At some point during my high school years I came upon my parents’ collection of vinyl tucked away in a closet. So I did what any young man in my situation would do: I went to the flea market and bought a record player. I can’t remember all of the titles but there were about a dozen. The Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack, Deep Purple’s Purple Passages, Alice Cooper’s From the Inside, Space Oddity, The Door’s LA Woman and a CCR Greatest Hits. A few were just sleeves with no records inside. At the time I was really disappointing to not be able to listen to Lace & Whiskey or Diamond Dogs, but they did make cool wall art.
Of course I can still remember my favorite of my parents’ old record: Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I listened to that album all the time. My high school years consisted mostly of smoking pot and listening to that album. But I also spent a lot of time listening to my second favorite of those albums: Ziggy Stardust.
When it comes to David Bowie I’m more of a greatest hits fan than a hardcore fan. Changesbowie was replaced in my collection only recently by the 2 disc Best of Bowie. And honestly, I could do without a few of the big hits. I’ve never been too keen on “Fashion” or “Let’s Dance.” I’ve listened to a few of his albums (Hunky Dory, Station to Station, Heathen) but never felt the need to buy any. Except for Ziggy Stardust. Something about that album has always spoken to me on some Sci-Fi nerd level.
I’m guessing most of my interest has to do with the Sci-Fi connection. That’s probably part of my interest in Fear Factory and GWAR too, but Bowie managed to mix that imagery and persona with really good pop rock music. It’s like if Captain Kirk were a rock star (and not just a pretend one like William Shatner).
“Five Years” has to be one of the best openers I’ve ever heard. Something about the way the piano chimes in and then builds up to the ‘Five Years, my brain hurts a lot’ pumps me up and gets me excited for the rest of the album. “Moonage Daydream” is my favorite love song ever. I’ll know if I ever meet the right girl because she’ll agree to have this be the song we first dance to at our wedding. I always think of the John Carpenter/Jeff Bridges film of the same name when I hear “Starman,” though neither has anything to do with the other. Boy that’s a catchy feel good tune though. It’s crazy to think that it’s still popular enough to make an appearance in a big budget movie like The Martian.
I find it weird that the concept album includes a cover. I’ve never seen that before, but “It Ain’t Easy” is a good side closer and who am I to question Bowie?
I quickly discovered that the cool thing about vinyl was listening to one side over and over without having to rewind like a cassette tape. I listened to side two much more than one. This is one of the few albums I know of that ends stronger than it begins. “Lady Stardust” is a good side opener. It has a nice mellow vibe to lull me in and get me unconsciously singing along so my coworkers start laughing at me. The title track is the best of this side. I love that main guitar riff and Mick Ronson’s lead work over the bare acoustic track is magical. Very few guitar players could come up with something that great.
I’ve never understood where “Suffragette City” fit in with the story. Maybe I should look into the lyrics a little deeper. And how can you end any better than “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.” That’s an album closer if I ever heard one. The only problem with it is how much it leaves me wanting more. I’m listening to Diamond Dogs as I type this and I think that’s about as good as I’m going to get.
One of the coolest things about Ziggy Stardust is that while I’ve heard the album on Vinyl, CD and digital it always sounds the same. I’m not sure If I’ve just never heard a remastered version or it the grooves and pops are so embedded in my mind that I can’t hear it any other way.
The good thing is, that I don’t really want to hear it any other way.