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Aural Pleasure Review

David Bowie: 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars'

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"We've got five years." With that haunting refrain, a young David Bowie sets the scene — and the world-ending stakes — for his conceptual rock fantasy. Epic in scope and reeling with vivid imagery, Ziggy is still powerful — and fun — 40 years after he inspired kids everywhere to go glam. This new remaster adds spectacular clarity and depth to the mix — like watching a favorite movie on Blu-ray for the first time. Originally envisioned as one part of a multimedia story about the titular space-rock prophet, Ziggy sounds like a soundtrack to a movie never filmed, but is far from feeling incomplete. In fact, the music gains power from letting the listener fill in the blanks on their own (or with the aid of psychotropic drugs). Like in a one-man off-Broadway show, Bowie effortlessly slides into the voices (and occasional spandex catsuit) of the characters in his story. There's the lonely, lovesick narrator of "Soul Love," the wide-eyed kid learning about the "Starman" who will save the planet, the captivated audience member at Ziggy's live show ("Lady Stardust"), Ziggy and his Spiders From Mars mixing in some sex and drugs with their rock 'n' roll ("Hang on to Yourself," "Suffragette City"), and finally Ziggy's own demise in "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide." (In a Rolling Stone interview, Bowie explained that Ziggy is torn to pieces by anti-matter black-hole jumpers called infinites who land in Greenwich Village and need Ziggy's "elements" to become corporeal. Or something.) OK, so the story of Ziggy Stardust might be too "far out" by today's standards, but the message of hope that cuts through the album still resonates, and the music is still fun and furious. Ziggy is wonderful; give him your hands.

★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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