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Mini Ziggy or
How The British Ziggy Was
More Interesting Than The American Ziggy
by Daniel Hirshleiffer (26 November 1998)
I've always considered Aladdin Sane to be the bastard child of Ziggy Stardust. A good album, but nowhere near as great as the album that preceded it. As such, I never gave the album much consideration, certainly not enough for a review. However, after reading the review by Emilio Pacheco, I've decided to write a review. Emilio made Aladdin Sane seem as if it was the most amazing Bowie album ever made. Emilio also said that he would not talk about the album from a 13 year old's perspective (13 being the age he received the album). However, after reading the review, it is quite obvious Emilio was talking from the 13-year old perspective, that perspective being that Aladdin Sane WAS Bowie's best album, which it is not, and Emilio could only think that by looking at the album through rose-colored glasses. Let's look at it on a song-by-song basis.
First is "Watch That Man," a Stones-esque rocker which has a memorable riff and less than memorable lyrics. Bowie's voice is drowned out by the guitar, and I credit this to bad producing. Emilio credits this to the influence of The Rolling Stones. The problem with that assumption is that even if Jagger mumbled his lyrics, you could always hear his voice. Then comes "Aladdin Sane," the title track. Kudos to Mike Garson, who plays some beautiful piano on the track. However, the song itself grows tired very quickly, and it is one of the two tracks I often skip when listening to the album. "Drive-In Saturday" is a somewhat humorous ballad which also grows tired after repeated listens. "Panic In Detroit" is the first sign of anything approximating Ziggy's greatness. Everything works on the track, and it was so good that even the 1979 re-recording of it sounded good, even though it was changed drastically. "Cracked Actor" is another great song, with vague homosexual overtones. I love it. A more overt rocker than anything on Ziggy, however it paled in comparison when played live (thinking of the Ziggy movie soundtrack here) to the Ziggy material. "Time" is another good track, however it sounds better on the expanded David Live album. "The Prettiest Star" is the other track I skip when listening to the album. It is out-and-out awful. The background vocals, the doo-wop sound of it all, it's terrible, especially considering the original was so heartfelt. "Let's Spend The Night Together" starts off the end of the album, and is so good that I prefer it to The Stones original. Ronson takes center stage on the track, and plays beautifully. Then, of course, is "The Jean Genie," the best song on the album. Rocking harder than The Stones or Zeppelin, this track contains all the right stuff. Then comes the ending track, "Lady Grinning Soul." Another worthy track, almost humorous in its melodrama. Took me a while to really get into the track, but I now love the campiness of it and can just imagine David singing it while in a dress propped up on a piano, seducing the piano player.
Aladdin Sane was made in the 70's, and therefore automatically deserves a place in any Bowiefan's catalogue. However, the album pales in comparison to any other Bowie album aside from Diamond Dogs. The album suffers from what Emilio calls"follow-up" syndrome, except it doesn't falter where Emilio says it does. Emilio say that the fault of the album was that people didn't think it would be as good as Ziggy simply because it was a follow-up, and the truth is it suffered because Ziggy Stardust was so good Bowie couldn't write enough good material to match it. That's my two cents, now go out and listen to Ziggy some more!
© Daniel Hirshleifer - SuprMallet@aol.com
---This page last modified: 13 Dec 2018---