Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

David Bowie Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1972)


Returning to a harder edged rock sound, this futuristic concept album about an androgynous alien rock star was the ultimate glam rock album, as well as an incisive critique of pop stardom.

It was also the album that broke Bowie big, at least in the U.K (it took him a bit longer to break through in the U.S.). After all, the glittery stage persona of the flaming haired Ziggy Stardust made for great rock n’ roll theater – remember the confusion caused when Bowie “retired” Ziggy? – and, more importantly, this album contains some truly great rock ‘n roll songs.

Included among those are the unforgettable riffs and strange yet catchy chorus of the title track, and the relentlessly surging rock drive and hilarious lyrics of “Suffragette City,” the album’s two most famous songs, at least in the U.S. where both still make the regular rounds on classic rock radio.

In addition, the hard rocking “Moonage Daydream” features some killer Mick Ronson guitar and otherworldly atmospherics, while the wide-eyed wonder of “Starman” (a U.K. top 10 hit) is a catchy, evocative, and dramatic space ballad a la “Life On Mars?”

Also notable are the lushly orchestrated chants of “Five Years,” which brilliantly harks towards Armageddon (and which bears a resemblance to the Moody Blues’ “Go Now”), the lovely, melancholic piano ballad “Lady Stardust” (the “lady” in question being glam friend/rival Marc Bolan; all together now: “he was alright…”), the slinky groover “Hang On To Yourself” (which always makes me wanna move), and “Rock n’ Roll Suicide,” the dramatic, theatrical finale which ends the album as perfectly as “Five Years” had started it.

Even the lesser tracks, such as “Soul Love,” with its overly accented soulful pop vocals, and the upbeat if comparatively generic rocker “Star,” are enjoyable if not quite as necessary, as is the Ron Davies cover “It Ain’t Easy;” I know that I always sing along to its big chorus in any event.

Sure, there are some dated elements to the album’s early ’70s sound, but Ronson’s razor-sharp guitar playing and Bowie’s passionate if reedy vocals ensure that this sci-fi extravaganza delivers a one-of-a-kind experience. Hell, even the evocative album cover is legendary, and all these years later Ziggy Stardust remains both Bowie’s most beloved and flat-out best creation.

Note: The overtly gay single “John I’m Only Dancing” (another big U.K. hit that wasn’t released in the U.S. until many years later due to its risqué lyrics) and “Velvet Goldmine” (later the title of a major motion picture about the good old glam days) are essential bonus tracks on the reissue.

Note #2: During this time Bowie also made major contributions to the careers of Lou Reed and Mott The Hoople, producing Transformer and All The Young Dudes, respectively. Bowie also wrote the classic “All The Young Dudes” for Mott.


May 28, 2013 - Posted by | David Bowie Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars |

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