Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ziggy Played Guitar

Today's selection is David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972), or, from here on out, Ziggy Stardust. I called this post “Ziggy Played Guitar,” which is used as both the first and last line of the song “Ziggy Stardust.” Other potential titles I considered for this post include:
“Don't Lean on Me, Man”

“Hey, Man”
“Like a Leper Messiah”

“Like Some Cat from Japan”
“Making Love With His Ego”
“My Work’s Down The Drain”
“Well Hung and Snow White Tan”
“Wham, Bam, Thank You, Ma’am”

And, those are just lyrics from 2 of the 11 songs, “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City.” I was remembering that discussion from a few weeks back about songs that go together as a pair (e.g. “We Will Rock You”/“We Are The Champions”). “Ziggy Stardust”/“Suffragette City” belong on that list. At least, that's how the AOR stations played them where I grew up. But everyone knows those two heavy, electric guitar-driven classics, right?

How about “Five Years,” with its piano throughout, and then brilliant, screamed-chorus ending?

How about “Soul Love” with its unique combination of electric guitar power chords and jazzy saxophone?

How about “Moonage Daydream” with its aggressive, hard-edged guitar (electric & acoustic) and piano poundings? (“Freak out in a moonage daydream”)

How about “Starman” with its acoustic guitar, keyboards (and, yes, strings!) and cool electric lead guitar? (“He'd like to come and meet us/But he thinks he'd blow our minds”)

How about “It Ain't Easy” (written by Ron Davies and previously covered by Three Dog Night in 1970)? This one's a catchy little ditty, with a memorable chorus and very nice guitar work by Mr. Mick Ronson.

How about “Lady Stardust,” a piano-based tune about a cross-dressing singer/bandleader? (“Yes, he was alright/The song went on forever”) Where did Bowie get the inspiration for such a crazy concept as a cross-dressing singer/bandleader? (wink, wink)

How about “Star” with its driving, pounding piano? Was Bowie a space-age Little Richard on heroin? Just a thought. (“I could play the wild mutation/As a rock and roll star”)

How about “Hang Onto Yourself”? This one has more of the heavy, electric power chords and acoustic strumming, basically equal in the mix together, which is such a cool sound! (“We're the Spiders from Mars”)

How about “Rock 'N' Roll Suicide,” which is the acoustic, dirge-like closer?

I know, I know. I'm supposed to brag up Ziggy Stardust as such high, concept art. Whatever. Yes, there's a similar theme amongst the songs, and a barely-coherent story line that spans the album. But, I really don't give a shit about that. To me, this album is a great collection of tunes, a fantastic songwriting effort by Bowie. True, it flows wonderfully from beginning to end. However, it also would work in a random, "shuffle" mode on a CD or iPod. Rolling Stone says this LP is #35 of all-time. That's pretty high praise. I won't disagree.


Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

In an extremely bizarre career, this one shines as his apex - at least as far as I am concerned.

And you really can't make this stuff up. It's right there on vinyl!!!

9:29 AM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger Beth said...

I love your album posts, Haanster. Your best line here is Whatever. Who really wants to talk about the art of the album (okay, I do that sometimes) when you can just say that's a damn good collection of great songs.

I still have my vinyl copy, too, boys. And I'm gonna pull it out when I get home.

2:49 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger Old Lady said...

Brings back memories of album rock and when FM was virgin territory. One could tune in and listen to entire rock albums without interruption.

3:50 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger Beth said...

Old Lady, wasn't FM radio in the early 1970s great? I don't think I've ever enjoyed radio more than that freeform format.

4:36 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger Old Lady said...

Do you remember the King Biscuit Flower Hour?

7:48 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger Beth said...

Of course I do! Isn't there a compilation album out there somewhere?

11:17 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

The radio plays the hell out of "Rebel, Rebel" over here, with some "Young Americans."

What baffles me is that America has gone on as if "Station to Station," "Lodger" and "Scary Monsters," never existed.

While I realize that these weren't Bowie's best (though I have a lot of good memories with these albums), they are still better than 99.98% of anything that has come out in the last ten years.

5:55 AM, October 11, 2006  
Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"One could tune in and listen to entire rock albums without interruption."

Ah yes, but that's when groups tried to make entire albums, as opposed to now. Where you get two singles surrounded by filler.

5:57 AM, October 11, 2006  

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