Tuesday, February 16, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars

Released on October of 1983 by RCA Records, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars is a live soundtrack album that serves as a companion piece to the D.A. Pennebaker documentary of the same name that chronicles David Bowie’s final appearance as Ziggy Stardust with his backing band in the Spiders from Mars that consists of guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder, and drummer Woody Woodmansey. Co-produced by Mike Moran in its initial release, the album also features contributions from pianist Mike Garson, guitarist John Hutchinson, Ken Fordham and Brian Wilshaw on saxophones, and Geoffrey MacCormack on percussion and backing vocals.

The double-album both opens with pieces by Wendy Carlos that has her playing classical by Beethoven that come from the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange as it serves as intros for the album as well as a break between the performance. It adds a sense of theatricality to the show while the performances of songs like Hang On to Yourself, Watch That Man, Cracked Actor, The Width of a Circle, Suffragette City, a cover of the Rolling Stones’ Let’s Spend the Night Together, and a cover of the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat play into the sense of rock n’ roll thanks in part to the powerful musicianship between Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, and Woody Woodmansey. Mike Garson’s contributions to songs like Time, Changes, and the medley of Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud, All the Young Dudes, and Oh! You Pretty Things add some juice the songs.

Among the standouts in the album is a cover of Jacques Brel’s My Death that features Bowie singing by himself with an acoustic guitar and Garson’s piano background as it is one of the most emotional moments of the album and film as fans scream “me” at the end of the song. Ziggy Stardust and Space Oddity are also standouts while the performance of Moonage Daydream features some soaring guitar work by Mick Ronson that is one of the highlights of the album. The album closer in Rock N’ Roll Suicide would be preceded by the show’s infamous farewell speech as it is also a track on the album.

When the album was released in 1983, one of its major complaints was its sequencing as well as portions of the songs that were missing due to the constraints of vinyl records at the time. When the record was remastered and remixed by Tony Visconti with Bowie’s aid for its 2003 release from EMI, the album would be given not just an improved mix as well as a proper sequencing that is presented exactly like the film. The song The Width of a Circle would be given a fuller presentation while Changes would be placed in its original sequence. The 2003 re-released version isn’t just the definitive version of the album soundtrack but it’s also probably one of Bowie’s best live releases.

The live soundtrack album to Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars is a phenomenal album from David Bowie. It’s an album that just doesn’t look back at one of his defining concerts but it’s also an album that showcases Bowie’s work with the Spiders from Mars as they proved to be a band for the ages when they perform live. In the end, Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars is a spectacular live album from David Bowie.

Related: Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1967 album) - David Bowie (1969 album) - The Man Who Sold the World - Hunky Dory - The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Aladdin Sane - Pin Ups - Diamond Dogs - Young Americans - Station to Station - Low - "Heroes" - Lodger - Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) - Let’s Dance - Tonight - Never Let Me Down - Tin Machine - Tin Machine II - Black Tie White Noise - Outside - Earthling - ‘Hours…’ - Heathen - Reality - The Next Day - *

Live Releases: David Live - Stage - Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby - Bowie at the Beeb - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: Christiane F. - Labyrinth - The Buddha of Suburbia

Miscellaneous: Peter and the Wolf - Baal - Sound + Vision - (Early On (1964-1966)) - (All Saints) - Toy - (Nothing Has Changed)

© thevoid99 2016

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