Monday, February 12, 2024

David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars 1972

It is a classic. 

The record kicks off with Five Years, the news that the world only has that much time left, and the ensuing melee that the news brings. Bowie speaks/sings the lyrics at first, and the vocal dynamic increases as the song builds. Great opener. Soul Love follows, and is another solid winner with a Bowie sax solo and a hot lead guitar from Mick Ronson. "Love is careless in it's choosing" indeed. After two mid-tempo entries, Moonage Daydream comes rushing out of the speakers, with big guitars and more sax. Alien sex never sounded hotter. Starman presents a hopeful image of the future and a visit from an alien that "knows it's all worthwhile". And lest we forget, "let the children boogie". The solid rock of It Ain't Easy continues the lyrical quest for redemption, and is more big, solid rock. 

The big balled Lady Stardust kicks off side two, and is said to be about Marc Bolan (or maybe Bowie/Ziggy), and Bowie's vocal and the lyrics are striking. Star follows, making a case for becoming a rock'n'roll star, and maintains the overall theme of the record.The uber-glam of Hang On To Yourself is a fast, sexy groupie come-on that "moves like tigers on Vaseline". Then Ziggy Stardust plays as the hero's biography built on a great guitar riff, and compares Ziggy to any number of messiahs, only this one plays guitar left hand and "took it all too far". Suffragette City brings more great guitar riffs from Ronson, sexual lyrics that are both direct and vague, and rocks like crazy. It sounds like a precursor to Rebel Rebel, and contains similarly indefinite sexuality references. The record ends with the big arena ballad Rock'n'Roll Suicide, a fitting coda which places Ziggy in the company of dead rock stars of the day while using a Baudelaire metaphor of life as a cigarette.

It still holds up today. It is arguably one of Bowie's most consistently strong outings both writing and performance. It is the pinnacle of much great work from Mick Ronson. The record is of it's time, but it is also timeless. There probably wouldn't be a glam rock category without this record.

Five stars all the way. Along with Hunky Dory, Young Americans, Station To Station, Low, and Blackstar, it is among his best, and maybe even tops the list.

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