I played The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars at maximum volume. Or at least very loudly. And not because I was told to, but because it is excellent. David Bowie’s concept album is themed around a Rock star from space, his message for humanity, fame and the vices that lead to his demise. Bowie’s
musical chameleon-like versatility shines on this record, which is at times raucous and gentle, insightful and whimsical.
Ziggy Stardust works very well as a whole album. Its tracks cover a variety of styles and subjects, but the thematic link between them creates a continuous piece. The pick-and-mix assortment of sounds on this album gives it an avant-garde feel in keeping with its space-age setting. There is the odd moment that drags, such as the laboured ending to Lady Stardust, but pointing this out seems slightly petty when such lulls are soon forgotten in a punchy riff or an imaginative lyric.
Sex, drugs and superstardom are topics I have heard sung about countless times before listening to this album, but Bowie’s way with words makes even such well-covered subjects sparkle. The record is peppered with poetic turns of phrase, and although it can make some songs hard to decipher (Suffragette City, I’m talking about you!) the imaginative lyrics are the true stars of Ziggy Stardust, giving the album a depth beyond the catchy tunes. What a ‘hazy cosmic jive’.