I’m not one to take much stock in celebrities and rarely am I affected by their passing. Except the truly, beautiful, exceptional ones. At the risk of sounding all fan girl and shit, I cried the day he died. I cried for selfish reasons. I cried for his family. I cried for future generations that will never have the chance to see him perform live. I thought it was some elaborate charade for the release of Black Star. Nope. I could wax poetic about his brilliance, his personas, his musical talent, his iconic fashion sense, his fucked up teeth early on, his unabashed cocaine fueled performances and what he meant to me. But I know I don’t need to. EVERYONE loved Bowie. David Robert Jones. Ziggy Stardust. Alladin Sane. The Goblin King. The Thin White Duke. Whatever name you know him to be, he was something to all of us. So, I wanted to dedicate a review to him with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.
ALBUM: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, RCA Records, 1972
Ziggy Stardust…Is he man? Is alien? Is he gay!? No, bitches. He’s your androgynous, bisexual savior. Ziggy Stardust is Bowie’s 5th studio album. A total concept album, it tells a story of and alien messenger, Ziggy Stardust, who brings the lousy assholes of earth (who’ve basically destroyed everything) messages of love and peace, even though he’s getting it on with anyone and everyone while being blown out of his mind. It doesn’t matter; that stuff is totally kosher with aliens. Anyhow, basically he starts believing that he’s this prophet dude and he’s fueled by his fans (disciples) but ultimately, they destroy him for their own consumption. It’s actually a really fucking stellar story. (I do the homework so you don’t have to but I highly suggest you read about it).
“Five Years” is the beginning of the story. Ziggy comes down 5 years before the total end of the world. The ‘news’ is just starting to hit people hard. Like, “Shit! We only have 5 years left!” and there ain’t shit they can do about it. That’s a big ol’ load to carry around. “Soul Love” talks about all the different types of love – stone love, idiot love, new love – there’s a love for all of us. Bowie’s vocal change in this song is so unique, almost grating plus there’s a really groovy sax solo toward the end. “Moonage Daydream” introduces us to Ziggy Stardust. He’s “an alligator, I’m a mama-papa coming for you! I’m the space invader, I’ll be a rock ‘n’ rollin’ bitch for you”. Dude, he’s a sexually uninhibited starman! He’s Ziggy Freaking Stardust. (There are some excellent guitar riffs in this song thanks to Mark Ronson). “Starman” – he’s making contact now. Tune in Tokyo cuz Starman is taking over the radio waves. So check it out. Some random guy, we’ll call him Bob for all intents and purposes, is all chillin’ and listening to his radio, digging on some tunage and then realizes some crazy shit is starting to come through (Then the loud sound did seem to fade, Came back like a slow voice on a wave of phase,That weren’t no D.J., that was hazy cosmic jive -There’s a starman waiting in the sky, He’d like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d blow our minds). So the guy’s all like, “Whoa! I must have smoked some chronic cuz that shit can’t be right!” So he jumps on the horn to his buddy (we’ll call him Vinnie) and tries to confirm what he’s hearing. Bob: “Duuuuuude! Did you hear that shit on the radio?” Vinnie: “Totally man. It’s far out”. That’s my take – you can interpret it how you like.
“It Ain’t Easy” is actually a cover song; Three Dog Night did it a couple years prior. To me, even though it wasn’t originally written for this album, it just flows with the theme. It ain’t easy for the human race, let alone an alien. Ziggy has the weight of the world on his shoulders with the message he’s bringing and it ain’t easy, it ain’t easy, It ain’t easy to get to heaven when you’re going down. I love this song. It’s so jammy and bluesy and just groovy. You should go listen to it right now. “Lady Stardust” starts off with low-lit, seedy bar piano sound. It’s kind of slow and melodic. I’ve read this song was about Marc Bolan (T.Rex fame) and originally titled “Song for Marc” so you be the judge. (People stared at the makeup on his face, laughed at his long black hair, his animal grace). Bonus, just for you: Bowie added the softly spoken words “Get some pussy now” at the end of the song but I’ll be damned if I can hear it. “Star” is a peppy number with Ronson beating on the piano like he’s Elton John. Sounds to me like Bowie/Ziggy’s just convinced that he could help out the world better just by being a rock n roll star. You go do your politicizing, people, I’ll stay here and rock. “Hang on to Yourself” starts out with a great punky, rock and roll-y sounding guitar – I swear if the Ramones didn’t rip off these chords, I’ll walk naked down Main Street. This song is just downright diiiiirty….not X-Tina Dirrty; Space Age Dirty. We can’t dance, we don’t talk much, We just ball and play, But then we move like tigers on vaseline. Yep, that about sums that one up. Alien Porn 101. “Ziggy Stardust” is where he’s really starting to realize this gig wasn’t all he thought it was going to be and shit. Here you are man, up on the stage, using your alien sex to lure in all the boys and girls and shit is starting to backfire. He’s so caught up in himself that he can no longer see the vision he once had and the salvation he thought he could give the people. Can you say EGOMANIAC? Making love with his ego Ziggy sucked up into his mind, Like a leper messiah, When the kids had killed the man, I had to break up the band. Stuff don’t always work out how we want it to. Yeah, so, “Suffragette City“. Hehehe. Up until very recently (like 2 hours ago) I was absolutely convinced that this song was about Women’s suffrage. Shit you not. I thought he was singing about suffragettes. I’ve never taken the time to dissect the lyrics. Let’s just say it is most definitely not about women’s suffrage. LOL!
“Rock n Roll Suicide” closes the album. Living fast in decadence and debauchery, he’s grown old before his time and he realized it. He’s done. (You’re too old to lose it, too young to choose it And the clock waits so patiently on your song You walk past a cafe but you don’t eat when you’ve lived too long). He’s feeling worn out and rough but just when he thinks it’s over a voice says to him “Wait! You’re not alone! You’re being super hard on yourself and you need to start giving a shit!” Bowie’s voice crescendos “Oh no love! you’re not alone! You’re watching yourself but you’re too unfair, You got your head all tangled up but if I could only make you care”
I’ve never tried to figure out this album until doing this review. Needless to say, I’ve still not figured it out. It’s open for interpretation. I’m sure if I were jacked up on ludes and coke, it would take on a whole other meaning. This will always be one of my favorite Bowie albums (Diamon Dogs, takes first place) and gives you and glimpse of his true artistic genius. This album was totally groundbreaking at the time. It was another era of Bowie. He was, and always will be, our Starman.
BEER: Crazy Jesus Rock Star, Dark Horse Brewing, Marshall, MI, Apricot Chamomile Pale Ale, 6.5% ABV
Well since we are talking about saviors and rocks stars….yes, I know I already reviewed a Dark Horse beer recently but it’s Crazy Jesus Rock Star. This is a collab beer with Dark Horse and Chef Cleetus Friedman of Chicago’s Fountainhead. I don’t know who that is but his name is Cleetus so he’s got to be a badass. I’ve already had a couple beers going into this. As soon as you pour this beer you can smell the chamomile. And it’s chunky as all fuck all. Chunky as in there are pieces of fruit(?) in this beer. It almost looks like something your Aunt Edna would bring in a jello mold when someone dies. Like, I think I could get on board with this though because with the fruity chunks I’d have a balanced diet. Oddly, you can’t feel the bits in your mouth. It’s very light, and totally drinkable. It’s an odd combo. Whodda thunk apricots and chamomile in a beer? Guess they did. I’ll leave that shit to the pros. Anyhow, you get a hint of chamomile at first taste but it finishes with a really pleasant apricot taste. Okay I dig this beer. Fuck yeah Scary Jesus Rock Star! This would be a great summer beer. It’s got an almost subtle honey taste which works really well with the malt. I could be wrong but I don’t like to be wrong so we’ll go with me pretending to know what I’m talking about. So, overall this is a great beer! A solid 6.5% abv, nice flavor combo, albeit odd, kickass artwork. And I love collaborations – there is no “I” in Team but there is an “E” – two of them in BEER.