David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars - 30th Anniversary Edition
Reviewed by Matt Rowe on August 28, 2002
How lucky can a person get? With reissues and anniversary editions proliferating (and I can't wait to get my reviewin' hands on a lot of them) I get the enviable chance to review the classics that I grew up with. And it is a special privilege to go back in time, to listen once again , to the sounds that made up a part of my generation.
And what can be said about "Ziggy Stardust" that hasn't already been voiced? That it is a timeless classic? Already been said. That it transcends the music of it's time? Someone said that already ,too. That it's David Bowie's best? Come on now, we've all heard that as well. Now, we don't despute that it's one of his best but we do say that it's joined by some of his other worthy efforts.
If you haven't ever heard "Ziggy Stardust" then get ready for a treat. Because it wears the classic label quite well. It is loosely based on a superstar that committed career hari kari in France by dismissing his band and appearing on stage proclaiming to be Jesus Christ. But what came from that are eleven superior songs played by the most talented band in rock music at the time it was produced. That band, eventually dubbed "The Spiders from Mars" consisted of Mick Ronson, the right hand of David Bowie. It was said that Ronson's collaboration was intrinsic to Bowie and startlingly so.
Mick's guitar arrangements were so important to this release that it's hard to realize another performing the licks. Mick Ronson, went on to work with Mott the Hoople and eventually, Ian Hunter. Sadly, Mick died several years back and has 'crossed the bridge' but he will never be forgotten. Just put on "Ziggy Stardust" and he resurrects.
The bass guitar of Trevor Bolder is so perfect here. It reverberates when it's supposed to and is simply a joy to hear. Bolder went on to other things as well, including stints with Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash, amongst other endeavers but here he stunning. Mick Woodmansey's, known as "Woody" to us fans, drum work is excellent. The Spiders From Mars were essential.
David Bowie's voice is in top shape here. Bluesy when needed ("It Ain't Easy") and rock hard otherwise. We haven't heard David reach that level in years but that's what holds the magical influence that "Ziggy Stardust", "Hunky Dory", and "Aladdin Sane" contain.
Every song is a gem here. The rock anthem of "Ziggy Stardust" and "Suffragette City" along with the other classics give us one of the most enduring rock chronicles in Rock n Roll history.
The digitalization of "Ziggy Stardust" was inevitable. And it sounds so great. The production of Ken Scott was always well crafted especially with Bowie's other works that Ken had a hand in. The instruments are clear and L/R plays are spectacular to hear. Bowie's vocals and Ronson's guitars are so like "Can you hear me now? Good!" The backing vocals sounds as if the singers are right here with you, especially notable on "Suffragette City". David's sax playing is so clear here that it's shockingly perfect. I give the remastering an A+ .
The second disc, containing a plethora of added goodies, all gold. There are remixes ("Moonage Daydream") and demos ("Ziggy Stardust" and "Lady Stardust"), including some truly cool additions. The discs are painted to match the art of the sleeve that contains it and are familiar photos.
Typically, I dislike strange casings and packaging and this one is really no different. A book like case with the discs encased in side pockets Sandwiched between the covers and discs is a 40 page tome crammed with colour and b/w photos, stories, remembrances, track listings, credits and notes. While the casing is not to my liking and has already shown signs of wear with a torn spine, it's an acceptable package given its content.
THE FINAL SAY
What can I say? One of the great icons of Rock is revisited with one of his most accessible albums and I'm delirious with joy. This is a definite purchase for those of you who grew up with David Bowie and liked his music and an must have for those who like Bowie but have never gone back into the catalogue to see where he came from. But watch out, once you do, you may find yourself digging even farther for more Bowie diamonds.
Copyright © 2002 Matthew Rowe. All rights reserved.
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