The 40th anniversary of David Bowie‘s breakthrough album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars has been reached this year, and to celebrate this, there is a free stream of the entire album to listen to below, AND there will be a full scale special re-release of the album on CD, MP3, and limited edition vinyl formats on June 5th.
The album, which propelled Bowie into mythical status, stands as one of rock and roll’s all time great albums. Bowie, who had rotated his way around the musical landscape for a few years prior to this with a few releases and even a hit in “Space Oddity,” finally hit the jackpot with Ziggy Stardust. The album, a concept one which tells the tale of an alien mired in androgyny who fell to Earth with a hopeful rock and roll message and became a rock star of superstar proportions that would also happen to Bowie in real life as a result of the album in an amazing case of art imitates life, is almost a roadmap for glam and early punk and hard rock sounds. Bowie was hinting at this sound on earlier albums, “The Width of A Circle” on The Man Who Sold the World and “Queen Bitch” on Hunky Dory, but on Ziggy Stardust, the sound became fully realized, the attitudes and style he was carving and carving finally came to whirlwind musical fruitions. Not only did the album put Bowie in a higher musical echelon, it also almost singlehandedly started the entire glam movement, a movement started in a way by Marc Bolan and T-Rex, who certainly was the Chuck Berry to Bowie’s Rolling Stone glam, but Bowie had the superstar power and muscle to put him over the top and arguably become the sole heir of the glam rock mantle with this release.
Although the album originally didn’t make much of a dent on the U.S. charts (it peaked at #75 on the Billboard charts upon its original release yet fared better in England capping off at #5), the cult was strong, the fanbase immensely and intensely loyal and as the decades passed, the album became a cornerstone of influence for many, many bands who followed, from punk to new wave to post punk, to second generation glam, and even grunge and contemporary hard rock and made many critics’ all-time top ten lists, something it continues to do to this day.
The 11 songs on Ziggy Stardust remain a treasure trove of eclectic and jarring sounds, a wonderful patchwork musical quilt of sublime and jarring hard rockers (all which showcase the incomparable late, great Mick Ronson on guitar, piano, and strings). There’s so much musical awe to take in here, from the opening sturdy beat of “Five Years” to “Soul Love” to the Clockwork Orange shades on “Moonage Daydream”; the cabaret on amphetamines turns of “Lady Stardust”; the out and out riff driven “Hang on to Yourself”; the early 1950s sounds turned inside out on “Rock and Roll Suicide” and finally of course, the radio friendly, oft played and always welcomed and all-time great songs in “Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City,” and “Starman.”
The June 5th reissue of Ziggy Stardust will include all the original 11 tracks with remastered audio. Whether you are listening to this seminal release for the first or five hundredth time, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars remains an historic piece of musical rock and roll which not only stands the test of time, but also celebrated some its past and acted as a portent for it’s future, DURING its time. As Ziggy/Bowie sings on Starman, “Let all the children boogie.” Indeed.