Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Ziggy Played Guitar..."

Last week’s entry focused on Marc Bolan, the man who set the tone for glam rock in the early 70s. Today we’ll look at tge man that took Bolan’s glam rock foundation to a stellar level.

Rocker Profile: David Jones, later relabelled David “Bowie”, first entered the music scene at a young age. Like Bolan, Bowie first began to make a name for himself writing and performing psychedelic folk tunes for an underground audience. One of these tracks, recorded in 1969 for a self-titled album, was the popular “Space Oddity”. This song was recorded to coincide with the moon landing and it quickly climbed the UK charts. It was soon after Bowie’s first tastes of artistic and commercial success that he teamed with the most influential collaborator of his glitter phase, Mick Ronson. Ronson contributed to five Bowie albums in the seventies, including the popular “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” and “A Lad Insane”, two records which unified a space-aged glitter sound with astronomical visuals. The Ronson albums became well-known for Bowie’s experimentally androgynous stageshow . He dawned layers of sparkling makeup, platform heals, and tight lycra jumpsuits onstage. David focused on creating a visual personification of the flashy and weird glam rock sounds of the 70s and he became extremely successful because of it.

Glamtastic Review: We’re going to have a brief look at Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”. The album begins with the apocalyptic “5 years”, a slow, piano driven track that lays the groundwork for the album. The song successfully introduces bizarre imagery; the world is close to an end and everyone seems to be learning to cope with the dark atmosphere. It’s a fantastically ear-tugging opener. The album boasts many chugging, distorted tracks like “Suffragette City” and “Star”. The track “Hang Onto Yourself”, with its clap track and frantically simple bass, sounds as though it would fit in perfectly with any early "Ramones" record. I think the most prominent gems on the album are the slower tracks, though. Songs like “Starman”, “Rock and Roll Suicide” and “Ziggy Stardust” take their time with simple melodies which frame Bowie’s interesting and energetic voice. Bowie has an absolutely stunning range, his highs are practically feminine on the record. “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” is a fantastic concept album, it jumps from different ideas in a near apocalyptic world inhabited by spaced out rockers. This album IS "glitter". Listen to it a couple times.

"Starman" live

Bowie black and white from:
Album artwork from :


  1. this is such an amazing Bowie album! I quite like the song "soul love" as well. Did you see SNL a few weeks ago when they did a brief Bowie impression? It was hilarious.
    Also have you seen the Flight of the Conchords video for "Bowie's in Space"? It is phenominally funny, check it out:
    It just shows how embedded he is in the public consciousness still. BOWIE ROCKS - who doesn't love gender bending!?!?