|The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars|
|Studio album by David Bowie|
|Released||16 June 1972|
|Recorded||8 November 1971 - 4 February 1972|
|Studio||Trident Studios, London|
|David Bowie chronology|
|Singles from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars|
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (often shortened to Ziggy Stardust) is the fifth studio album by English musician David Bowie, released on 16 June 1972 in the United Kingdom. It was produced by Bowie and Ken Scott and features contributions from the Spiders from Mars, Bowie's backing band - Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey. The album was recorded in Trident Studios, London, like his previous album, Hunky Dory. Most of the album was recorded in November 1971 with further sessions in January and early February 1972.
Described as a loose concept album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is about Bowie's titular alter ego Ziggy Stardust, a fictional androgynous bisexual rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings. The character was retained for the subsequent Ziggy Stardust Tour through the United Kingdom, Japan and North America. The album, and the character of Ziggy Stardust, were influenced by glam rock and explored themes of sexual exploration and social taboos. A concert film of the same name, directed by D. A. Pennebaker, was recorded in 1973 and released a decade later.
Considered Bowie's breakthrough album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars peaked at number five on the UK Albums Chart and number 75 in the US Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart. As of January 2016 it had sold 7.5 million copies worldwide. The album received widespread critical acclaim and has been considered one of the greatest albums of all time. In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry, being deemed "culturally, historically, or artistically significant" by the Library of Congress.
Bowie started working on his fourth album, Hunky Dory on 8 June 1971 at Trident Studios, London.RCA Records in New York heard the tapes and signed him to a three-album deal on 9 September. Hunky Dory was released on 17 December to positive reviews and moderate commercial success.Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust were almost recorded back-to-back, but much of the material for Ziggy Stardust was recorded before Hunky Dory was released. His backing band realised that most of the songs on Hunky Dory were not suitable live material, so they needed a follow-up that could be toured behind.
Ziggy Stardusts sessions also took place at Trident, using a 16-track 3M M56 tape recorder. The sessions started on 8 November 1971, with the bulk of the album recorded that month, and concluded on 4 February 1972. Bowie had recorded early versions of the songs "Moonage Daydream" and "Hang On to Yourself" in February 1971, for the Arnold Corns side project, and had taped demos of "Ziggy Stardust" and "Lady Stardust" around that time. The November 1971 sessions produced the final versions of those four songs, along with "Rock 'n' Roll Star" (later shortened to "Star"), "Soul Love", and "Five Years", as well as some unreleased tracks.[a] In 2012, co-producer Ken Scott said that "95 percent of the vocals on the four albums I did with him as producer, they were first takes."
Also recorded during the November sessions were five more songs: two covers, Chuck Berry's "Around and Around" (re-titled "Round and Round") and Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam" (re-titled "Port of Amsterdam"); and three original tracks: "Velvet Goldmine", and re-recordings of "Holy Holy" and "The Supermen". All these songs were initially slated for the album.[a] Bowie also intended "All the Young Dudes", "Rebel Rebel" and "Rock 'n' Roll with Me" to be on a Ziggy Stardust musical, which was later aborted.
After recording some of the new songs for radio presenter Bob Harris's Sounds of the 70s as the newly dubbed Spiders from Mars in January 1972, the band returned to Trident that month to begin work on "Suffragette City" and "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide". RCA executive Dennis Katz had complained that the album did not contain a single, so Bowie wrote "Starman," which was completed on 4 February 1972. "Starman" was released as a single on 28 April 1972, and became a hit after a successful performance on the BBC television program Top of the Pops. The Ron Davies cover "It Ain't Easy", recorded on 9 July 1971 during the Hunky Dory sessions, closed the first side of the album.[a]
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars is about a bisexual alien rock superstar, called Ziggy Stardust.Ziggy Stardust was not conceived as a concept album and much of the story was written after the album was recorded. The characters were androgynous. Mick "Woody" Woodmansey, drummer for the Spiders from Mars, said the clothes they had worn had "femininity and sheer outrageousness", and that the characters' looks "definitely appealed to our rebellious artistic instincts". Nenad Georgievski of All About Jazz said the record was presented with "high-heeled boots, multicolored dresses, extravagant makeup and outrageous sexuality". Bowie had already developed an androgynous appearance, which was approved by critics, but received mixed reactions from audiences. His love of acting led his total immersion in the characters he created for his music. After acting the same role over an extended period, it became impossible for him to separate Ziggy Stardust from his own offstage character. Bowie said that Ziggy "wouldn't leave me alone for years. That was when it all started to go sour ... My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity." Fearing that Ziggy would define his career, Bowie quickly developed the persona of Aladdin Sane in his subsequent album. Unlike Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane was far less optimistic, instead engaging in aggressive sexual activities and heavy drugs.
The character was inspired by British rock 'n' roll singer Vince Taylor, whom David Bowie met after Taylor had had a breakdown and believed himself to be a cross between a god and an alien. However, Taylor was only part of the blueprint for the character. Other influences included the cult musician Legendary Stardust Cowboy and Kansai Yamamoto, who designed the costumes Bowie wore during the tour. An alternative theory is that, during a tour, Bowie developed the concept of Ziggy as a melding of the persona of Iggy Pop with the music of Lou Reed, producing "the ultimate pop idol". A girlfriend recalled his "scrawling notes on a cocktail napkin about a crazy rock star named Iggy or Ziggy", and on his return to England he declared his intention to create a character "who looks like he's landed from Mars".
The Ziggy Stardust name came partly from the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, and partly because Ziggy was "one of the few Christian names I could find beginning with the letter 'Z'". In 1990, Bowie explained that the "Ziggy" part came from a tailor's shop called Ziggy's that he passed on a train. He liked it because it had "that Iggy [Pop] connotation but it was a tailor's shop, and I thought, Well, this whole thing is gonna be about clothes, so it was my own little joke calling him Ziggy. So Ziggy Stardust was a real compilation of things." He later asserted that Ziggy Stardust was born out of a desire to move away from the denim and hippies of the 1960's. Along these lines, some critics assert that Bowie's artificial concoction of a rock star persona was a symbolic critique of the artificiality seen in the rock world of the time.
The album's concept is loose, and pieced together after many of the songs were already recorded. Indeed, before the album's initial release Bowie told a US interviewer:
What you have there on that album when it does finally come out, is a story which doesn't really take place, it's just a few little scenes from the life of a band called Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, who could feasibly be the last band on Earth--it could be within the last five years of Earth. I'm not at all sure. Because I wrote it in such a way that I just dropped the numbers into the album in any order that they cropped up. It depends in which state you listen to it in.
With only five years left to survive, the earth is saved by the rock n' roll messiah, Ziggy Stardust. He wins the hearts of teens, scares parents, seduces everyone in his path, and eventually dies a victim of his own fame. According to Bowie, he "takes himself up to the incredible spiritual heights and is kept alive by his disciples". During the song "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide", the infinites arrive, and tear Ziggy Stardust to pieces on stage. This wider interpretation of the Ziggy mythology is not explicitly stated anywhere in the album, but has been perpetuated over the years by fans and Bowie himself.
Ziggy Stardust has been retrospectively described as glam rock and proto-punk. Nenad Georgievski felt the record represents Bowie's interests in "theater, dance, pantomime, kabuki, cabaret and science fiction."
For the album, Mick Ronson used an electric guitar plugged to a 100-watt Marshall amplifier and a wah-wah pedal; Bowie played acoustic rhythm guitar. The album begins with "Five Years", which opens with a minimalist drum figure. The track contains a repeated diatonic chord progression, resembling early 1950s rock and roll music. "Five Years" sets up the central conflict of the album, the imminent destruction of earth. The next track, "Soul Love", has a pop-jazz orchestration. In the song, Bowie's vocals are double tracked, which gives an effect of two people singing and suggests a band performance. Bowie also performs the alto saxophone on this song. The following track, "Moonage Daydream", uses harmonic and melodic hooks, and heavy metal-style percussion and guitar. "Moonage Daydream" introduces the alien messiah that will rescue the earth from disaster. "Starman" was the last song written on the album and the first released as a single. "Starman" replaced the cover of Chuck Berry's "Round and Round" when the band decided their album needed a single; it is perhaps the most concrete description of Ziggy's role in the rescue of earth. "It Ain't Easy" is a raucous cover of Ron Davies. Its arrangement was described by Ned Raggett as "a cabaret confection and a blasting rock apocalypse", characterized by quieter verses contrasting with choruses that contain overdubbed backing vocals and Ronson's "brilliantly triumphant guitar". The track closes the first side of the album.
"Lady Stardust" has a moderate tempo, piano accompaniment and a pop hook. The guitar and Bowie's and Ronson's arrangement on "Hang On to Yourself" resemble late 1970s punk rock. "Suffragette City", one of the greatest hits of the album, is a "straight-ahead" track which contains a saxophone-like section, produced with an ARP 2500 synthesiser. The last track of the album, "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide," builds upon its minimalistic acoustic guitar textures as Ziggy's desperate message struggles to enlighten his earthling audience. The arc of the album reaches its climax as the starman belts out his final words of wisdom before perishing onstage.
Ziggy Stardust concept and music were influenced by Bowie's earlier album, The Man Who Sold The World,Iggy Pop, the lead singer of the proto-punk band the Stooges,Lou Reed, vocalist and songwriter of the Velvet Underground,Marc Bolan, lead singer of glam rock band T. Rex, guitarist and singer Jimi Hendrix; and progressive rock band King Crimson. The album's lyrics discuss the artificiality of rock music in general, political issues, drug use, sexual orientation and stardom.Stephen Thomas Erlewine described the album's lyrics as "fractured, paranoid" and "evocative of a decadent, decaying future".
The album cover photograph was taken by Mick Rock outside furriers "K. West" at 23 Heddon Street, London in January 1972, looking south-east towards the centre of the city. Bowie said of the sign, "It's such a shame that sign went [was removed]. People read so much into it. They thought 'K. West' must be some sort of code for 'quest.' It took on all these sort of mystical overtones." The post office in the background (now "The Living Room, W1" bar) was the site of London's first nightclub, The Cave of the Golden Calf, which opened in 1912. As part of street renovations, in April 1997 a red "K series" phonebox was returned to the street, replacing a modern blue phonebox, which in turn had replaced the original phonebox featured on the rear cover.
Of the album's packaging in general, Bowie said:
The idea was to hit a look somewhere between the Malcolm McDowell thing with the one mascaraed eyelash and insects. It was the era of Wild Boys, by William S. Burroughs. [...] [It] was a cross between that and Clockwork Orange that really started to put together the shape and the look of what Ziggy and the Spiders were going to become. [...] Everything had to be infinitely symbolic."
The rear cover of the original vinyl LP contained the instruction "TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME" (in caps). The instruction was omitted, however, from re-releases.
In March 2012, The Crown Estate, which owns Regent Street and Heddon Street, installed a commemorative brown plaque at No. 23 in the same place as the "K. West" sign on the cover photo. The unveiling was attended by original band members Woodmansey and Bolder, and was unveiled by Gary Kemp. The plaque was the first to be installed by The Crown Estate and is one of the few plaques in the country devoted to fictional characters.
Widely considered to be Bowie's breakthrough album,Ziggy Stardust was released on 16 June 1972 in the UK.[b] An ambiguity surrounding Bowie's sexuality (even after Bowie declared himself as gay) and a performance of "Starman" on Top of the Pops brought public attention to the album. Indeed, the Top of the Pops performance helped to solidify Bowie as a controversial pop icon. In a 2010 interview in Rolling Stone, Bono said, "The first time I saw him was singing 'Starman' on television. It was like a creature falling from the sky. Americans put a man on the moon. We had our own British guy from space - with an Irish mother."
Ziggy Stardust entered the top 10 in its second week on the UK Albums Chart. In its first week, the album sold 8,000 copies in Britain.[a] After dropping down the chart in late 1972, the album began climbing the chart again; by the end of 1972, the album had sold 95,968 units in Britain.[a] It peaked at number 5 on the chart in February 1973. In the US, the album peaked at number 75 on the Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart in April 1973. It was eventually certified platinum and gold in the UK and US respectively. The first single from the album, "Starman", charted at number 10 in the UK while peaking at 65 in the US.
The album returned to the UK chart on 31 January 1981, amid the New Romantic era that Bowie had helped inspire. It was followed by a reissue of Aladdin Sane, which spent the first of 24 weeks on the chart in March 1982. After Bowie's death from cancer on 10 January 2016, the album reached a new peak of 21 in the US Billboard 200. It has sold an estimated 7.5 million copies worldwide, making it Bowie's second-best-selling album.
In promotion of Ziggy Stardust, Bowie began the Ziggy Stardust Tour. The first part of the tour started in the United Kingdom, and went from 29 January to 7 September 1972. A show at the Toby Jug pub in Tolworth on 10 February of the same year was hugely popular, catapulting him to stardom and creating, as described by David Buckley, a "cult of Bowie".
The tour lasted eighteen months, and passed through United States and Canada; it then continued to Japan, to promote his album Aladdin Sane (1973). Bowie announced the end of the tour on 3 July 1973, at the Hammersmith Apollo. It had had more than 170 gigs.
Notably, on October 20, 1972, Bowie performed a show in Santa Monica recorded for radio broadcast. The bootleg recording of the performance circulated among fans, and came to represent the beginning of Bowie's long love affair with America. It was officially issued in 2008 as Live Santa Monica '72.
|Christgau's Record Guide||B+|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Upon release, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars received highly favourable reviews by music critics. James Johnson of New Musical Express (NME) said the album has "a bit more pessimism" than on previous releases, and called the album's songs "fine". Michael Watts of Melody Maker published that, while Ziggy Stardust had "no well-defined story line", it had "odd songs and references to the business of being a pop star that overall add up to a strong sense of biographical drama." In Rolling Stone, writer Richard Cromelin gave the album a favourable review of "at least a 99" (assumed out of 100). But while Cromelin thought it was good, he felt that the record and its style might not be of lasting interest: "We should all say a brief prayer that his fortunes are not made to rise and fall with the fate of the 'drag-rock' syndrome".Circus wrote that the album is "from start to finish [...] of dazzling intensity and mad design", and called it a "stunning work of genius". The album was placed at the top of Creems end of year list.
Ziggy Stardust has been retrospectively acclaimed by critics, and recognised as one of the most important glam rock albums.Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote for AllMusic: "Bowie succeeds not in spite of his pretensions but because of them, and Ziggy Stardust - familiar in structure, but alien in performance - is the first time his vision and execution met in such a grand, sweeping fashion."Greg Kot, writing for Chicago Tribune, described the album as a "guitar-fueled song cycle", saying it "enacted the deaths of Joplin, Morrison, Hendrix and the '60s and presaged the dread, decadence and eroticism of a new era."
In 1987, as part of their 20th anniversary, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number 6 on "The 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years". In 1997, Ziggy Stardust was named the 20th greatest album of all time in a Music of the Millennium poll conducted in the UK. It was named the 35th best album ever made by Rolling Stone. In 2004, it was placed at number 81 in Pitchforks Top 100 Albums of the 1970s. In 2006, Q magazine readers placed it at number 41, In the same year, the album was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best albums of all time.
According to Acclaimed Music, a site which uses statistics to numerically represent reception among critics, Ziggy Stardust is the 16th most celebrated album of all time. The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. In 2013, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it 35th on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In March 2017, the album was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the United States National Recording Preservation Board, which designates it as a sound recording that has had significant cultural, historical, or aesthetic impact in American life.
The concept of Ziggy Stardust was revisited by Bowie himself in his later album Aladdin Sane (1973), which topped the UK chart, and was his first number-one album. Described by Bowie as "Ziggy goes to America", it contained songs he wrote while travelling to and across the US during the earlier part of the Ziggy tour.
In 2004, Brazilian singer Seu Jorge contributed five cover versions of Bowie songs, three of them from Ziggy Stardust, to the soundtrack for the film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Seu Jorge would later re-record the songs as a solo album called The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions. On the album's liner notes, Bowie wrote "Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with". In 2016, Seu Jorge toured performing his Portuguese covers of Bowie's songs in front of sailboat-shaped screens.
Musician Saul Williams named his 2007 album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!, a play on the title of Bowie's album.
The album was covered as part of rock band Phish's Halloween 'musical costume' on 31 October 2016. In June 2017, an extinct species of wasp was named Archaeoteleia astropulvis after Ziggy Stardust ("astropulvis" is Latin for "stardust").
D. A. Pennebaker directed a documentary and concert film featuring Bowie and the Spiders from Mars performing in the final Ziggy Stardust Tour, at the Hammersmith Odeon, London on 3 July 1973. At this show, Bowie made the sudden surprise announcement that the show would be "the last show that we'll ever do", later understood to mean that he was retiring his Ziggy Stardust persona.
The full-length 90-minute film spent years in post-production before finally having its theatrical premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival, on 31 August 1979. Prior to the premiere, the 35 mm film had been shown in 16 mm format a few times, mostly in United States college towns. A shortened 60-minute version was broadcast once in the US on ABC-TV in October 1974. In 1983, the film was released to theatres worldwide, corresponding with the release of its soundtrack album entitled Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture. A digitally remastered 30th Anniversary Edition DVD, including additional material from the live show and extras, was released in 2003.
All tracks written by David Bowie, except where noted.
|5.||"It Ain't Easy" (Ron Davies)||2:58|
|8.||"Hang On to Yourself"||2:40|
|11.||"Rock 'n' Roll Suicide"||2:58|
Dr. Toby Mountain remastered Ziggy at Northeastern Digital Recording, Southborough, Massachusetts, from the original master tapes for Rykodisc. The reissue was released on 6 June 1990, with five bonus tracks:
On 16 July 2002, a 2-disc version was released by EMI/Virgin. The first in a series of 30th Anniversary 2CD Editions, this release included a newly remastered version as its first CD. The remaster on this edition reverses the left and right stereo channels on the first disc and many of the songs have been edited. Among other things, the three-note bridge between "Ziggy Stardust" and "Suffragette City", and the count-in to "Hang On to Yourself" are missing.
The second disc contains twelve tracks, most of which had been previously released on CD as bonus tracks of the 1990-92 reissues. The new mix of "Moonage Daydream" was originally done for a 1998 Dunlop television commercial. The bonus tracks:
All tracks written by David Bowie, except as noted.
The 2012 remaster was made available on CD and on a special, limited edition format of vinyl and DVD, featuring the new remaster on an LP, together with 2003 remixes of the album by Ken Scott (5.1 and stereo mixes) on DVD-Audio. The latter included bonus 2003 Ken Scott mixes of "Moonage Daydream" (instrumental), "The Supermen", "Velvet Goldmine" and "Sweet Head".
On September 25, 2015, the 2012 remaster of the album and the 2003 remix (stereo mix) were both included in the Parlophone box set Five Years 1969-1973. The album, in its 2012 remastering, was also rereleased separately, in 2015-2016, in CD, vinyl, and digital formats, with Parlophone releasing the separate LP on February 26, 2016 on 180g vinyl.
On June 16, 2017, Parlophone reissued the album as a limited edition LP pressed on gold vinyl.
Credits adapted from AllMusic.
|1972||UK Albums Chart||5|
|1973||US Billboard 200||75|
|2016||US Billboard 200||21|
|US Top Catalog Albums (Billboard)||3|
|2018||Greek Albums Chart||32|
|1972||"Starman"||UK Singles Chart||10|
|Billboard Pop Singles||65|
|1974||"Rock 'n' Roll Suicide"||UK Singles Chart||22|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||2× Platinum||1,500,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||$1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone