The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie

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The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie

Album Released: 1972

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars ::: Artwork

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1.Five Years4:43
2.Soul Love3:33
3.Moonage Daydream4:39
5.It Ain't Easy2:57
6.Lady Stardust3:21
8.Hang On To Yourself2:38
9.Ziggy Stardust3:13
10.Suffragette City3:25
11.Rock 'n' Roll Suicide2:58


This is the album that made Bowie a superstar, at least in the UK, influencing an entire generation of dolled-up British boys to chuck soccer for the chance to dress up like girls and pretend they were Rock Stars. In other words, one of the primary inspirations for the late-70's British punk explosion, though it's not often mentioned as such.

Tight and super-compressed, it brings Ronson's guitar back to the fore on all but a handful of tracks, and Bowie's writing has never been sharper. If you've heard The Man Who Sold the World this might sound fairly conventional, but it works much better as sheer driving rock'n'roll with hooks'n'riffs loaded up to the wazoo.

There's a stack of sharp tunes played all the time on Classic Rock radio such as "Ziggy Stardust", hilarious all the way through, especially the line he was the Nazz with god-given ass, he took it all too far but boy could he play guitar (which Johnny Rotten mangled when quoted about Sid Vicious, as 'He took it all too far, and boy he couldn't play guitar'). "Suffragette City" zips along at near-hardcore speed, though it isn't punk because it's more playful than intense, as Bowie decides that he needs a woman for a change.

The stuff they don't play on the radio is just as good, especially "Hang On To Yourself", with the ultimate great one-note bass line; "Moonage Daydream" ripped off two decades later by Grant Lee Buffalo in their um, 'original' "Jupiter and Teardrop"; and "Starman" that I hope didn't inspire the Hale Bopp suicide victims (There's a starman waiting in the sky, he'd like to come and meet us, but he thinks he'll blow our minds), though it probably inspired the 1984 movie of the same name.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)

Oh man, how many times have I listened to this album? If I knew the answer to that question, I'm sure it would surprise me, and yet not surprise me at the same time. I've listened to this album a lot.

Even now, when I hear the first inkling of that ultra-clean drum beat fade-in of “Five Years”, I still get tremendously excited about it. This is Ziggy Stardust!

Yes sir, this is my absolute favorite album of all time, and it has held that position ever since I first acquired it in December 2001. The main reason it's kept that distinction for so long is that I have never ever grown tired of listening to it ... I didn't tire of it when I listened to it at least five times a week in 2002, and I'm not tired of it as I'm listening to it right now (I apologize that most of this review reads like an autobiography, as considering this is my favorite album of all time, I think I should probably background why that's so).

Thinking about it years later, it's really no surprise why I made such a connection with this album. Previous to getting into rock music, I only listened to Broadway soundtracks. I also used to read a lot of books as a teenager, mostly classic sci-fi. So how was I not supposed to become an immediate fan of a theatrical concept album about a rock'n'roll space alien?

It is a great album too. I know that for a fact, because I'm not the only person in the world who loves it! Simply put, this is fun - pretty much every one of these songs is insanely catchy, loaded with Bowie's twisted personality, and with a fair amount of diversity to keep the experience punchy.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

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.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

You should see my desk right now. It's cluttered with a big bulky desktop computer and CD's ... XTC, Collective Soul, RZA, Coltrane, Betty Boo, Sugar, Duke Ellington, Tracy Chapman ... the list goes on. And they all suck. Rather, they're mediocre, the pick of the bargain bin, a few good songs but nothing I've gone crazy over.

Then along comes Ziggy Stardust - for three bucks - and I love it. It's theatrical and grandiose, yet grounded in Mick Ronson's ballsy rock guitar and piano. And although at heart David Bowie's singing is insincere, a put-on, he does it with such feeling I don't care. There are orchestrations, crunching riffs, shifting structures, and anthemic choruses. The ballads are desperate and dreamy and the rockers are frantic - there isn't a song I'd throw away.

It all seems to build up to "Suffragette City", which is about as much rock and roll fun as you can have without being emotionally involved. If the album isn't as organic or beautiful as my all-time favorites, it's as entertaining as a rock album should be - weird and complex, but never losing the hooks and colorful diversity that make the medium enduring and enjoyable.

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by Reviewer: Cosmic Ben

I'd always wanted to acquire Ziggy Stardust, I think because the album had such an evocative name. And although the concept behind the album is without any profundity whatsoever, that makes for much more exciting songs than found on other concept albums, like say Pink Floyd's The Wall - lines like so where were the spiders while the fly tried to break our balls may be nonsensical, but they make for exciting rock and roll.

The opening "Five Years" sets the scene for the album by building tension that breaks into a singalong chorus about how the world is going to end in five years. And the rest of Ziggy Stardust is in the same vein - inane songs with singalong choruses which are generally entertaining - particularly the singles "Ziggy Stardust" and "Starman". The odd song out is "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide", which is more personal than the rest of the album (R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" sounds suspiciously the same).

The album loses momentum in the middle, but its best parts are a product of a bizarre imagination, or possibly a lot of drugs. So if it's glam/rock you're looking for, although I'd check out the early Roxy Music albums first, Ziggy Stardust is also a cornerstone of the movement.

Interestingly, Ziggy Stardust was a big influence on the punk scene of 1977, especially "Five Years", which predicted the world would end five years after the album's release in 1972. "Hang On To Yourself" was apparently the only song that inept Sex Pistol's bass player Sid Vicious could play properly.

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by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia (blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct])

Although it hasn't aged all that well, there's still something to this whacked-out and not entirely cohesive concept album about 'An Alien Rock Star at the End of the World'. It's where Bowie's theatrical training finally came into full use, as he transforms himself from an asexual, hard-rocking, loungey, half-folkie crossdresser into an asexual, hard-rocking, loungey, half-folkie crossdresser ... with an orange hairdo.

The album beats Hunky Dory in both unity-of-feel and quality of performance, plus it has two of Bowie's greatest songs, done in a balls-out style he'd have trouble ever repeating. Other than that, don't be surprised if stretches of Ziggy seem to be coasting on fumes, at least until its pyrotechnic fourth quarter, where it suddenly doesn't seem like such a horrible waste of time and money.

The album starts off with the oddly touching "Five Years", a song that announces the end of the world is five years away, which is odd, since it's never mentioned again. Still - much like the album's gloomy, raindrenched artwork - it sets a morbid mood that's maintained throughout what are otherwise musically upbeat songs such as "Soul Love" and "Starman", to finally end in a crash-and-burn decadent ending. So everything's rendered a bit creepy, a bit dark, just by that setup song and the arc it creates.

After a couple of more or less conceptually useless songs, Ziggy makes himself known to the world, becomes a rock star, gets fucked up on fame, and ends up killing himself in a very drama-queen sorta way. So Bowie's essentially retelling the last third of The Who's Tommy with Ziggy as a 'Martian Rock Star Messiah' instead of a 'Pinball Player Messiah', except he doesn't ever get his 'revelation' at the end.

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by Reviewer: Capt Bonanza (blogging at Capn Marvel's Bonanza [Defunct])

Ziggy Stardust spent 106 weeks on the UK chart, reaching No.5, whilst on the US chart it hung around for 72 weeks but only reached No.75.

Whilst some of Bowie's early albums are good, others are for Bowie devotees only. This album however, could be appreciated by anyone, Bowie fan or not. It looks behind all the glitz and glamour of the showbiz life of a fictitious popstar called Ziggy, from beginning to a bitter end.

Album opener "Five Years" sees Bowie calmly telling the story of a dying planet, then he cracks towards the end, as the truth about what is going to happen in five years slowly sinks in. Then on "Soul Love" he makes some observations about true love, whilst the next track "Moonage Daydream" is for me the album's outstanding track - it's early Bowie at his finest, where the foundations for 'Major Tom' are laid - featuring some nice piano as well as brilliant guitar from the late Mick Ronson.

The space theme continues with "Starman", a UK No.10 hit in 1972. If you've heard "Starman" and liked it, then you'll love this album. "It Ain't Easy" follows, another excellent little song - Bowie sings the verses quietly, and then the band blast in with the chorus.

"Lady Stardust" tells the story of a transvestite performer who is ridiculed for being different; "Star" has Bowie looking forward to all the trappings of a successful pop career - the fame and fortune and everything that goes with it.

Over the next three tracks, "Hang on to Yourself", the maybe autobiographical "Ziggy Stardust", and "Suffragette City", the pop star of the story get to the top, initially loving it, then eventually begin to hate it. All three songs are classic Bowie rock'n'roll, played to maximum effect by The Spiders.

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by Reviewer: Paul Mouse