Monday, 17 July 2017

david bowie : ziggy stardust
david bowie
the rise and fall of ziggy stardust and the spiders from mars
rca international
INTK 5063

Ziggy Stardust was released in 1972. At that time I acquired, first of all, a long since lost cassette tape copy. I bought it where I usually bought tapes at that period from a small shop in Glasgow called Casa Cassettes; which I think was in Jamaica Street near Glasgow Bridge. It would be around that time or maybe a wee bit earlier that the first Virgin Records record shop opened: a scummy, hippy hangout near Central Station. Anyhow, I did eventually get a vinyl copy. This tape version in the pic above dates from 1980. I imagine that I picked it up at some car boot sale a few years ago. Though the j-card is a tiny bit soiled the tape still plays perfectly well.


Ziggy Stardust was my first real introduction to David Bowie as I wasn't really aware of his recordings apart from the Space Oddity single which my mother had bought when it was released. Of course, what really initiated my interest in Bowie had been the Starman single as well as his outrageous appearance with his band on the Top of the Pops BBC TV show in July, 1972. As far as music goes that Summer was a great one. First we had Bowie's Starman, then Mott The Hoople's All The Young Dudes (a Bowie song) followed in August by Roxy Music's debut, the utterly stunning Virginia Plain single, and Lou Reed's Transformer album the same month. All stone cold classics and defining moments in my interest in music. Mott the Hoople apart, all three others became the foundation of my record collection for a long time and indeed still are today.

Bowie's Ziggy Stardust set me off on a quest for his other releases. His earlier albums aren't as good but, in my opinion, Hunky Dory is far superior and remains probably my favourite Bowie album to this day. Needless to say, up until his untimely death in january 2016 and the release of Blackstar, the seventies were Bowie's best years.

In that decade, a whole spate of his best recordings were released: Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Heroes, Low, Station To Station, The Lodger, Diamond Dogs. A decade of quality releases that Bowie never quite succeeded in reproducing over the next 36 years of his career. That is until his swansong; the brilliant Blackstar released only a couple of days before his passing.
On his death I recall endlessly hearing the Let's Dance single on radio and TV as if it had been the only thing that he'd ever recorded. The same-titled LP might well have been Bowie's biggest-selling album but I imagine that any die-hard Bowie fan would agree with me that it certainly wasn't his best.

Still, even the lowpoints in his career stand above most of the dross that made up the mainstream charts over the years. On the other hand though, I always liked Lou Reed; whom I'd discovered through Bowie, more
than I ever did The Thin White Duke. But that's another story.

Album artwork : Terry Pastor
Album photography : Brian Ward

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