from the start, with the grooving and almost bar-room quality of "Five Years". And, as much as I might see the second rate rocker "star" as just that, a typical, if not quite energetic and memorable rocker, there are no filler songs. Besides, if there's something you don't like, it's barely going to be two or three minutes long, anyway. Indeed, ol' Bowie practices the fine art of quality over quantity, and gives us all a short assault of top class stuff.

There's diversity, too. You got your up front hard rockers (Star, Suffragette City) and you got your versatile mixes of both in your face blasting and softer acoustic/piano bridging (Moonage Daydream, Ziggy Stardust), and even a damned Elton John style balled (Lady Stardust). Even if the whole play is a singer/guitar show, it's a smash. I can't really find any glaring flaws. The weakest links are still fine and dandy, while the several classics are all ....well, classic. It's got too many high points to be ignored, and the lows are grand, anyway. Now, if only mister Bowie can explain to me exactly how all these songs fit to make a coherent plot...

13/15 - A minor masterpiece.

Report this review (#285610)
Posted Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'll say this up front: as far as all-time immortal classics go, Ziggy Stardust sounds pretty weak to my ears. As I'm sure many people have, I bought Ziggy Stardust before any of his other albums, and my first few listens left me absolutely dumbfounded that seemingly everybody - everybody - regarded this an all-time immortal classic. Everything about the album just seemed off to me: the hooks seemed a little too big and dumb; the "rocking out" aspects seemed forced and unnatural; the moments of "beauty" felt completely phoney, and overall, the album just seemed a lot less interesting than it seemed to think it was. I decided that a large part of the album's appeal must have been in the image of Bowie as Ziggy, and of whatever message the album had tried to convey, but because the story was so loose in terms of how it was presented, I couldn't even get into the album from that direction. I eventually got to a point where I didn't hate the album, but it definitely didn't strike me as any great shakes.

Well, maybe it's just the passage of time, or maybe it's just all of the times I've ended up listening to the album (perhaps leading to some form of Stockholm Syndrome), but my appreciation for it has gone up enough over time that I admire it at a level that's reasonably close to how most other people treat it. I still consider it pretty weak as far as all-time great albums go, but as far as very good albums go, this is fantastic. An album with 11 songs, a few of them terrific, none of them bad, all of them with at least some distinctly interesting aspects, with reasonable diversity, has to be given a very high rating, doesn't it? If not, there's no sense to this whole reviewing business.

One aspect of the album I consider a bit of misnomer is the way this album is labeled as a "glam" album. Calling Ziggy a "glam" album is kinda like calling The Beatles a "guitar-rock" album; while there's probably more glam on the album than any other particular genre, there's not so much more glam here than every other genre combined that narrowly pegging the album into that category necessarily fits in. I mean, "Soul Love" is basically a soul song (naturally) at heart; "Five Years," "Starman" and "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" could have belonged in a Broadway show without much difficulty, and "Lady Stardust" is basically a conventional anthemic piano ballad. Sure, the other songs on here can basically be pegged as glam rock (either partially or entirely), but still, those tracks make up just a little more than half of the album.

Neither the glam portion of the album nor the non-glam portion is quite perfect, but they're each really good on the whole. "Five Years" introduces the concept (not really focused upon the rest of the album), of an alien rock star come down to cheer up the world before it ends in five years, and while it ends up somewhat overdramatic (not necessarily in a bad way, but not necessarily good either), I do find I feel a genuine twinge of emotion in the line, "I never thought I'd need so many people." It's rambling, yet like much of the rambling material on this album, it ends up being quite memorable at the same time. "Soul Love" isn't quite great either, but it's definitely really good, especially in the first half of the verse melody and in the closing "chorus" lines of, "Inspiration have I none/just to touch the flaming dove/All I have is my love of love/and love is not loving."

Skipping ahead (sticking to the non-glam tracks for now), "Starman" is the point in the story where Ziggy writes a song to inspire hope in the world, and it's only fitting that it should be one of the highlights of the album (and Bowie's career). The verses feature a nice low-key guitar groove that reminds me a lot of Loaded-era Velvet Underground, but it's the grandiose chorus, less rock and more showtunes (and just fine for it), that makes this song work as well as it does. And don't you forget the simple repeated piano notes that bridge the verses and the chorus; the song wouldn't be quite as great without it. Elsewhere, "Lady Stardust" may be glam in subject matter (about Ziggy in drag, playing his songs), but it's just top-rate piano balladry as far as I'm concerned. And finally, "Rock and Roll Suicide" is as over-the-top as the album gets, and while I don't love it (I still don't feel like it ends the album on quite the high note that other people seem to think), I'll definitely admit that the mix of Bowie's screams and his deep-voiced backing vocals provide some real power.

Among the glam tracks, the only one I'd consider a weak link is "Star," yet even that one works as an enjoyable boogie-rocker with addictive guitar and piano parts. "Moonage Daydream" has one of the most fascinating choruses I know, careening from anthemic majesty into angry riffage in an incredibly intense jolt, while bringing great power to a section whose lyrics start with "Keep your 'lectric eye on me babe" and end with "Freak out in a moonage daydream oh! Yeah!" The cover of "It Ain't Easy" has never been one of my absolute favorites on the album (oddly, it didn't even belong to the album originally, as it was recorded during the Hunky Dory sessions), but even I'd be hardpressed to deny the impressive contrast between the countryish licks and the stomping "IT AIN'T EASY..." chorus. It's not really a classic, but it kinda feels like one.

The remaining tracks are grouped together on side two, and they're an impressive bunch. "Hang on to Yourself" is often considered a quintessential glam-rock song, but I'm not sure I'd have known that if I hadn't been told; all I know for sure is that the riffs are just heavy enough without losing any crispness, the song is as catchy as anything on the album, and that the tempo feels just about perfect. The title track is, of course, the album's brief full-fledged return to the concept, and while I don't really care about the lyrics, I do care about the interesting combination of the slow winding riff in the verses and the more driving, powerful riffs in the chorus, and I enjoy the song plenty. And finally, as for "Suffragette City," is there any Bowie song that would be more of a blast to do in karaoke? It's not just the great riffs, and not just the "WHAM! BAM! THANK YOU MA'AM!" after the false ending; there are just so many fun vocal moments in this song that I can't even try to count them. If "Starman" is the best of the softer songs on the album, then "Suffragette City" is definitely the best of the harder ones.

Again, the album is a long, long way from perfect, but there are so many nice aspects that a grade less than this seems absurd. Don't get it first - there's an unreasonable chance of disappointment, I think, and Bowie's made better albums - but get it relatively early.

Report this review (#291039)
Posted Sunday, July 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ziggy played guitar...

First I have to say that this album is no prog. It's pop-rock with some prog elements. But it's also a brilliant concept-album and one of the best albums ever.

The album tells the story of Ziggy Stardust, a rockstar who became famous in a world which should be destroyed in 5 years. Bowie shows us how Ziggy become a star and how he falls.

The music on this album is often typical pop-rock (for example the "text-refrain-text-refrain - structure" and the instrumentation). But there are also progy elements, listen to the beautiful violins on "5 Years" or the psychedelic outro on "Moonage Daydream".

But prog or not, all songs are beautiful and this album goes under your skin. You close your eyes and can feel every note inside of you. You feel with Ziggy. You are Ziggy. This is what an album makes a good album and because of this I just can give 5 stars. Prog or not, masterpiece is masterpiece.

Report this review (#294340)
Posted Friday, August 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars After showing his full spectrum of artistry on Hunky Dory, David Bowie chose to concentrate on his rock & roll approach with the release of The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (aka Ziggy Stardust)!

Did this new approach limit his artistic scope? Yes, it certainly did. But at the same time Bowie's music became more targeted at a certain type of audience and won him over a brand new fan base that he most probably would have never achieved if he continued his broad artistic exploration, depicted on Hunky Dory. Even though I personally liked his previous release a bit better, there is really no denying that Ziggy Stardust is one amazing album that manages to assemble an important piece of music history all in a 39 minute package!

Pretty much every single one of these songs is a potential single and it really amazes me how Bowie managed to create such a wonderful collection of tracks. Even the b-sides, featured on my version of the CD, like John, I'm Only Dancing and Velvet Goldmine could have easily made a great addition to the album. I'm especially happy about the relatively lengthy opener Five Years, which sets a perfect mood and setting for the rest of the record, and the hauntingly poetic Rock 'n' Roll Suicide which concludes the release on another high note.

I certainly have a soft spot for this album and, together with the movie The Man Who Fell To Earth that I saw around the same time, it made a huge impact on my fragile teenage mind. That's why it's difficult for me to separate the album from my nostalgia and give it an unbiased review based on the actual music. The only thing that I can add in my defense is that I don't consider the two obvious followup releases to be worthy successors to this masterpiece!

***** star songs: Five Years (4:43) Starman (4:13) Lady Stardust (3:21) Star (2:47) Ziggy Stardust (3:14) Rock 'n' Roll Suicide (2:59)

**** star songs: Soul Love (3:34) Moonage Daydream (4:40) It Ain't Easy (2:57) Hang On To Yourself (2:39) Suffragette City (3:25)

Report this review (#306763)
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was Bowie's first concept album. It's an extraordinary one indeed, telling us of the trials and tribulations that an extraterrestrial rock star has to go through. "Ziggy Stardust" stood out among other rock releases at the time, with its fresh, bizarre imagery and changed the face of music.

The beautiful angst of "Five Years" starts it all off. "Soul Love" and "Moonage Daydream" are probably the first and only alien rock songs, whilst the whimsy "Starman" wonderfully expresses how humans wouldn't be able to accept a spiritual alien into their society.

There are some astonishing melodies and moods here, which are often unusually "Beatle- esque". Yet again, Mick Ronson's guitar style lends itself beautifully to the material, adding gritty attitude into "Suffragette City" and "Hang On To yourself". For the concept, this worked perfectly as a showcase for the gradual rise of Ziggy's glam career.

The overall sound is punchy, clean and in your face. The almost omni-present strings, acoustic rhythm guitar and piano also add some brilliant textures throughout. The final farewell to Ziggy concludes in the aptly titled "Rock N'Roll Suicide" which ends it all with quite a bang.

There's certainly noone who's just taken rock 'n roll and run with it the way David Bowie did. I don't Believe there was a rock messiah before Ziggy Stardust and dare I say, there never will be again. This is a classic. It's one of the most inventive, surreal rock albums of all time without a doubt!

Report this review (#434812)
Posted Sunday, April 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

David Bowie was a musician that adapted all popular styles of the moment during his career and during his early seventies period this led to some progressive rock related releases. On Ziggy Stardust he had a sound that could be described as a hybrid of advanced pop, art-rock and light psychedelic rock. His vocals are slightly psychedelic, or just 'strange', at times. As a front-man Bowie portraits himself as a daring artist that perhaps didn't invent new kinds of music, but he did a great job on moving the borders of the pop-music of the day.

On this album the musicianship is very professional and the recording is quite brilliant for it's years of release. You won't hear me cheering to much when I'm listening to a polished recording like this one, but I can imagine it must have been quite a thrill at the time (just as it was with Dark Side of the Moon).

The main reason this album is attractive for many people (besides the great sound) is perhaps the song-writing. Though I wasn't convinced at first spin, I must admit I really got to like some of the songs on this album. Five Years is a great opening track with a daring string section that is harmonically challenging for pop music. Soul Love has it's own catchy ways, but Starman is really a great track that deserves recognition. On side two there are many other good songs, but Rock'n Roll suicide stands out as the most powerful song.

Conclusion. This is a very professional sounding slight psychedelic pop album with some great string arrangements and daring vocals by David Bowie. Though not extremely interesting from a progressive point of view, it does feature some interesting traits that will make listeners of progressive rock feel like they are treated properly. Three well deserves stars. Recommended for fans of art rock, light psychedelic rock and those who want to know their rock-history.

Report this review (#446169)
Posted Thursday, May 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rating: 10/10

After the incredible "Hunky dory", another masterpiece and a musical festival that Bowie had never released before so far, and would never after either.

"Hang on to yourself", "Star" and "Suffragette city" are three astonishing pulsating semi- punk/rock pieces: great songwriting skills through accurate rhythm structures -here relays one of the most attractive sides of the album-.

Bowie creates an alter-ego character actually able to perform a prolific, diverse rock/pop.

So, it wouldn't be wrong at all to say that this is a parallel concept to Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's lonely hearts club band" by conceptual and artistic terms.

By itself "Ziggy Stardust" -the song- proposes a new model of development: starting with a melodic structure going to powerful but still delicate breakdowns (anybody said "power ballad"?...).

While "Moonage daydream", "Soul love" and "Starman" move into a soul mood in pop/rock key with shinning string arrangements, "Lady Stardust" and "Rock 'N Roll suicide" are incredible ballads very deep and emotive -a mention also to the opening track "Five years" which adds anguish and a hollowed sensation to the classical ballad-.

"It ain't easy" is perhaps the hardest one to classify: halfway between a creative white soul/R&B featuring the most inspired chorus and a twisted but catchy pop tune.

With "The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars", David Bowie places himself as one of the most personal, inventive, avant-garde and therefor influential artists of his time.

Report this review (#459199)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Guess you had to be there

Ziggy is one of those quintessential 70s canon albums frequently given masterpiece status by many critics and websites. Those who stumble into it decades later without benefit of personal attachment may find a surprisingly ordinary rock album which breaks no discernable ground. Like myriad other 70s rock artists the influence of the venerable 60s Gods is undeniable and in terms of excitement or timelessness, there is nothing here that wasn't done better and earlier by the Beatles, Stones, or The Who. The cutesy concept and the flair of Bowie probably helps lend the title legendary status but it means little to me. After hearing the power and artistry of things like Plastic Ono Band, Live at Leeds, or Zeppelin 4 it's really hard to get excited by songs which sound like any other singles of classic rock radio by Argent, Mott the Hoople, ELO, Elton, or Badfinger. Traditional song structures and instruments embellished with strings, piano, and Bowie theatrical stylings. Understand the caveat is aimed more at the expectations of new listeners whom are no doubt buying this 'legend' in our time and uttering WTF? If you go into the Ziggy album without those mile-high expectations, you will find a decent 70s pop/rock album with some catchy melodies and decent singalong potential. The remaster sounds great with lots of punch, tight musicianship, and a sense that the band was well oiled, in fact these tracks are likely much more convincing live. For an album that supposedly broke boundaries it all feels a bit plain for 1972, by which time there were a million things more interesting than this. Apologies in advance to Bowie fans who revere this. I do think it's 'good' and enjoyable, I just can't call it a masterpiece compared to all the things I've heard.

Report this review (#459450)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Perhaps not Bowie's most progressive work - though obviously the theatrical nature of the Ziggy Stardust concept and the unique plot should make the album of interest to prog fans with an appreciation for classic rock (and Rick Wakeman was offered the keyboard player's stool but passed it up to join Yes!) - this bittersweet celebration of the redemptive power of rock and roll and the destructive power of fame gave David Bowie the widespread success that, after so much effort, he surely deserved.

A lot of the numbers on here hark back to earlier rock and roll genres, but each time they are given Bowie's own unique twist - showing delicacy and fragility where such songs would typically have oozed bravado and machismo. For a brief, spellbinding time the album takes us into a world where everything is about the present, the thought where we'll be five years from now seems impossible to contemplate, and glory is just a guitar chord away, and part of why it's so impressive is how it manages to evoke such a complex range of emotions without necessarily resorting to technical complexity. Bowie would produce more explicitly progressive works later in his career, but since we're in prog-related that's not necessarily the right criteria to judge it on. As far as the related (and, indeed, overlapping) genre of *theatrical* rock goes, this is a masterpiece.

Report this review (#496653)
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
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?

Report this review (#518308)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo like some cat in Japan."

The iconic persona of Bowie, that was transmogrified into a glam queen androgynous guitar god, was exemplified on "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars." Everytime I think of this album it takes me back to the vinyl years and I remember sitting down and letting the music flow over me as a teen. Every song made me rethink music and I was listening to the likes of Kiss, The Sweet and Suzi Quatro in the 70s. David Bowie was one out of the box though. His red hair and lightning bolt makeup was irresistible and captured my imagination. His visage was pasted on every magazine looking weird and alien and it was the image of the 70s. This album cemented Bowie as a rock legend and he never looked back.

The songs are loud and abrasive and Bowie rocks out like no other album he produced before this. It was a real starting point to his rise to meteoric fame after the immortal 'Space Oddity'. It begins with the weird 'Five Years' that is too long but has plenty of rock to drive it on; "we've got five years, my brain hurts a lot..." The next stand out is the wonderful melodic 'Moonage Daydream' with an unforgettable hook; "Keep your 'lectric eye on me babe, Put your ray gun to my head, Press your space face close to mine, love, Freak out in a moonage daydream!"

'Starman' is fantastic space nonsense, harking back to the spacey thematic content of earlier Bowie. His film "The Man Who Fell to Earth" is certainly influenced from such whimsical concepts of the lonely alien "there's a starman waiting in the sky, he'd like to come and meet us but he thinks he'd blow our minds."

'Lady Stardust' is a nice acoustic space ballad, similar to T-Rex. The best song on the album is 'Ziggy Stardust' with the awesome riff and glam poetry, "making love with his ego Ziggy sucked up into his mind, like a leper Messiah, when the kids had killed the man I had to break up the band."

There are 2 more songs worth mentioning to end the album; the raucous 'Suffragette City' "don't lean on me man cos you can't afford the ticket", and 'Rock 'n' Roll Suicide' "all the knives seem to lacerate your brain". The album was edgy and crass and nasty and teens loved it. Parents hated it. And I loved it too.

Report this review (#615512)
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Equally happy and surprised to see David Bowie here on Prog Archives. This is an all-time great album, period. There are no low points whatsoever throughout this album. From the opening of Five Years, the mood is set and it never disappoints you. I've always loved Mick Ronson's guitar work on this album and the best example of that is on Moonage Daydream. The ending guitar lead is simply perfect, could not have been done better in the context of the song by anyone else. One thing I really enjoy about this album is that not only do the songs sound great played in sequence, but each stand on their own when listend to separately. Outstanding album, can't recommend it enough.
Report this review (#792421)
Posted Sunday, July 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
3 stars This album has always left a bad taste in my mouth. Listening through it again today, I can't help but feel a little cheated. The album's best known numbers, "Suffragette City" and "Ziggy Stardust", are two of Bowie's finest songs from his early career, and if the remaining songs showed even half the energy these two songs do, this would be a much better album. As it is, for the remainder of the album we have the proto-Ramones rocker "Hang on to Yourself" (yay) and a bunch of power ballads (boo).

I can't even really see what's so "glam" about this album (it's usually referred to as a quintessential glam album), apart from Bowie's makeup. Mick Ronson kicks up some dust with his guitar riffing on "Moonage Daydream" and maybe "It Ain't Easy", but elsewhere it's just a bunch of slow melodrama, and not the catchy decadent fun usually associated with glam. Take the opener "Five Years". An unremarkable repeated chord progression, with nasally vocals (which sound almost out of tune to me; maybe that's why it bugs me) ostensibly building tension, but really just getting a little louder as the song reaches its "climax". This is unfortunately typical of most of the album.

The compressed sound of the backing band on most of the cuts also renders the tunes lifeless and not nearly as vital as most fans would have you believe. If you want some good glam rock, go check out T. Rex or Alice Cooper. If you want some good Bowie from this period in his career, try his next album "Aladdin Sane" instead. It feels a lot more natural and has better songs, to my ears. This one just kinda stiffs for me. Two stars, but the presence of the trio "Hang on to Yourself", "Ziggy Stardust" and "Suffragette City" generously raises it to a three.

Report this review (#857537)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I know David Bowie was introduced to the progarchives mainly because of this album. I don't think The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars has real progressive music, but the whole concept of the album, and the repercussions it had in the world of glam rock are unquestionable. The album is indeed a basic to any collection of music, not only progressive, but general. David Bowie is one of those musicians who needs to be heard album after album to see and understand completely why he is in this page. Every single song is different, every single album is entirely different from the other. The Rise and Fall (...) is consistent and coherent. I would say that my favorite track is the very first one "Five Years", which goes little by little rising and rising, and once it reaches a peak, it will never fall throughout the entire album. A really good album and a classic to possess!
Report this review (#1009477)
Posted Thursday, August 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ok. This is the one I've been leading up to for a while. Mainly because I have a slightly weird history with this album.

So here we are. Bowie's so called magnum opus. Or...his most successful album. Yes, it must be said, that the only reason this album did so well was because it came out at a time where it could have easily gained popularity.

Even though this may not be my favourite Bowie album, I do respect what Bowie did with this album, and there is a slight touch of genius behind the marketing techniques. Creating a character under the name of Ziggy Stardust, this allowed Bowie to basically become the pop star he has always wanted to become.

This album is usually considered to be a concept album, but lyrically I find it really hard to see any real concept on the album. There is a vague story throughout, but usually with Bowie's lyrics, it is very hard to really understand what he is trying to portray, which usually always bodes well in his favour, but because a concept is present, it makes it very hard to understand. Luckily enough Bowie made most of these songs incredibly catchy, so a concept wasn't really that important.

Musically, this would be Bowie's safest album. The hard rock sound found on "The Man Who Sold The World" is present, but with a little bit more campness and flamboyance. One of my all time favourite albums would have to be Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." At times, I do think these albums could easily be brother and sister, especially if you listen very close to how the piano is used in these songs.

The opening track "Five Years" is probably one of the most interesting moments on the album. A rather dark moment for Bowie, it really is a song that builds up to a massive explosion at the end. Brilliantly arranged and definitely one of Bowie's best album openers. The album closer "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" has a similar vain and almost brings the albums very vague 'concept' to an end.

The album itself created a lot of successful hits for Bowie, which even today get a considerable amount of radio play, and are considered all time classics. Songs like "Starman", "Ziggy Stardust" and "Suffragette City." I can't really deny the brilliance behind these songs and they are classics in there own right. If you have never heard these songs, then you probably have no taste in music, that's all I'm gonna say.

Another of the album's two biggest achievements has to be the tracks "Moonage Daydream" and "Lady Stardust". Definitely two of the best songs on the album and two of the biggest highlights from the whole glam rock era.

The rest of the songs to me are probably what brings the album down so much. Songs like "Star" and "Hang On To Yourself" I think are the weakest moments on the album, and would never really be in the mood to listen to them. Pretty much filler in my opinion.

In conclusion, this isn't my favourite Bowie album and I do think this was one of Bowie's least creative moments throughout his career. I do admire his songwriting on the album and how he was able to craft some brilliant pop/rock songs. There are some genuine classics on this album, but as an album, it really isn't one of Bowie's best. His most successful, but in my opinion, by far his best..

...still a great album though.


Report this review (#1009750)
Posted Friday, August 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm really not a fan of David Bowie, or the glam rock scene in generally, but the "Ziggy Stardust" album is a huge exception. It would probably reach my all-time top 10, because every track is so perfect in what was required for it to do. The album has a very live and on-its-feet feel, apparently due to the fact that no more than 3 or 4 takes were taken, making it very energetic and happening. Quite a lot of progressive elements here and there (time signatures, chord progressions, and effects), keeping a progressive fan like myself interested in the song, whilst also managing to appeal to a pop generation more focused on the wonderful lyrics and stage presence of David Bowie (and the Spiders From Mars). All of the musicians on here have such a great chemistry and tone in their instruments (the 2 Mick's and the recently-departed Trevor Bolder), and I should also commend Tony Visconti's fantastic recording in this - so important to the lively feel I mentioned. Anyway, on with the review!

"Five Years" is very apocalyptically themed for a pop song - like a more widely accessible "Crime Of The Century". David's lyrics and vocal delivery are just tremendous, and build to an increasing crescendo towards the end of how much he realises he will miss, and how closely the time is drawing near. A very good format and chord progressions that aren't too adventurous as to take over the vocals, with a great technique of end as it starting; with Woodmansey's drums leading you into the next track "Soul Love". Again, very empathetic singing by himself, and ever-building emotional climaxes. Teamed with an odd time signature throughout the verses, and a beautiful inclusion of the sax solo, produces a very fresh song essential to the album.

"Moonage Daydream" shows the other more primal and sexual side to David's voice, as with Mick Ronson's basic yet very effective guitar solos, and smoothly distorted tone. The melodies and saxophone solos are extremely catchy. Brilliant effects used throughout, and a brilliant overall feel which is quite unlike anything else really. Very well structured, and a nice introduction of the sci-fi theme to lead into the next track. The classic Bowie hit "Starman" then enters to contrast the rawness of the previous piece, with some delicious chords to open it and interesting progressions too. Teamed with some fantastic melodies, and a likewise phased piano sound, creates another fabulous track. Already incredibly consistent.

"It Ain't Easy" is a much slower tempo, with great guitars that produce an excellent timbre with Bowie's vocals. Although more of a rock track, includes some gospel singers to head the music into a brighter direction, with some quite religious/philosophical lyrics too. The chord changes fit these lyrics extremely well, and another great addition. "Lady Stardust" is again a relatively laid-back piece with very flowing and meaningful lyrics. The chords are, like most of the album, pretty basic but occasionally break out into more audacious territory, but doing so in a very subtle manner. Great double-tracking for the vocals, and some powerful melodies - it all comes together excellently once again for the band!

"Star" is much more up-tempo and very well sequenced in the album, with great pounding pianos and occasional outbursting guitar chords all complementing each other excellently. The lyrics and vocal delivery are still so outstanding, plus some new harmonies added into the mix, giving it a new flavour. Great resolves throughout to let you down for just long enough, and another exceptional track to a flawless album. "Hang On To Yourself" then follows, probably one of my favourite Bowie songs altogether. I love the feel he conveys throughout the guitar strums, the drums, and the almost meaningless lyrics, that all sounds so marvellous as one. Also quite catchy, and very fun to play along to on the guitar! Another highlight to the album for me.

"Ziggy Stardust", the title track, comes in too close to the end for me. It being the 3rd to last track and introduces the main character is a bit odd in my opinion. The album is very short in length so they could have added another could of songs between this and the next. But I distress, another great track with quite exciting chord progressions and techniques employed consistently throughout. The lyrics are definite and descriptive whilst I think that Bowie's delivery could have been a little stronger. Still, the band works very well together and obviously essential to the album. "Suffragette City", then, is my absolute favourite song on the album and in Bowie's repertoire altogether. Everything is sublime - the chord progressions, the harmonies, the story, lyrics, and sexuality every rock song should have behind. Extremely bold and rocks along at a steady pace without going off on a tangent, or even slowing down as you race towards the city. Undeniably an astounding work of art by any means and a great high-octane way to enter the acoustic, essentially-suicidal closer.

"Rock N' Roll Suicide" fits beautifully on the album, and a great contrast to the previous fastest track on the album. It tells the story of the Ziggy Stardust character becoming so adored and famous that he ends up being devoured of his essence by his fans. In a sense, quite true to David's world but the fame of this album affected him much more mentally than physically, as he became schizophrenic with the explicit Ziggy character. The song anyway is one of the best closing songs I can think of. The classic trick of bringing down the album towards the end is used to great effect, unlike many which just leave you low-down but not really emotionally changed. The lyrics and overall delivery is so powerful, and the guitar, which builds into a collection of various stringed instruments, outlines the magnificent chord progressions so unbelievably compelling and makes you feel surreal amounts of empathy for a fictional concept. The album might not be entirely progressive, but it's all there and David Bowie's finest half-hour for me by a long shot.

A+: A landmark of 70s music and culture and a timeless masterpiece.

Five Years: ***** Soul Love: ***** Moonage Daydream: ***** Starman: ***** It Ain't Easy: ***** Lady Stardust: ***** Star: ***** Hang On To Yourself: ***** Ziggy Stardust: ***** Suffragette City: ***** Rock N' Roll Suicide: *****

Report this review (#1016966)
Posted Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars |D| Should have been left behind in the early 70s.

It doesn't take too long listening through this album that this was definitely an album made in the early seventies, definitely one made with an overtly "edgy" experimental sort of quality to it, and most of all, one that hasn't aged well in the slightest. To be fair, many aspects of the music sound like a legitimate attempt at making something creative. However, as a guy in his early twenties and one of the proud bearers of the prog-rock fan-base torch looking for some timeless music, there are far too many parts that have a stench of dated 70s stoner-ish super- lame later hippy era dribble that can be found in much of the music on the charts at the time. This was further confirmed after asking some people who were around during that time about the album. As much as I appreciate the occasional use orchestral and jazz instruments, the sometimes-nice arrangement of parts is so often covered up by the jarring and jagged rock composition around it that it looses its charm, at least for me. One of the other main problems that I have about the album is the sense of complete whimsical thoughtlessness that the music often conveys, as if the composer did not take his art seriously in the slightest, or evidently anything else for that matter. What we have here is nothing more than a direct manifestation of the "social liberation" "cutting-edge" "anti-establishment" ideology of the times, which today conjures images of those old washed-up hippy types with whom we southern Californians are all too familiar. This is an album that already hasn't stood the test of time, and likely no one will have even heard of it with the passing of the next few generations, save as a historical music footnote, not unlike the more superficial operas from the early-mid 19th century. I'll give an extra star for Bowie's attempt at breaking out of the mold of one- dimensional pop music, but that's hardly enough to consider it an album for the ages, as is the opinion of this young person.

Report this review (#1031510)
Posted Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars There are some serious pitfalls waiting for a reviewer expressing opinions on an album like Ziggy Stardust. First, it frequently makes its way onto those "100 Best Rock Albums of All Time" lists, so what the heck can I say that hasn't already been said? Secondly... David Bowie's recent passing makes most readers view this album with rose-colored glasses. So first a bit of background...

My introduction to Bowie was his performance as Jareth, the Goblin King in a fantasy film that is perennially popular with people of my generation. In that film, he's more memorable for his one-liners and epic tights. This makes me predisposed to enjoy him as a persona, but other than the handful of musical numbers he performs in the movie, I'm ignorant of his real skills as a musician. If you're like me - this review is mostly for you.

So what can a newcomer expect with Ziggy? Is it really as good as every one says it is? Probably. Like all music it'll hit some harder than others, but it would be silly to deny that this album is a genuine pleasure to listen to; it's well- crafted, soulfully performed, and filled with interesting songs that shimmer with the slinky vibe of the era.

As a semi-concept album, Bowie's lyrics and storytelling are entertaining, playful, and filled with double-meaning to discover. His voice is passionate, distinct, and uniquely masculine. If you lean towards the approachable side of prog- rock, the strong delivery and choruses of Bowie found throughout this album are first rate.

The songs themselves are highly varied and quite lush. String arrangements abound, and even the "simple" tunes have instrumental gems sprinkled throughout to enjoy. Ronson's guitar is understated, though his soloing is great, and Bolder's smooth bass lines help give the album a lot of that vintage '70's class. There are upbeat rockers, folksy ballads, bluesy throwbacks, sing-alongs that seem to be pulled from a stage musical... all thrown into a playful vaudevillian mix.

The final experience is a real delight. Is it one of the best rock albums of all time? Maybe. It's a product of its time, in the literal and figurative sense in that it represents a phase of Bowie's career. As a prog album it's light in content, but as a piece of music and entertainment it's a first rate addition to any rock fans library.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#1511187)
Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars It was the 6th of June 1972 when a record appeared in the record shops with the strange title: 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars', having a weird looking blond guy in the cover wearing blue tights and holding a guitar. The guy on the cover was David Bowie, and this record was his masterpiece! . It can be characterized as a concept album in a way, having as main theme the story of Ziggy, an alien Rock star who came to Earth trying to give hope to humans and save the planet, which was to be destroyed in 5 years. Ziggy was an a-sexual persona, addicted to heavy drugs, singing about peace and love (don't forget that the 60's were not that far), to the people of the Earth. In the end he was destroyed both by drugs and his fans. David Bowie actually "adopted" Ziggy's character, appearing in his shows wearing short skirts, changing costumes and dresses all the time, having his hair painted red etc... But further than all the marketing strategies, Ziggy Stardust is a true musical diamond, containing songs like Five Years, Starman, Ziggy Stardust and Rock n' Roll suicide, just to name a few. Upon its release it peaked at No. 5 in the UK album charts, having Starman as its first single. Ziggy Stardust returned to the UK album charts in 1981, peaked at No. 33 and remained in the charts for 62 weeks. I remember buying the vinyl version of Ziggy when I was a teenager, which I still have of course, but then a special CD edition followed, many years later. I grew up with this album, that's why I can't be objective. For me it is a masterpiece, and that's why I will rate it with 5 stars. In my opinion this is an album that every Rock fan must have in his/her collection. Period! 5 Stars!
Report this review (#1597951)
Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rock'n'Roll Classic.

One of the most classic rock albums ever, this is a solid and original contribution in the Bowie catalogue. It is not quite as innovative or progressive as his previous album ('Hunky Dory'), which is my favourite Bowie album, but it is still great, with lots of iconic and musical songs. There is not a bad song on this album either. Everyone will have their own favourites on this album. My own are the first three ("Five Years", "Soul Love", and "Moonage Daydream"), which I think are incredibly musical, while "Hang on to Yourself" and "Suffragette City" are classic rock'n'roll songs. The album is a concept album, and does well as such, closing on the excellent "Rock'n'roll Suicide", which now 45 years later seems prescient (not for Bowie himself, but for 'rock'n'roll' in general, but then again "the future is a past that hasn't happened yet" we will see). Definitely essential in terms of the history of rock, and of Bowie, I give this album 8.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just 0.1 shy of PA 5 Stars (representing "masterpiece of progressive rock" status). It is great, but not quite a musical masterpiece on the same level as 'Hunky Dory' or other 5-star albums. But very close.

Report this review (#1698166)
Posted Friday, March 3, 2017 | Review Permalink

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