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David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album cover
4.27 | 798 ratings | 37 reviews | 55% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Five Years (4:43)
2. Soul Love (3:33)
3. Moonage Daydream (4:35)
4. Starman (4:02)
5. It Ain't Easy (Ron Davies) (2:56)
6. Lady Stardust (3:20)
7. Star (2:47)
8. Hang On to Yourself (2:37)
9. Ziggy Stardust (3:05)
10. Suffragette City (3:19)
11. Rock 'n' Roll Suicide (2:57)

Total Time 37:54

Bonus tracks on 1990 remaster:
12. John I'm Only Dancing (single B-side) (2:43)
13. Velvet Goldmine (single B-side) (3:09)
14. Sweet Head (previously unreleased track) (4:14)
15. Ziggy Stardust (previously unreleased original demo) (2:35)
16. Lady Stardust (previously unreleased original demo) (3:35)

Line-up / Musicians

- David Bowie / vocals, acoustic guitar, saxophone, piano (15,16), arrangements & co-producer

- Mick Ronson / electric guitar, piano, vocals, arrangements
- Trevor Bolder / bass, trumpet (?)
- Mick Woodmansey / drums
- Dana Gillespie / backing vocals (5)
- Rick Wakeman / harpsichord (5) - unconfirmed

Releases information

Artwork: Terry Pastor with Brian Ward (photo)

LP RCA Victor - SF 8287 (1972, UK)
LP RCA Victor - LSP-4702 (1972, US)

CD RCA - PD 84702 (1984, Europe)
CD RCA ‎R32P-1037 (1986, Japan)
CD EMI - CDEMC 3577 (1990, Europe) Remastered by Toby Mountain with 5 bonus tracks
CD Rykodisc - RCD 10134 (1990, US, Canada)
CD EMI/Virgin - 7243 521900 0 3 (1999, UK)
CD EMI - DBZS 40 (2012, Europe) Remastered by Ray Staff

Thanks to micky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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DAVID BOWIE The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars ratings distribution

(798 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(55%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (10%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

DAVID BOWIE The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ZowieZiggy

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?

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
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

Review by 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.

Review by 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.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Flucktrot
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.

Review by tarkus1980
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.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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)

Review by friso
4 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.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by thehallway
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?

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by HolyMoly
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.

Review by Isa
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.

Review by 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

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 381

'The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars', often shortened to 'Ziggy Stardust', is the fifth studio album of David Bowie and was released in 1972. It's a conceptual album based on a story of a fictional rock star named Ziggy Stardust. Ziggy is the human manifestation of an alien being who is attempting to present humanity with a message of hope in the last five years of the existence of Earth. Ziggy represents the life of a great rock star with the excessive use of drugs and sex, and where in the end he was able of destroy the message due to his own excesses.

'Ziggy Stradust' has eleven tracks. All songs were written and composed by Bowie, except 'It Ain't Easy' written by Ron Davies. The first track 'Five Years' tells of an Earth doomed to destruction in five years in the aftermath of this knowledge. It's a song that begins with a very simple musical idea but that slowly and gradually changes due to a fantastic and an emotional crescendo. This is a fantastic song, very well orchestrated, and that represents an incredible opening number. The second track 'Soul Love' isn't one of the highlights of the album, but definitely is a great song. It's a very good glam rock song, where the guitar and the saxophone play wonderfully and where we can hear the great and powerful voice of Bowie. This version was also released as the B side of the live single 'Blackout', released in 1978. The third track 'Moonage Daydream' is the song that depicts Ziggy's transformation. Lyrically, it describes the creation of is own person from a combination of religion, romance, sex, rebellion and passion, and subsequently he metamorphoses into the rock star. Musically, is an excellent pure hard rock song with some symphonic musical arrangements. It's truly a classic rock song, the heaviest song on the album. The fourth track 'Starman' is the song chosen to be released as the first single of the album. The lyrics describe Ziggy bringing a message of hope and salvation to Earth, through the radio by an alien, Starman. Musically is a song in a gentle pop rock vein, featuring great and beautiful acoustic guitar work and string arrangements by Mick Ronson. This is one of the highlights of the album. The fifth track 'It Ain't Easy' is a cover of a song of Ron Davies. It sounds to the southern country American rock and because of that, in my opinion, it seems to be a song a little bit out of the place. This is my less favourite song and probably the only weak song on the album. The sixth track 'Lady Stardust' is in generally interpreted as alluding to glam rock icon Marc Bolan, the front man of the rock group T. Rex, an artist very appreciated by Bowie. It's a very nice acoustic space ballad, mainly performed by piano and acoustic guitar. This is a song that reminds me very strongly the piano acoustic ballads of Elton John. The seventh track 'Star' is a short song and one of the greatest songs on the album. Lyrically it's the song that begins Ziggy journey as a Rock'n'Roll star. It's a truly glam art rock song which proves that a short song can be a great song. This is the prototype of a perfect rock song. The eighth track 'Hang On To Yourself' is another good and wonderful song of the album, portraying the Spiders from Mars comforting Ziggy. This is a song quite representative of glam rock's influence as a bridge between rock and punk. It's a catchy and wonderful song, as everything on the album is, but a little bit dark. The ninth track 'Ziggy Stardust' was inspired by the legendary Stardust Cowboy. It's a very sad song that shows the decline of the alien rock star. This is the most famous song of the album and probably its best song too. It's an extraordinary iconic song with immortal lyrics, where Bowie's vocals seduce us as never, and Ronson plays as if it was his last time. The tenth track 'Suffragette City' is the song chosen to be released as the third single of the album. It's a fantastic hard rock song that describes Ziggy's paranoia. This is one of the most energetic Bowie's rock songs that feature a very heavy piano riff. It's a kind of a semi-punk/rock music that reminds me Roxy Music. The eleventh track 'Rock'n'Roll Suicide' is the second song from this album to be released as the second single of it. Lyrically it detailed Ziggy's final collapse as an old Rock'n'Roll star. Musically this is a superb song. It's a song at the same time beautiful, dramatic, emotive, passionate and dark. This is one of the best and one of my favourite songs too. It represents a dramatic and a perfect way to close this special and unique album.

Conclusion: 'The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars' is a very special album and one of the best and most representative albums of the glam art rock from the 70's. It became also a landmark and one of the most known and important rock albums ever made. So, 'Ziggy Stardust' became with other albums like 'Roxy Music' and 'For Your Pleasure' from Roxy Music, as one of the albums that most contributed to influence the punk movement and the new wave. Despite 'Ziggy Stradust' being not a truly progressive album, it would be a perfect tragedy not has it in your personal collection, because it's absolutely essential for any classic rock fan. In reality, we are in presence of a brilliant conceptual album that became as one of the greatest musical influences even in the progressive rock music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars I agree with the reviewers who say this is not his best work, and it's not even progressive really. Out of all the Bowie albums this one gets the greatest number of ratings and I think the highest score too, but there's a reason why Bowie is considered prog RELATED. The songs are mostly top 40 o ... (read more)

Report this review (#2946185) | Posted by gbjones | Friday, August 18, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another influential and landmark album after "The man who sold the world". At artistic and creative peak, we have a blend of various styles, instruments and approaches as opposed to more conventional Hunky Dory. Missing are epic compositions from the previous albums. "Five years" is not yet a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2311871) | Posted by sgtpepper | Sunday, February 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 4.5 Is the fifth studio album of David Bowie in collaboration with his backing band th spiders from mars. The concept of the album is based in a bisexual rockstar that acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings. Its name is Ziggy Stardust and it is influenced by the Glam rock culture and explor ... (read more)

Report this review (#2117338) | Posted by mariorockprog | Friday, January 11, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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 mus ... (read more)

Report this review (#1698166) | Posted by Walkscore | Friday, March 3, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Review #32. 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 Bo ... (read more)

Report this review (#1597951) | Posted by The Jester | Tuesday, August 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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 du ... (read more)

Report this review (#1016966) | Posted by Xonty | Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1009750) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Friday, August 2, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 unquestiona ... (read more)

Report this review (#1009477) | Posted by Memo_anathemo | Thursday, August 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#792421) | Posted by RustedAxle | Sunday, July 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 songwriti ... (read more)

Report this review (#459199) | Posted by Mattiias | Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 musi ... (read more)

Report this review (#434812) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Sunday, April 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 destroye ... (read more)

Report this review (#294340) | Posted by Elveeye | Friday, August 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 exis ... (read more)

Report this review (#285610) | Posted by Alitare | Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 Bowi ... (read more)

Report this review (#285058) | Posted by Laurelles | Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#283110) | Posted by FarBeyondProg | Saturday, May 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ne ... (read more)

Report this review (#275610) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 p ... (read more)

Report this review (#196693) | Posted by saalfeld | Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 w ... (read more)

Report this review (#178128) | Posted by ziggystardust360 | Thursday, July 24, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 s ... (read more)

Report this review (#174937) | Posted by burtonrulez | Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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