David Bowie (1972)
The poster boy for glam rock explored so much more than that over the many years of his career, and yet he was exactly that – a poster boy. Never the primary originator, but the savvy, enigmatic pop persona that catapulted whatever he touched into mass consciousness. And he certainly deserves some kudos for that.
Possibly the closest David Bowie ever came to pioneering something was on this record, where he fleshed out the nascent glam rock genre and added a transparently ridiculous and vague space opera story to it. It was retro, futuristic, artsy and kitschy all at the same time, something few if any others had attempted – to say nothing of the androgynous, satirical stage character he invented and inhabited for a year of touring.
Similar to Beggars’ Banquet, I expected throwback riffs and innocent energy here. But this release is more slippery and sneaky than that, so I thought I should issue another disclaimer: this is primarily luxurious pop, funky music hall and classical motives attached to light rock songs. Only on “Suffragette City” do they tower to metal-heavy levels for an entire song, so don’t go in expecting every song to sound like that (although some do rock quite a bit). Furthermore, Ziggy isn’t without its small flaws and awkward parts (and the story behind the music is a non-starter, which is probably intentional), but it’s nonetheless a classic. The songwriting quality is slightly more uniform on its pseudo-sequel, Aladdin Sane, but this one is quite good enough, and so epochal that there’s no denying its place in the pantheon.
Key track: “Ziggy Stardust”
See also: Electric Warrior – T. Rex (1971), Transformer – Lou Reed (1972), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John (1973), Aladdin Sane – David Bowie (1973), Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume II – Elton John (1977)