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“Initial Muse Appendage Extermination: Sorting Ziggy Stardust within the Bowie Cat.”

Nowadays Lester Bangs is really catching on, a trend having started with Almost Famous, which came out I think about 20 years after the rock critic’s death, and continually apparent with his book Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste occupying a spot in our public library now. Ziggy Stardust, denounced by Mr. Bangs, was one of those albums I clung to for its pure catchiness for a while, but then found myself throwing into corner wanting to drive a stake through, or at least spit tobacco juice on. It’s almost like someone who aggressively gets on you while you’re drunk, and then, you find, is cuddling with you the next morning. It’s like, yeah, I enjoyed that, but fu** off!
One thing is clear: the best song on Ziggy Stardust is “It Ain’t Easy.” Now, pardner, we could go one of many, many directions here, but let’s backtrack for a sec. First of all, Stardust strikes me as the type of album that was overseen by someone who really really knew what he or she were doing in the way of selling a lot of copies. Hence debacles like “Moonage Daydream,” with a cosmic, zany D.B., a super-passable guitar solo and that space travel crap at the end of the trackie.
Ok, here’s the path I’m going to go in: Lester Bangs, through little fault of his own, given what was probably an unruly craze surrounding this mauve musical martian, completely discarded the album, rightfully, ignorning talent, and also, for that matter, self-loathing. Amidst kitchy slop, Bowie on Stardust makes an album that pleases the white men in suits, even lands a soundtrack spot on the 30-years-out Life Aquatic. And give him credit, the best songs on the album are the ones wherein what he says lyrically is actually the truth, like “It Ain’t Easy,” “I could fall asleep at night as a rock and roll star,” “If you really wanna make it / You better hang onto yourself.” Give him credit for sacrificing the cohesiveness of any “concept album” (there’s obviously a drastic shift in sentiment on the superior post-track-four numbers) in favor of, maybe, prospective malleability?

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