David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (40th Anniversary remaster)
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 through RCA Records. It was co-produced by Bowie and Ken Scott and features Bowie’s backing band the Spiders from Mars, composed of Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, and Mick Woodmansey. Most of the songs were written about the same time that Bowie’s previous album Hunky Dory (1971) was written. After Hunky Dory was completed, recording for Ziggy Stardust began in November 1971 at Trident Studios in London; further sessions were held in early February 1972.
Described as a loose concept album and rock opera, Ziggy Stardust is about Bowie’s titular alter ego Ziggy Stardust, a fictional androgynous and bisexual rock star who is sent to Earth as a saviour before an impending apocalyptic disaster. In the story, Ziggy wins the hearts of fans but suffers a fall from grace after succumbing to his own ego. The character was inspired by numerous musicians, including singers Vince Taylor and Iggy Pop. Most of the album’s concept was developed after the songs were recorded. The glam rock and proto-punk musical styles were influenced by Pop, the Velvet Underground, and Marc Bolan of T. Rex while the lyrics discuss the artificiality of rock music, political issues, drug use, sexual orientation, and stardom. The album cover, photographed in monochrome and recoloured, was taken in London outside the home of furriers “K. West”.
Preceded by the single “Starman“, Ziggy Stardust peaked at number 5 in the UK and number 75 in the United States. It initially received favourable reviews from music critics; some praised the musicality and concept while others were unable to comprehend it. Shortly after its release, Bowie performed “Starman” on Britain’s Top of the Pops in early July 1972, which propelled him to stardom. The Ziggy character was retained for the subsequent Ziggy Stardust Tour, leaving Bowie unable to differentiate between Ziggy and himself. Not wanting Ziggy to define him, Bowie created a new character for his next album Aladdin Sane (1973), which Bowie described as “Ziggy goes to America”. Performances from the tour were later released on a concert film of the same name with an accompanying live album (1983) and Live Santa Monica ’72 (2008).
Retrospectively Ziggy Stardust is considered one of Bowie’s best works and has appeared on numerous lists of the greatest albums of all time. Bowie had ideas for a musical based on the album, although this project never came to fruition; ideas were later used for Diamond Dogs (1974). Ziggy Stardust has been reissued several times and was remastered in 2012 for its 40th anniversary. In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry, being deemed “culturally, historically, or artistically significant” by the Library of Congress.
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