Groove Train Classic Albums/Essential Listening #03

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars 1972

In 1972 David Bowie found himself at a cross roads and facing an artistic nadir… Whilst his first two albums “David Bowie” (1967) & “David Bowie” (1969) had failed to make any impact on charts or generate impressive sales figures… His following album 1970s “The Man Who Sold The World” had garnered solid interest and positive reviews from the critics but had failed to generate sales with only 1,395 copies selling in the US thus ending Bowies contract with Mercury Records . Having secured a three album deal with New York’s RCA label Bowie recorded 1971s “Hunky Dory” making it clear to RCA that he would be seeking to change both his image and his sound for his next album release… “Hunky Dory” offered up a rich tapestry of concepts based mainly around piano driven arrangements presenting songs largely unlike anything represented in the commercial music scene of the day… The single “Changes” enjoyed moderate success peaking at 66 on the US Billboard Chart… The subsequent album 1972s “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars” would prove a watershed album in Bowies career not only changing the trajectory and standing of his status as a musician and performer, but impacting and influencing the sounds and styles of popular music for decades to come. The pivotal importance of this album is truly difficult to overstate… From its opening tracks of Five Years and Soul Love with their beautifully balanced and delicately layered acoustic textures through “Moonage Daydream” with its superbly balanced blend of electronica and classical instrumentation spread across a well structured pop/rock background to the standout pop perfection of “Starman”. This album delivers a full roster of exquisitely crafted music across the board. The straight out rock of the titular “Ziggy Stardust”, “Hang On To Yourself” and “Suffragette City” are perfect example of early 70s guitar driven rock whilst the introspective balladry of the closing track “Rock and Roll Suicide” give a firm not to 1950s pastiche with its early Rock’N’Roll feel blending with rich horn arrangements. This album shows Bowie at a creative peak and lacks a single weak or throwaway track…. The contributions of the Bowies band “The Spiders From Mars” and in particular Mick Ronson’s work on guitars, piano, string arrangements and backing vocals are elemental to the new sound of Bowie. This album also saw Bowie unveil his transformation to the fabulous androgynous bi-sexual alien rock star from another planet “Ziggy Stardust” the first of many alter egos which Bowie would embrace over his long career, gfarnering him a reputation as the Rock ’N’ Roll chameleon, a trait that would lated be copied by Madona, Michael Jackson and more recently Lady GaGa.

It is no accident that Bowie and Ronson paired up to produce and play on Lou Reeds breakthrough album “Transformer” in the same year 1972…

If you are not familiar or aware of this album I cannot recommend it highly enough but to say that this disc should be a significant presence in the collection of any serious audiophile… Please take the time to listen to this album as a complete cohesive work and appreciate that the soundscapes and instrumentations paired on this work are in every way as significant and important to the development of the modern pop/rock idiom as albums such as “Pet Sounds” “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”, “Led Zeppelin IV”, “Dark Side Of The Moon”, “Blonde On Blonde” etc etc…

This is the 40th Anniversay Edition which includes additional tracks from the recording sessions… “John I’m Only Dancing, “Velvet Goldmine”, “Sweet Head” & initial demo versions of “Ziggy Stardust” and “Lady Stardust”. Drink It In Groovesters… Listen, Appreciate and Enjoy… Jimmy McGroove




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