David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (30th Anniversary 2CD Edition) (539 8262) (2002) Moonage Daydream – The Life and Times of Ziggy Stardust (Cassell Illustrated) (2005)

SAM_1604A David Bowie CD drought existed in the late 80s after RCA let them go out of print and before Ryko had re-issued them.  I was working at Readmor (sic) Books in downtown Columbus at the time and daily I would see Starman comics. With Pavlovian predictability, I would sing (to myself) the “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”-style octave-straddling hook from the like-titled Bowie hit and fruitlessly resolve to buy it. But it was an itch I couldn’t scratch and Ziggy’s unavailability made him all the more desirable. A commercially shrewd move, for when Ryko did eventually re-release them (with bonus tracks!), I bought the lot in a pent-up consumerist frenzy.

I still have those editions and while their then state-of-the-art packaging, a major selling point 20+ years ago, is no great shakes, they still sound good to me and several of the bonus tracks are available nowhere else. Nonetheless, when this especially nice version of Ziggy presented itself a year or so ago at a tabletop sale in the local Methodist Church I leapt.

SAM_1605Included in the 30th Anniversary copy was ephemera plugging the deluxe edition of Bowie’s and Mick Rock’s quite wonderful Moonage Daydream, a photographic recapitulation of the Ziggy era. I tend to hang on to such googahs, especially if they don’t take up too much room. When I pull a record (or CD) off the shelf, often one of these things will fall out to enrich and personalise the experience–as likely as not I’d forgotten it was there. SAM_1606“There was a distinct feeling that ‘nothing was true’ anymore and that the future was not as clear-cut as it had seemed. Nor, for that matter, was the past. Therefore, everything was up for grabs. If we needed any truths we could construct them ourselves. The main platform would be, other that shoes, ‘We are the future , now.’ And the one way celebrating that was to create it by the only means at our disposal. With, of course, a rock’n’roll band.” — DAVID BOWIESAM_1603Alas, I did not find the limited, signed Genesis copy of Moonage Daydream for £2 at a boot fair in Newquay, but I did get this regular version there. The Psueds Corner-baiting epigram on the back of the book (cited above) sets a tone of heavy pretension and self-seriousness that permeates the tiresome, ersatz music criticism most often heard these days on lightweight radio and TV shows examining works in the official canon of best-albums-in-the-history-of-the-world-ever. I certainly don’t need anyone from Spandau Ballet telling me how seeing Bowie fellate Mick Ronson on TOTP changed his life. Nonetheless, Moonage Daydream demonstrates the thought and effort that went into creating Ziggy. With hindsight, it was a watershed and a model in this regard.

Ultimately though, it’s the music which sells the character, not the other way around, and late last night, as Mrs Asbo and I, merry and slightly weary, tidied up after a pleasant but extended dinner party, the noise of the Spiders From Mars, played at “Maximum Volume” as rich, glorious and catchy as ever it had been, inspired me.

Published in: on August 16, 2013 at 9:03 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. by coincidence, yesterday i was having a discussion with someone i know over what original (i.e. non-comp, non-live) bowie album i would choose if i could have only one. my favourite era for bowie ranges from the mid 70’s (“young americans”) to the early 80’s (“scary monsters”) so “ziggy stardust” was never in the frame anyway, but i decided to stick with what i always thought his most consistent album: “station to station”… though even that has a couple of duffers on it!

  2. Might have to agree with you, but it would be a hard choice!

  3. Cool finds – I’d definitely like to pick up a copy of the Mick Rock book myself (bit pricey on Amazon these days though!) I’ve got his Stooges book, which is pretty cool.

    Regarding the 1980’s Bowie CD ‘drought’, RCA didn’t actually “let them go out of print” per se, rather they were forced to withdraw them all after legal action from the man himself. Bowie simply pointed out that his contract with them did not include the rights to release them on the CD format and the ‘drought’ ensued. The vinyl went out of print shortly after that too, making collecting his catalogue a bit of a pain at the time.

    I will second ‘Station To Station’ as my favourite Bowie LP (no duffers on there for me though), with ‘Man Who Sold The World’ and ‘Ziggy’ close second and third.

    • I’m surprised this didn’t happen more often, a “drought” that is, when artists reclaimed their work. Could be that DB was just that bit more on the ball/agressive about it. Thanks for the clarification.

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