The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust - RCA 1972
Bowie's backing band from the his previous and equally excellent albums "The Man Who Sold the Year" and "Hunky Dory" is intact with Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey as "The Spiders From Mars."
The album opens in the best "Life From Mars" style with the magnificent " Five Years ". Bowie is vocally extraordinary convincing on "Soul Love" - great chorus.
"Moonage Daydream" is at the same simple and grandiose - with strings, flute, acoustic guitar and a lead guitar in the best Robin Trower style. "Starman" is reminiscent of "Space Oddity" and the biggest single hit taken from the album. Incredibly catchy.
For quite a long time I felt the cover-version of "It Is not Easy" was a little out of place - yes, the number stands out from the others, but it has now become one of my favorites. Both bluesy and soulful.
"Lady Stardust" is another magnificent ballad which like "Five Years" has a lot in common with "Life From Mars". More light-hearted are "Star" and "Hang on to Yourself" - both classic rock and roll.
The title-track "Ziggy Stardust" is another of the album's most haunting songs - especially the intro guitar riff will stick with you. "Suffragette City" could have been a Mott the Hoople "if it were not for Bowie's fantastic vocals. The album's magnificent and tragic end-song is "Rock'n Roll Suicide" - great melody and superb build-up.
Among the bonus tracks you'll find the B-sides "John I'm Only Dancing" and "Velvet Goldmine". The former sounds more like a "Alladin Sane" song rather than a "Ziggy" number - musically not one of Bowie's most memorable songs. "Velvet Goldmine" sounds a lot like a "Ziggy" number, and the song dates from these sessions. "Sweet Head" is a rock 'n roll outtake with controversal lyrics. The two final numbers are Bowie's own lo-fi demos of the two "Stardust" songs. Interesting but not essential.