David Bowie
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust...


5.0
classic

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
July 29th, 2011 | 86 replies | 7,459 views


Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ziggy played guitar…

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars was the album responsible for turning David Bowie into a superstar. Informed by the likes of Lou Reed, Marc Bolan, Iggy Pop and Andy Warhol, David Bowie understood the potential he could achieve by melding his artistic vision into the musical setting of the burgeoning glam rock scene. Masterfully grabbing the zeitgeist with his pale, slender hands, Bowie transformed himself into the androgynous alien rock star the world would soon come to know as Ziggy Stardust.

The whole ‘Ziggy Stardust’ concept is a strike of artistic genius. Bowie realised that glam was out to push the boundaries of rock music in every way possible - the flamboyant fashion, showy theatricality, and breaking away from rocks traditions seemed perfectly tailored to the sensibilities of his personality. And so Ziggy was born, and in the process, glam, rock ‘n’ roll, and popular music in general were taken to another level - the ambiguous sexuality, outlandishly ornate fashion and makeup, the grand theatricality of Bowie’s live shows, and perhaps most prominently, the sheer creativity surrounding such an iconic concept changed the way consumers approached the whole notion of rock music.

A loose concept that falls apart as quickly as it begins, the 11 tracks on Ziggy Stardust are vaguely connected by common themes of rock ‘n’ roll stardom, fame and celebrity. But what makes them so compelling and, for all the extraterrestrial connotations, surprisingly functional, is how warm and human these cinematic tales are. It works because the ‘alien’ narrative is a deeply analogical concept in itself. The theme of the desolate alien is a clear parallel of the lonely outsider; of the odd-balls and outcasts that live on every street. It helped cement the notion that Bowie was a champion of the misunderstood; the dejected; the different. It’s these emotions and sentiments bubbling beneath the evocate surface that makes the lyrics so relatable - even though they are spliced with a science-fictional breeze of melodrama and apocalyptic dread they still feel so intrinsically human and natural.

Musically, the disc is a virtually flawless example of radio-friendly glam rock. Underpinned by sweeping orchestral scores; the glitzy rock chords and rhythm section are fleshed out with strings, horns and piano, resulting in a ‘fuller’ and more grandiose sound than present on any previous Bowie record.

The set is extremely consistent; kicking off with the gorgeous ‘Five Years’, which starts with a simple drum beat and sullen piano melody, before progressing into a sweeping epic, marked by lush string sections and a superb building vocal. The pop catchiness of ‘Starman’, the heart-warming ‘Lady Stardust’, and the album ender to end all album enders, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide’, furthers the melodrama and flamboyant theatricality hinted at from the opener.

The album isn’t short of rockers either. The magnificent ending solo of ‘Moonage Daydream’, the upbeat, pure-glam of ‘Hang Onto Yourself’, the classic “Wham-bam thank you, mam!” hook present in the relentless ‘Suffragette City’, and of course, the iconic riff driving the title track, complement the softer moments and help to create a superbly balanced and consistent track-list.

There may have been technically better Bowie records; albums that were more compositionally groundbreaking, but crucially, none had the sheer cultural impact The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars enjoyed. The album catapulted Bowie into the big time, and rightly so - it’s a fascinating concept executed to an enduringly accomplished standard. It witnessed the birth of the most famous incarnation of David Bowie and ensued his icon status - an accolade still standing proud and proving its influence almost 40 years on. Quite simply, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars is one of the most important and essential rock albums ever made.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
omnipanzer
July 29th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Firsht

Digging: The Ettes - Shake the Dust

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

You came in fast, omnipanzer.



clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



6438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

THERE'S A STARMAAAAAAN, WAITING IN THE SKY
HE'D LIKE TO COME AND MEET US
BUT HE THINKS HE'D BLOW OUR MIIIIINDS!!!


Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Haha, that's a TUNE, clercqie.


clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



6438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Putting it on loud, right now ; )

omnipanzer
July 29th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The persona carried over to the stage act had a lot to do with it's impact as well. Another great review for another great album sir. Suffragette City is definitely one of my go to Bowie tracks when I need a pick-me-up.

omnipanzer
July 29th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I wish the charts were up so I could see what numbers 1 & 2 are for 1972.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

So true, man. It was the whole thing - the grand live shows, the outfits, the iconic makeup, and of course, the music. It all came together and made a massive impact. I love 'Suffragette City' too, one of the first Bowie tracks i heard, if i recall.

I know, i wonder what beat this album. Can't see how this could be topped.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



6438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm guessing Exile on Main Street and Led Zep IV : )

omnipanzer
July 29th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Zep IV 1971 ;^)

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Probably. I prefer this, if i'm honest.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



6438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Damn :/
Rate your music top 5:
- Ziggy
- Nick Drake - Pink Moon
- Yes - Close to the Edge
- Exile
- Neil Young - Harvest

My money's on Harvest and Exile

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Top 5 of all time?

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



6438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For 1972 ; )

http://rateyourmusic.com/customchart?page=1&chart_type=top&type=album&year=1972&genre_include=1&genres=&include=both&origin_countries=&limit=none&countries=

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Ah, i see. Yeah, it's probably the same albums but in a slightly different order on Sputnik charts.

omnipanzer
July 29th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Harvest is 9 with a 4.2
Exile is 8 with a 4.3
Thick as a Brick carries a 4.5 but isn't showing it's rank.
Pink Moon is 4 with a 4.5
Machine head is #7 with a 4.4
Eat a peach is 6 with a 4.4
Paul Simon 14 with 4.2
Got it... Close the the Edge is #2 with a 4.5
I'm going to say Thick as a Brick is 1 because I would want it to be...
If nothing else hear is a great list of albums to get assuming you don't have them. ;^)

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



6438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ziggy is 10 on all-time chart at rym : )

London Calling only 26 :/

Edit: Exile only 8 on Sputnik? Blasphemy!

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

omnipanzer - Yup. I've yet to check some of those out.


omnipanzer
July 29th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I was speaking in general for the young'ns. I'd assumed you had heard them.

fsharptrit0ne
July 29th 2011



4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Quality review as always Major Tom

Flawless album, songwriting I can only dream of achieving



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