Question: Who else could pull off an apocalyptic concept album by a horny, drug addicted alter-ego who wails his way through eleven glam rock anthems en route to rock ‘n’ roll suicide?
Answer: David Bowie
First off, I’m going to call this album Ziggy Stardust, because let’s face it – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a mouthful, a big mouthful. You’d need an: “abouttospeakinFinnishandIneedtotakeadeepbreathtogethroughthissentence” to say the whole album name, and by then you’d have lost interest.
Let me just put this album in context, this was Great Britain of the early ’70s and everything was a little.. Beige. I’m not going to bore you with a history lesson, but all I will say is that London was no longer swinging. Everyone was just a tad bored with life or life was a bit bored of the British, and our music had pretty much gone the same way.
Along came T-Rex and David Bowie. In full Technicolor Glam Rock. Boys could be girls, and girls could be boys, and things could be done any which way you wanted. It was high camp and expressing yourself in the Beige Age. David Bowie at the forefront of all this released his camp alter-ego on the world in 1973, and Ziggy Stardust the album was born. This was War of the Worlds for the new age.
Fast forward 25 years.
I first heard this album when I was 16, desperately trying to rebel after five years of catholic school (ahh the days of dodgy alcohol and smoking yourself silly to the point of sounding like Mariella Frostrup). Now don’t get me wrong, I’d been listening to David Bowie for many a year, yet had never seemingly heard the entirety of this album. I’m sure that even if you’re not a Bowie fan, you’ll have heard songs such as the title track- Ziggy Stardust (AKA the credits song for Absolutely Fabulous), or Starman.
As concepts went, this was a belated awakening for me. I’d never heard an album that was a story from start to finish with each song moving the tale on (yes, I know, it’s all in the full album title). It felt different. It felt rebellious.. It’s an album that makes you feel like you’re caught up in a sweeping saga, charting the last five years of Earth where some drug addled alien has come to save us all. And dammit, those last five years are going to be fun.
The whole album, for me, has an ethereal quality that really hasn’t been matched before or since.
God only knows how David Bowie came up with idea, but it works.
Stand Out Songs:
I’d just like to say this is a really hard choice, I mean REALLY hard (I really recommend listening to it all in its entirety it’s not a dip in album. Everyone will find something that they can related to). But if I had to choose four songs:
- It ain’t easy
- Rock ‘n’ roll suicide
- Ziggy Stardust