Just for the record: Get Ziggy and jiggy with jazz


Just for the record: Get Ziggy and jiggy with jazz

A fortnightly review of music on vinyl

Andrew Donaldson

Mattell, the toy people, have produced a Ziggy Stardust edition of Barbie. There are, of course, those who value and collect such things. But I fear we’re shortly to hear more about this, unbidden, from the gender theorists, and we may soon be swamped with impassioned arguments about the repackaging of David Bowie’s androgynous alien alter ego as a transgender metaphor for the mass consumption of the queer experience in a heteronormative world. Or some such.

Given a limited and perhaps prurient interest here, I would suggest a Ziggy Barbie makes perfect anatomical sense. Anyone who has seen Nic Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth will know that, stripped of his human form, the alien played by Bowie in the film is revealed as having no genitals whatsoever. Very much like Barbie and Ken.

But the doll has prompted a revisit to those early, breakthrough and, if I may, ballsy recordings of Bowie’s “classic period”. The highlight here is 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (RCA), an absolutely essential glam-rock extravaganza that, though melodramatic, hung together neatly as a concept album with its themes of a decaying future and nuclear dread; rock and roll was not going to save us from the coming apocalypse, it warned, but the party was going to be a blast. It helped, obviously, that the single off the album, Starman, was a worldwide smash. Global domination was assured...

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