Category: David Bowie

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

ARTIST: David Bowie                      220px-ZiggyStardust

TITLE: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #21 US, #5 UK

SINGLES: Starman (#65 US, #10 UK), Rock and Roll Suicide (#22 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Lady Stardust, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City

LINEUP: David Bowie, Mick Robnson, Trevor Bolder, Mick Woodmansey. Rick Wakeman played on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A cultural touchstone of the glam movement and an influence to punk and art-rock for 70’s kids in the UK.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sure, a dystopian concept album had been done before, and an album where music was going to save the kids had been done before. Also, albums done as a ‘character’ had been done before. Why was this such a success?

In short, the music, lyrics, and total commitment by Bowie to the Ziggy Stardust persona and the theme, which was intentional, or perhaps serendipity. Ziggy also spoke to disaffected, questioning youth everywhere. His clothes, his sexuality, everything. It spoke to those kids.

This is Bowie maturing as a songwriter and hitting the right note with everything on the record. The riffs, tones, and arrangements are on point. Even the cover song, “It Ain’t Easy”, fit right in. Today, the record can still speak to everyone, and that in itself is remarkable.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It was said that Ziggy was influenced by Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, and some others, like Vince Taylor

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some outtakes and B-sides (like “Velvet Goldmine”) and a stand alone single “John, I’m Only Dancing (#12 UK)

 GRADE A+: It’s Bowie’s best and it still resonates.

David Bowie – Hunky Dory

ARTIST: David Bowie                   David_Bowie_-_Hunky_Dory

TITLE:  Hunky Dory

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #57 US, #3 UK

SINGLES: Changes (#41 US, #49 UK), Life on Mars (#3 UK, released in 1973)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh! You Pretty Things, Queen Bitch

LINEUP: David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Rick Wakeman, Trevor Bolder, Mick Woodmansey

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Bowie-mania strikes the UK as this album starts the frenzy and the saga of Bowie as a cultural icon.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: At first, the single “Changes” didn’t chart very well (who knows why), but this album took the UK by storm (the hipper parts of the UK, really) and he really became BOWIE on the back of that track, and “Oh! You Pretty Things”, “Queen Bitch” and “Andy Warhol”.

Rick Wakeman’s piano and keyboards shine through most of the tracks here as his playing adds the right feeling and mood for each song. These tracks aren’t dominated by Ronson’s guitar, but the keyboard and the orchestration and acoustic guitar. However, Ronson kicks it in during “Queen Bitch” which save the title could have been a smash.

It’s a well thought out album, not full-on rock, but reflective at its core. I can see why many in the UK took to this.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Queen Bitch” is a homage to the Velvet Underground, while “Kooks” was written for his son.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a couple of spare tracks and demos

GRADE: A: You may not know many of the songs in the middle, but the writing and arrangements are strong, and well, it’s Bowie at the controls.

David Bowie – The Man Who Sold the World

ARTIST: David Bowie         TheManWhoSoldtheWorld

TITLE: The Man Who Sold the World

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #105 US, #26 UK

SINGLES: None! All the Madmen was a promo single issued in 1971, but not released to retail.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The title track is about it for anything on radio recently.

LINEUP: David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Tony Visconti, Mick Woodmansey, Ralph Mace

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Bowie gathers together the group that would propel him to fame and fortune and also releases a batch of songs that are a vast improvement over most everything he’s done before.

 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Goodbye pastoral folkie; hello glam rock royalty. This album takes off not from the song Space Oddity but from that albums Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed with its hard driving guitars and vocal snarl. That coupled with a much better batch of songs makes this where casual fans really want to start with Bowie.

The record starts strong with the Width of a Circle, an eight-minute long journey, and continues through some favorites like Black Country Rock, All the Madmen, and She Shook Me Cold until it climaxes with the title cut. The band and Bowie are tight and focused throughout. Radio missed the boat on this one.

A few of the tracks lack the energy of the best ones, but it’s still a solid listen cover-to-cover.

NOTES & MINUTAE: Visconti and Ronson arranged a lot of the record as Bowie as busy canoodling with his new wife Angie.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  No. It seems logical because of the singles released at the time between Space Oddity and this record – but they’re on the Sound & Vision box set.
GRADE: A-: This is where the Bowie journey really starts.

David Bowie – Space Oddity

ARTIST: David Bowie 220px-DavidBowiePhilips
TITLE: Space Oddity (a/k/a David Bowie a/k/a Man of Words, Man of Music)
YEAR RELEASED: 1969
CHART ACTION: #16 US, #17 UK
SINGLES: Space Oddity (#15 US, #1 UK), Memory of a Free Festival
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only if you’re a Bowie-phile
LINEUP: David Bowie, Rick Wakeman, Tony Visconti, Herbie Flowers, and other session players.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a winding journey through various music styles in the 60’s, Bowie releases the song and album that start his career as David Bowie.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I didn’t even try to review Bowie’s mid-60’s output, but of course I started here. Everyone knows “Space Oddity” and it definitely is David Bowie, front and center.

The album they put around it, though? Well, “Unwashed and Somewhat Slighty Dazed” is just as great as the single, and the rest of the first side is pretty on-point. That second side, though, it’s just not good. Bland folky and hippy dippy music of the nth degree.

This is definitely the picture of an artist trying to find a voice, and finding it partially. He’d REALLY become David Bowie in a year or so. File-Bowie-spaceoddity

NOTES & MINUTAE: The cuts are the same in the US and UK, but they had different titles for some reason (and what’s more confusing is that in 1967 there was a David Bowie album released on Deram in the UK). Then in 1972, they just renamed it Space Oddity.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, but not streaming.

GRADE: B-: That first side makes the album a keeper (that and the face that a mainly complete Bowie collection is a good thing…)