Continuing my list, we move from David Bowie’s early albums to the ones that made him, justifiably, very famous. First up is the album many consider David Bowie’s masterpiece:
In 1972 David Bowie released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars. It was a concept album whose underlying story was the rise and eventual fall of a fictional music superstar. As many have noted, it could well have been David Bowie willing himself to superstardom. Focusing on this album, I’m presented with a genuine problem. Given I’m looking back at Mr. Bowie’s albums and taking one song I consider the “best” of the particular album and one that is a close runner up, with Ziggy Stardust there are just so many great songs. How to chose one as your favorite and one as your second favorite? To me, its far easier to pick the one song I think is my least favorite on the album (the cover of Ron Davies’ It Ain’t Easy, while not a terrible song, is simply not as strong as the other songs on this album, IMHO).
Ok, enough quibbling. What is my favorite song on Ziggy Stardust? At this point in time, it may well be Lady Stardust.
There’s something magical about this song, which focuses on a star struck fan’s reaction to the Ziggy Stardust “show”. Yes, there are definite homosexual overtones, but idol worship has never been presented in such a startling, heartbreaking fashion.
My runner up? Again a very hard choice. And, again, at this time I’ll go with Rock and Roll Suicide.
Another very touching song. Despite its depressing sounding title, the song is uplifting, encouraging. A great, great conclusion to an equally great album.
Following the smash success of Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie’s followed it up with Aladdin Sane, an album more than one critic noted was “Ziggy Stardust goes to America”. While this album wasn’t quite as good from start to end as Ziggy Stardust, it is nonetheless one of my all time favorite Bowie albums. Two songs stick out. First, the incredible Panic In Detroit.
My runner up favorite is the album’s final song, the mesmerizing Lady Grinning Soul.
Pin Ups, an album composed entirely of covers of songs, proved to be the last full album David Bowie would do with guitarist Mick Ronson and the rest of the “Spiders From Mars”. There are many who consider this an inferior work, given that it is composed of covers and features absolutely no new David Bowie material. I’m on the fence with the album. I think there are some great tunes there, particularly Sorrow.
Runner up? How about a cover of Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play?
Having moved on from the “Spiders From Mars”, David Bowie decided his next album would be another rock “opera”, this one telling the story of George Orwell’s famous novel 1984. However, Mr. Orwell’s widow refused to allow his work be used, thus David Bowie had to switch gears and released, in 1973, what would be his “glam rock” swan song, Diamond Dogs. While there remained two songs that were obviously inspired by 1984, the album had enough other material, I suppose, to avoid a lawsuit. My favorite song on this album is one of David Bowie’s absolutely best rockers, a song that features Mr. Bowie himself on guitar! The song? Rebel Rebel.
I’m going to cheat with my second favorite track from this album. For this song was never a part of the original album’s release. In fact, this song languished in the vaults unheard until a special edition of Diamond Dogs was released on CD in 1990. But it is so damn good. Behold…the alternate version of Candidate.
Next up: Soul and the Berlin trilogy