Sunday, January 01, 2017

David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

Bowie's breakthrough album, 1972's Ziggy Stardust it a loose concept album about a androgynous alien rockstar who lands on earth five years away from the end of the world, here forming a rock and roll band. The released album was both a critical and public success and was his first No.1 album. But it as well spawned a lot of outtakes, some of them even growing as fan favourites, such as "Velvet Goldmine". And his follow-up album, the equally great Alladin Sane (a pun on "A Lad Insane") was considered by the fans and Bowie himself as somewhat of a part two for the Ziggy album, "Ziggy goes to America", with at least half of the songs fitting the Ziggy theme. But by 1973, it seems, he was pretty fed up with the whole affair, retiring "in character" during the last night of the '73 tour, in the Royal Albert Hall, and releasing Pin Ups, a cover album with some of his favourite music. But even though the character had retired, Bowie hadn't given up on him, working thru 1974 in a musical version of the story, writing two songs for the project: "Rock and Roll With Me" and "Rebel Rebel", that later ended up on Diamond Dogs. So we know that there were loads of unused material in the making of the album, maybe even enough to fill two vinyl discs. Can we do it, expanding the story, whilst at the same time not losing the concept tying it all up? Let's see.
I'll use the main album as a basis for it, so there won't be any crazy changes to the main tracklist, it starts with "Five Years" and ends with "Rock and Roll Suicide". The only thing I will change from the original album is excluding "It Ain't Easy", since it was recorded during Hunky Dory and is kind of trowaway. The other ten songs will be there. From original album outtakes, we have six songs, that will all be included, at least one in each side, with two covers included. As I mentioned earlier, about half of Alladin Sane was usable, and I decided on: "Watch that Man", "Alladin Sane", "Cracked Actor", "Time" and "The Jean Genie", since they all somewhat fit into the Ziggy story, both in their lyrics and sound. Also included will be his take on a song he gave up to Mott the Hoople, "All The Young Dudes", it being almost consensually with Bowie fans a part of the concept. The last two additions are the 1974 musical songs, "Rebel Rebel" and "Rock and Roll With Me", totalling 24 songs and one hour and a half of music. All that's left is to sequence it in a way that makes sense. And here's my take on it:

Side A
  1. Five Years
  2. Soul Love
  3. Cracked Actor
  4. Port of Amsterdam
  5. Rock N' Roll Star
  6. Moonage Daydream
Side B
  1. All the Young Dudes
  2. Starman
  3. Hang onto Yourself
  4. Lady Stardust
  5. Round and Round
  6. Alladin Sane
Side C
  1. Watch that Man
  2. Sweet Head
  3. John, I'm Only Dancing
  4. Rebel Rebel
  5. Velvet Goldmine
  6. Ziggy Stardust
Side D
  1. Time
  2. Holy Holy
  3. Rock and Roll With Me
  4. The Jean Genie
  5. Sufragette City
  6. Rock N' Roll Suicide
It begins in the same dramatic way as the released version, with "Five Years" and "Soul Love", followed by "Cracked Actor", telling the story of a star looking after a hummer. The first outtake is "Port of Amsterdam", a Jaques Brel cover, with vocals and acoustic guitar only, as well as "Star" (given here it's original title) and "Moonage Daydream". Side B begins with his version of "All the Young Dudes" and "Starman", swapped places with "Star" due to time constraints. "Hang onto Yourself", the usual show opener during the tour, comes next, followed by "Lady Stardust", dedicated to Marc Bolan, and his cover of Chuck Berry's "Around and Around". The side closer is "Alladin Sane", maybe the song that more directly deals about Ziggy from the follow-up. Disc two begins with AS's Watch that Man, about apparently a great party, and is followed by "Sweet Head" and "John I'm Only Dancing", two of the outtakes. The first musical song, "Rebel Rebel", deals with Ziggy's androgyny, and is followed by yet another outtake, fan favourite "Velvet Goldmine", and the side closes with the album's title track, "Ziggy Stardust".
Mike Garson's time to shine, "Time" is a great piano ballad dealing with about the same thing as "Five Years", as well as outtake "Holy Holy", and the second and last 1974 song, "Rock and Roll with Me". "The Jean Genie" was recorded during the first leg of the Ziggy tour, and is followed by the last two songs, "Sufraggette City", and ambiguous ending of "Rock and Roll Suicide", telling us all we're not alone. The position of tracks of the outtakes are based on the early 1971 sequences planned by himself, and the  other songs are positioned by either personal taste or similar themes to songs near. There were some painful exclusions, notably "Drive-In Saturday" and "My Death", the first because it didn't fit in that well, and the second due to the lack of time, and the second due to the lack of a studio version (itwas to appear in the place of "Alladin Sane"). but even though, it came out pretty good, and I like it very much. As I had said with my "Bricks on the Wall", it is more overblown, and even maybe too long, but as a experiment at telling the whole story it serves that purpous perfectly, and I personally prefer listening to this version of the album than the single disc version. All the album sides have about 22 minutes in lenght, totalling 90 minutes, and we can even add the unused songs ("Drive In Saturday" and "It Ain't Easy") as single B-Sides, using all songs available. Any thoughts? Suggestions, critic, all is welcome. Feel free to make any changes you wish, and see you next post!


- The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (30th Anniversary Edition)
- Alladin Sane
- Diamond Dogs
- RarestOneBowie (compilation)