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Long Play: David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

As part of our ongoing Long Play series, opbmusic is playing selections from David Bowie’s 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars all day throughout the broadcast on Thursday, January 14 (9am-3pm PT).

Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars by David Bowie

Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars by David Bowie

The music world suffered a huge loss this week when news broke that David Bowie had died from complications related to cancer. If you haven’t read John Pareles’ obituary of Bowie in the New York Times yet, take some time out of your busy day and do so now. In it, Pareles calls Bowie “the infinitely changeable, fiercely forward-looking songwriter who taught generations of musicians about the power of drama, images and personas.”

That pretty much sums up the man’s incredible career. Bowie had multiple personalities, one for each of the 25 studio albums he released. And each one of these personas was larger than life. But perhaps none was bigger than Ziggy Stardust. Bowie’s 1972 release The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was a bizarre concept piece involving aliens, sex, drugs, and rock n roll. It didn’t really make sense, but that didn’t matter. The sprawling album (the 11 tracks dabble in everything from proto-punk to dance music) was held together by a winning combination of unforgettable hooks and theatrical presentation and spawned what would become Bowie’s most iconic tour.

Contemporary critics seemed to appreciate the feat. At the time, Rolling Stone said of Ziggy Stardust:

David Bowie has pulled off his complex task with consummate style, with some great rock & roll (the Spiders are Mick Ronson on guitar and piano, Mick Woodmansey on drums and Trevor Bolder on bass; they’re good), with all the wit and passion required to give it sufficient dimension and with a deep sense of humanity that regularly emerges from behind the Star facade. The important thing is that despite the formidable nature of the undertaking, he hasn’t sacrificed a bit of entertainment value for the sake of message.

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