The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – David Bowie

Released June 16, 1972 this loose concept album is about Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, a fictional androgynous bisexual rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings. To date it has sold 7.5 million copies worldwide and was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, and artistically significant.”

Jason: Bowie is one of your top three favorite artists of all time so I am going to let you start…

Brad: Yes, he is along with Madonna and Prince. This isn’t my favorite Bowie album but it is probably in my top 5 of Bowie albums. What did you think of it?

Jason: I’ve never listened to a complete Bowie album start-to-finish, other than being in the room when you have had one on. I think this is really good. I like that it has a point of view. It’s so well thought out and intelligent. The whole album tells a story. Were you worried I was going to hate it?

Brad: A little bit. I feel relieved that our relationship can continue

Jason: We will test it again when we get to the Billy Joel album. This isn’t your favorite album, why not? 

Brad: I mean…I really love it but Hunky Dory is my favorite. I also love Low, Lodger, Station to Station, Scary Monsters and Blackstar.

Jason: So basically all of his albums.

Brad: Although, Ziggy Stardust seems to be the one that most people know really well…as they should.

Jason: This album is very high concept.

Brad: Yeah, it is. It was recorded shortly after “Hunky Dory”. Bowie didn’t think “Hunky Dory” would translate as well as a live concert. So they created the songs for “Ziggy Stardust” with a little more theatricality that would translate better live

Jason: What I find interesting is that he released 4 albums between 1972 and 1974. He only released two singles from this album, “Starman” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” and in between he released 9 other singles from Aladdin Sane, Hunky Dory, David Bowie, Pin Ups, and Diamond Dogs. That’s crazy. No one does that anymore.

Brad: Well, Ariana Grande released 2 albums within 6 months.

Jason: Okay, but he was releasing singles back and forth from various albums. I wonder how much of that was him and how much was the labels.

Brad: Much like Prince in the 80s, Bowie was on fire in the 70s. He seemed to have such a flood of ideas and songs. It is impressive

Jason: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. I like how this album has various styles, glam rock, hard rock, punk, and pop but it all works well together.

Brad: Yeah, this one seems like the most “Classic Rock” of all of his albums. It works really well from beginning to end and these songs get covered all the time

Jason: I think “It Ain’t Easy” is my favorite. There isn’t a bad song on this. This is the album people know the most but it wasn’t even his best seller. I think the Ziggy Stardust character helped create a brand for a bit.

Brad: Interesting that you chose “It Ain’t Easy” because it is the one cover song on the album. It’s a Ron Davies song.

Jason: Oh, really? LOL. Okay, I will pick another song… “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.” What do you like about this album overall?

Brad: Overall, I think the songs and the story flows really well. I love the album cover. “Starman” is one of my all-time favorite songs. I also love that he created the Ziggy Stardust character/persona and then killed him off at the end of the tour. In our culture of sequel after sequel, it is weird to kill something off at the height of its popularity. But it was a brilliant move.

Jason: It allowed him to move on creatively. Just like how Madonna killed off Esther. Did she kill off Esther? Maybe it’s more like how Garth Brooks killed off Chris Gaines but that was because he sucks and Gaines was stupid.

Brad: Ha! Chris Gaines was a disaster.

Jason: I think it’s safe to say that Bowie was a genius. 

Brad: Yes, he most certainly was and we are lucky that we were alive while he was here.

Jason: The thing I remember most from the “David Bowie Is” exhibition was that his waist was 26.5″. That’s Violet Chachki sized.

Brad: That is crazy tiny. Although, he was on a lot of drugs in the 70s and wasn’t very healthy. So not necessarily something to aspire to.

Jason: No definitely not. So what letter grade would you give The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars?

Brad: For sure and A.

Jason: I figured you’d give it an A but I was wondering if there would be a +/- in there. I would also give it an A. It’s rare to get a real concept album anymore so I am always impressed when an artist has a true vision and does it successfully. 

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  1. Pingback: 100 Albums Bucket List | Jason S Steele

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