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Classic Albums: David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

Renowned as Bowie’s greatest and one of rock’s monumental concept albums with the concept ironically taken out, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars revolves around the story of an androgynous alien messiah space rocker, Ziggy, and his apparent penchant for kabuki theatre!

Rumoured to have only taken a week to record, this strange creation opens with an ominous and chilling look at the future. The acoustics of ‘Five Years’ drums fade in gently to set the scene of a future apocalypse, which Bowie describes with haunting detail as he documents society’s reaction to the news. Following on in stark contrast is the cheery laid back swagger of ‘Soul Love’ and its sultry saxophone, lulling us into a false sense of security before the more punchy space haze of ‘Moonage Daydream’ and its highlight of Mick Ronson let loose on guitar for the song’s end solo.

‘Starman’s’ catchy chorus was, of course, the huge chart hit and it made Bowie’s alien persona a household name and a parent bothering nuisance, while conservative Britain blew its collective gasket during his homage to the glam rock icon, Marc Bolan, in the beautiful tale of ‘Lady Stardust’- aka "the boy in the bright blue jeans”.

Talk of gender blur, glitter and make-up is ditched towards the end of the album in favour of good old fashioned raucous rock n roll in the shape of ‘Hang On To Yourself’ and ‘Suffragette City’ exploding either side of the title track. Bowie closes the album in a state of high melodrama in ‘Rock n’ Roll Suicide’ where Ziggy is "sucked up into his mind” and leaves the world of rock a very different place.

Ziggy Stardust's power is not just in its theatricality - which it has in spades - but rather in its relative simplicity. Whereas concept albums are usually dense, inaccessible affairs, Ziggy is musically pretty straightforward. None of the eleven songs stretch far beyond four minutes with the majority of them sitting at around three minutes. None outstay their welcome and their brevity should be applauded for their ability to cram a huge story into a very short space of time.

Upon its release some if its harsher critics suggested that Ziggy Stardust would age badly. They couldn't have been more wrong. The record has aged spectacularly well, and has somehow transcended all manner of musical trends in its 40 year lifespan, and what's more it still feels as inventive today as it did upon release.

1) Five Years All songs by David Bowie except where stated 4:44
2) Soul Love
3) Moonage Daydream
4) Starman
5) It Ain't Easy Ron Davies 3:00
6) Lady Stardust
7) Star
8) Hang On To Yourself
9) Ziggy Stardust
10) Suffragette City
11) Rock N Roll Suicide


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