Posted in Album Reviews

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

Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie (2012-10-21)

Five Years is an important theme in the early part of David Bowie’s career.  It’s the name of his first boxset that covers 1969-1973 and also the name of a 2013 documentary that covers those years.  It’s also the first track on his classic album from 1972 where he unveils his Ziggy Stardust character entitled The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.  “Five Years” is the first track with mostly just the spare drum of Mick Woodsmansey, piano stabs, and the occasional bass notes from Trevor Bolder.  The song builds into a crescendo and release as Bowie sings about those being the last five years for Earth to exist.

“Moonage Daydream” is a glam rock stomper with the opening line, “I’m an alligator/I’m a mama-papa coming for you”. The guitar of Mick Ronson goes into the stratosphere while the track gains a whole new generation of fans when included in the Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack. The cover of Ron Davies’ “It Ain’t Easy” is mostly remembered for its powerful chorus and the sped-up guitar lines of “Hang On To Yourself” points the way to punk rock that would come a few years later.

The album co-produced with Ken Scott includes three iconic Bowie songs, the first being “Ziggy Stardust”.  The famous guitar riff leads into describing the rock star that “took it all too far but boy could he play guitar” as he falls out with his other bandmates.  Not to be outdone, a second classic guitar riff appears on “Suffragette City”, a song that is still a sure fire floor filler down at the indie disco. The “hey man” lyrics likely pay tribute to Lou Reed and the guitar riff is almost eclipsed by the false ending leading to Bowie exclaim – “wham bam thank you ma’am” before the music comes storming back.

Earlier on the album, Bowie returns to the “Space Oddity” theme on on first single, “Starman”.  The earthbound lyrics expand to widescreen in the chorus where Bowie sings, “There’s a Starman, waiting in the sky/he’d like to come and meet us/but think he’d blow our minds”.  A performance of “Starman” was beamed into living rooms across the UK thanks to his appearance on Top of the Pops where many future singers were taking notes.  Regularly regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars propels Bowie into stardom and most of its tracks can still be heard on classic rock radio every day, everywhere around the world.

10/10

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