Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture (1983)

It may seem a bit daft to leap from the original Ziggy Stardust album to a live version released ten years later, but it would be far more counter-intuitive to put this in strict chronological order, straight after the 80s popgasm of Let's Dance. More importantly for me, this is the album that introduced me to Bowie, and so it both makes more sense to cover it as early as possible and, by putting it here, I'll actually have something to say beyond comparing live to studio versions of the various tracks.

I can remember ripping the wrapping paper from two large, thin, square Christmas presents in December 1983 as though it were, if not yesterday, at worst a day sometime last month. We were at my Nana's house and the presents were from my freshly separated-from-my-mum dad. They had to be albums obviously, but which ones - and why?

In retrospect it's difficult to imagine what prompted my dad to get me two LPs for Christmas, given I didn't own a record player of my own and he had no idea (nor did I, really) what kind of music I liked. Which is not to say I didn't like music - but it had tended to be stuff from my parents' music collection (mainly Frankie Laine, Tammy Wynette, Jim Reeves and Elvis) and the occasional single ('Bright Eyes' by Art Garfunkel was an early favourite, replacing the Disney double A side of The Emperor's new Clothes/The Ugly Duckling in my affections). My own taste in music was as unformed as my taste in naked ladies - I was sure I'd have favourites one day, but Christ alone knows how you found out what those favourites were.

I assume - like Scott's dad with the notorious suitcase full of meat - he bought the records from some random guy in the pub, and I could just as easily have ended up with Handel's Messiah in a commemorative box or a handsome gentleman's shaving set, but maybe I'm doing him a disservice.

Regardless of the reason, it was a revelation for me. The first album - the original Now That's What I call Music - less so admittedly, but even that had some good stuff on it. I spent the whole of the Boxing Day playing the two albums over and over again on my Nana's ancient drinks cabinet cum radio cum record player, loving Genesis, Madness and Culture Club on Now! but just staring open mouthed at the turntable every time 'My Death' came up on the Bowie album.

From that moment on, I both obsessed about music and loved anything David Bowie chose to record. This is the starting point for a life time of Bowie obsession, then, the jumping on point for all those singles, albums, posters, books, soundtracks, cds, videos, dvds, movies and everything else. This album is the reason that I once spent most of a day on the Internet trying to track down a Bowie track I once had listed on a bootleg as 'Library Pictures'. It's the cause of me and an equally Bowie daft mate at school asking for a copy of 'Trader' in HMV (someone somewhere having got the album title 'Lodger' mixed up and thus - in that pre-Internet age - having us believe in a mythical lost Bowie album). It's the justification for the title of my first ever short story ('Future Legend') and that of my less than stellar only ever novella ('The Shape of Things'). This LP led me to the rest of Bowie's back catalogue, but also, circuitously, to Ultravox, Thomas Dolby, Brian Eno, Mick Ronson, T Rex, Tony Newley, the entirety of the sixties folk rock boom, Gary Numan, Sparks, Velvet Underground...

Actually, this album led me to everything. That's why it's the best album ever.

Great Missing Track

A bit of a no-brainer. Jean Genie in a segue into and back out of Love Me do (with Jeff Beck on guitar and Bowie on mouth-organ) was recorded but never included on the album. You can see it here:

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