David Bowie adopted the moniker Ziggy Stardust for the follow-up to Hunky Dory
. Using the same musicians, the Ziggy Stardust
album isn't so much a musical quantum leap as an artistic one, in the areas of performance, staging, and image.
Prior to an androgynous-looking Ziggy (Bowie) draping his arm around the shoulders of Mick Ronson on Top Of The Pops
, it was considered career suicide for any gay performer 'to come out'. Elton John for example didn't come out until the mid-seventies, and at the time of Ziggy
, it just wasn't done. Such a simple gesture by Bowie changed the Rock scene forever, at least in England and Europe. It's hard to imagine 1980's acts like Boy George's Culture Club without the groundbreaking work David Bowie was doing in image terms, in the early 1970's.
Yet that in itself wasn't an entirely new idea even for Bowie, the artwork for The Man Who Sold The World
featured him wearing a dress, and the fact that David Bowie wasn't even gay, or perhaps even bisexual, seemed to be beside the point. It was more the gesture, the thrill the signal gave to fans across the country, such that during 1972 Bowie went from being a relative unknown to being the biggest-selling act in the UK since The Beatles. And it was all thanks to Ziggy.
Ziggy was an alien Rock star who reaches the height of fame just as Earth enters the last five years of its existence. And as Bowie had differing-coloured eyes (a result of an accident suffered years earlier), along with his bright orange hair he fitted such a role perfectly.
The album seems perfectly paced and structured. "Five Years" is the introduction, and the end in more ways than one arrives with "Rock And Roll Suicide". Hit single "Starman" is a brilliant song, not a million miles from the material that appeared on Hunky Dory
, only with a more prominent role for Mick Ronson's guitar, the strings combining with his crushing guitar riffs. Bowie re-visits his preoccupations with all things outer space. It's a classic song and a classic Bowie moment.
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
(blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews