Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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

David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
RCA, 1972
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2012
Price: $3
Ziggy Stardust never even sounds like it’s trying to establish itself as one of the best records of all time. And yet, there it is, one of those perfect albums you listen to and just go “Good goddamn this is the real fucking deal isn’t it?” I’m not a Bowie acolyte, but I understand how others could be. My sister was, and memories of my home during my high school years involve the Ziggy Stardust poster on her door. It’s the piece of album art I’m most familiar with. Every time I cam out of the bathroom, there was David Bowie standing outside that green door on a rainy street with “K. West” over his head. Sonically it’s drifted in and out of my consciousness for many years and I can’t remember the last time I actually sat down and listened to the whole thing all the way through. That’s the hazard of putting together a record where almost every song is a hit single. Most of these are eternally welcome whenever I hear them on the radio (which is more often than you’d think). If you strip away all the glam front and the swagger and the costumes, these are just astoundingly brilliant pop songs. Great melodies all the way through. But that glam front and swagger makes them brilliant. And weaving them into a concept album revolving around the (seemingly drug induced) story about an alien coming to Earth in its last five years and assuming the role of a rock and roll star and his eventual demise is the finishing touch that puts Ziggy Stardust into the realm of legend. It’s a perfect artifact from the late 70s. A cultural touchstone disguised as a goofy glam rock story. But it’s not goofy at all! That’s the great trick of Stardust isn’t it! I feel like people spend their lives going “Oh yeah David Bowie he’s a huge weirdo yeah yeah” but the story is prophetic, mythic, important, and straight-up fucking awesome. And sure, glam rock was responsible for the hair metal of the 80s, but what it did to spit in the face of traditional gender roles is something grand. And holy shit do the riffs on this album slay or what?! I swear every time I sit down with my guitar the first thing I do is run through the G-D-C of “Ziggy Stardust” and roughly play the first verse. This stuff sticks with you. 

No comments:

Post a Comment