49 Years Ago, David Bowie released the GREATEST album of all time… ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’

Words: Dan Smith

Now before we get into this, a little disclaimer that this is my favourite album of all time, featuring three of, in my opinion, the greatest songs ever written. So, although sometimes I may sit on the fence in my reviews, this will be only be full of praise – and rightly so.

Is there a more complete concept album out there? You could argue ‘Sgt. Peppers’ from The Beatles, a brave man may say ‘Tranquility Base’ from Arctic Monkeys, but a wise man will know it is ‘Ziggy Stardust’. The album, telling the story of a bisexual alien rockstar who goes by the name Ziggy Stardust has consistently been considered one of the greatest albums of all time, still being discussed 49 years later.

Featuring some of Bowie’s greatest hits, where do I even begin when discussing the songs on the album? Well, best to start at the beginning, with ‘Five Years‘. This is a song well documented on Talk Tonight, and tells the conceptual story of how people would behave if they only had five years left to live, thus giving us the theme of the album. This song just gives you the feeling of pure euphoria.

I won’t go track by track, but the opening four tracks are arguably four of the best Bowie ever wrote, so to be back to back on an album is testament to the genius. ‘Five Years’ is followed up swiftly by ‘Soul Love’, a song with incredible guitar from Mick Ronson and an elegant sax solo from the man himself. Although rarely played live, the song follows up ‘Five Years’ detailing how the characters deal with love and loss in those final years before the impending disaster.

After this, we have ‘Moonage Daydream’. One of the most popular tracks on the album, since the death of David Bowie it has been covered by several bands live, one of those being The Last Shadow Puppets. Documented as the Spiders from Mars’ favourite song to play live as it ‘got the kids going’, the track was written a year earlier when Bowie was in the height of his cocaine addiction as a side project, and without being re-recorded with the Spiders from Mars it is likely the song would have gone unnoticed. Fortunately for us, it hasn’t been.

And then we have ‘Starman’. Four tracks in and the levels are astronomical. I can’t say much more about ‘Starman’ than what has already been said. According to Bowie, Ziggy Stardust isn’t the ‘Starman’ though, merely his messenger who tries to spread hope and happiness through the youth in those final five years.

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Honestly, I could go on and on about the true genius behind every single lyric on the album, but I won’t. You need to listen to this today all the way through and then again and again and again and each time you will still pick up on something you missed.

With 11 tracks on the album, coming in at just under 40 minutes, this will be the best 40 minutes you spend this week. I’d like to end this by discussing the final track on the album, ‘Rock n’ Roll Suicide’.

Despite having suicide in the title, the song isn’t discussing the particular death of the Ziggy Stardust character. The use of suicidal imagery is used to describe how the music took Ziggy’s life, whilst offering out hope to those who may be feeling suicidal at the same time. Incredible, I know.

The lyrics reach out to those who are depressed and possibly on the verge of suicide with ‘no, love, you’re not alone’, Bowie’s way of offering out a hand through the use of his music. Also blending this in with the theme of Ziggy Stardust, we are coming towards the end of the five years. The use of acoustic guitar early on creates a somber feel around the track, mixed in with thought provoking lyrics. The true meaning of this track is disputed, but the most popular fan theory is that Ziggy has nothing by the end of the album, as he gave everything to Rock n’ Roll.

The end of the album, the end of the band, the end of the world.

And that is that. WHAT AN ALBUM. I haven’t even covered tracks like ‘Lady Stardust’ and ‘Ziggy Stardust’ but believe me, every song on this album holds its own.

Let us know which track is your favourite in the comments below!

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