Every once in awhile a song, or an album, or maybe an artist comes along and grabs you… really gets some hooks in you. Maybe even out of nowhere.
So it was with me and David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars:
An androgynous rock and roll spaceman, trying to save the earth, begins to believe he is some kind of prophet and is consumed by a black hole…
To be fair, to call this a concept album (a la Tommy) would be a stretch… it’s more of a concept of a concept album as the storyline falls apart pretty quickly. But what we’re left with is guitar rock, pop songs, glam poses (is Hang On To Yourself a T Rex tune?) keys, strings and vocals with a cinematic flair.
This record has it all for me. First, it’s just a great rock album. It says right there on the back of the jacket “TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME”. Second, it sounds great. Bowie and guitar player Mick Ronson did a great stereo arrangement of all the various instruments and effects and the album plays great over speakers and in headphones. Third, Bowie’s vocals swing from straight ahead rock, to storyteller, to audacious stage actor… witty, colorful and totally unique. It’s just fun to listen to. Finally, if you ever wondered what the final act of a rock and roll star was like, side B of this album pretty well lays it out. From self doubt, to jubilation, to internal strife, to consumption by fans and fame.
The B side is the soul of this record and the story, but lately I’ve been digging side A for its best ever version of the song It Ain’t Easy and my latest favorite song from the record Moonage Daydream.
Now THAT is a rock and roll show!