Top 100 Album Review: #35 – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, David Bowie (1972)

Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am.

The flair and pomp gets more attention, but the album itself is actually good. 91WJORzpHML._SY355_.jpg

Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #35/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

I was bracing myself for a let down.

Most of the things you find about this album online are about the extracurricular activities: the hairstyles, alter-egos, and concept. I found more words about David Bowie’s supposed sexuality than attention to the music itself. No worries needed here thankfully. There are a handful of great songs that can easily be enjoyed whether you think David’s gay or not.

david-and-the-spiders-per-011.jpg[OVERVIEW]

Ziggy Stardust is about a rock n’roll alien who is bisexual.

At least that’s what David Bowie rationalized after the fact. Like almost every other instance of a “concept” album, the actually product is way more of a hodge podge than a concrete idea. The story was written after the fact, trying to make sense of the eclectic subject matter and collection of songs.

That didn’t stop the band from playing a long. Everyone dressed and played their part, and supposedly Bowie was so into the character of Ziggy Stardust that it affected him mentally:

“That was when it all started to go sour … My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity.”

The final story that goes along with this album is found nowhere within it. Instead, it took on a fan fiction life and Bowie pushed the narrative that he saw fit after its release. Loosely speaking, Ziggy Stardust saves the world from destruction and becomes the number one rock n’ roll figure that succumbs to his own fame with his demise in the final track Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide. 

[TRACKLISTING]

1. Five Years 4:42
2. Soul Love 3:33
3. Moonage Daydream 4:37
4. Starman 4:16
5. It Ain’t Easy 2:57
6. Lady Stardust 3:21
7. Star 2:47
8. Hang Onto Yourself 2:38
9. Ziggy Stardust 3:13
10. Suffragette City 3:25
11. Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide 2:45

[BEST TRACK: Suffragette City]

Just a solid Rock n’ Roll standard.

Don’t lean on me man ”cause you ain’t got time to check it
You know my Suffragette City
Is outta sight she’s all right.

[BEST TRACK RUNNER UP: Starman]

A song that goes along with the concept, it was a late addition to the album when a producer thought it would make a great single. He was right.

There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds.

[BEST HIDDEN GEM: Soul Love]

This song escapes classification. It’s a little rock, some soul, maybe parts gospel? Whatever it is, it’s a pretty solid b-side addition.

Love is careless in its choosing
Sweeping over cross a baby
Love descends on those defenseless
Idiot love will spark the fusion.

[MOST RECOGNIZABLE GUITAR RIFF: Ziggy Stardust]

While I find this song rather middle of the road, the opening guitar riffs are transcendent.

Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly,
And the spiders from Mars. He played it left hand
But made it too far
Became the special man, then we were Ziggy’s band.

[CONCLUSION]

While there is a lot of lore surrounding this album about a promiscuous alien that saves the human race, there are some really good songs here. No need to get distracted by the flair, folks.

Other People’s Takes: 

  • 1001 Albums You Must Hear (and Blog About) Before You Die: “My favorite thing about this album is that it is only 38 minutes is an intense experiance from start to finish.”
  • The Vinyl Listening Project: There’s some great music on here, even if you’re not one to buy into the whole science fiction rock-and-roll fantasy motif.”
  • Winslowisms: Possibly the closest David Bowie ever came to pioneering something was on this record, where he fleshed out the nascent glam rock genre and added a transparently ridiculous and vague space opera story to it.”

 

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

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