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139 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to Basics
Note: This a review of the 40th Anniversary CD remaster, issued in 2012.

There is a curious phenomenon happening in the world of Bowie CD remasters, which we can hope portends an attitude change in the music industry as a whole regarding the remastering of classic albums. This phenomenon is, simply put, going back to basics. More specifically, it appears as...
Published on June 6, 2012 by Giacomo Holdini

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106 of 113 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great album, but poorly planned, rip-off reissue
Wow. 3-stars for Ziggy Stardust? Let me emphasize something right from the start: 3-stars is not indicative of my feelings towards the music contained on this set. Ziggy is a classic album, and deserves that status. In fact, in deserves far more than is offered in this poorly planned, shoddy two-disc "30th Anniversary Edition" offered from EMI.
Ziggy Stardust has...
Published on July 3, 2003 by David Goodwin


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139 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to Basics, June 6, 2012
By 
Giacomo Holdini (Portland, Oregon) - See all my reviews
Note: This a review of the 40th Anniversary CD remaster, issued in 2012.

There is a curious phenomenon happening in the world of Bowie CD remasters, which we can hope portends an attitude change in the music industry as a whole regarding the remastering of classic albums. This phenomenon is, simply put, going back to basics. More specifically, it appears as though EMI is actually starting to recognize that the sound of the original Bowie albums, at the time they were made, doesn't require improving upon. Rather, the best a remastering can do is present the original sound in the most faithful manner possible, from the best possible sources. This 40th Anniversary remastering of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars does just that.

Ironically, the original RCA Bowie CDs from the 1980s, which were lambasted at the time as subpar, actually did a pretty good job of staying faithful to the sound of the original LPs. Although they are rumored to have been from latter-generation sources, rather than the original master tapes, they have nevertheless held up very well in light of the reissues that followed: the anemic and overly bright Ryko reissues of the late `80s, and the bloated, heavily compressed Virgin/EMI remasters of the late `90s, which remain the standard versions available today. However, it was the 30th Anniversary edition of Ziggy Stardust that represented the nadir of all Bowie remasters: it sounded worse than even the '90s EMI remaster; worse yet, it actually removed portions of the music and reversed the stereo channels. It was an absolute travesty that never should have seen record store shelves, and it seemed to confirm the belief among audiophiles and music enthusiasts that the more the record companies tried to justify double and triple dips, the worse things got.

Then things started to change. The Aladdin Sane 30th Anniversary remaster actually was a bit less loud than its previous remastering, and with a more subtle EQ - not quite on the level of the original RCA LP or CD, but definitely a step in the right direction. Then came the Station to Station deluxe reissue in 2010, which really nailed it, faithfully reproducing the basic sound of the RCA LP and CD, but with the added benefit of going back to the original master tapes for a cleaner presentation. It was exactly what a remaster should be.

This newest release of Ziggy Stardust continues the trend, and may be the best sounding Bowie CD reissue yet. Remastered by Ray Staff, who engineered the original album back in 1971, this version comes full circle, sounding remarkably similar to both the original RCA LP and CD, but with a bit more sonic pop and presence, as well as clarity resulting from a superior transfer of the original master tape. This is miles better than either the 1999 EMI remaster or the ghastly 30th Anniversary edition (stereo channels are as they should be, and the segues are restored); it bests the Ryko version, as well. There is a certain irony that it took four CD reissues just to come back to the sound RCA got right in the first place, but with this remastering, we finally have the definitive Ziggy on CD. Here's hoping EMI makes this permanently available, and never seeks to improve upon it with a subsequent release. They really cannot do better than this.
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106 of 113 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great album, but poorly planned, rip-off reissue, July 3, 2003
By 
David Goodwin (Dunhaven, NY United States) - See all my reviews
Wow. 3-stars for Ziggy Stardust? Let me emphasize something right from the start: 3-stars is not indicative of my feelings towards the music contained on this set. Ziggy is a classic album, and deserves that status. In fact, in deserves far more than is offered in this poorly planned, shoddy two-disc "30th Anniversary Edition" offered from EMI.
Ziggy Stardust has been reissued countless times on CD in the past 15 years. In fact, let's take an inventory. There was the original, from-second-generation-tapes-but-unprocessed RCA disc that's currently having something of a critical renaissance. There was the original Rykodisc issue which came with bonus tracks. There was the anniversary Ryko box, with the same disc but a great box/booklet (far nicer than the one in this 30th Anniversary volume, and packaged much better to boot). Then there was the gold, Au20 series disc issued by Rykodisc (remastered again), and then in 1999 the Virgin reissue of the disc, which deleted the bonus tracks. And then this. While not publicized quite as much, it seems as if David might be competing with Hendrix or Elvis for "most endlessly reissued album" in this particular case.
So, uh, what do we have here, then? Well, we've got a two-disc set, held together by some *very* fragile packaging (the booklet seems almost designed to fall apart!). The main set is remastered again (although not very well...we'll get to that in a moment), and is supplemented by a second disc of bonus tracks.
Unfortunately, the iteration of "Ziggy" here is, I dare to say, the worst version on CD. The sound is slightly muddier than the already-overcompressed Virgin CD, but that isn't the main problem. What *is* a problem is the fact that the stereo channels of the album are reversed and intros to two songs (the acoustic segue between Ziggy and Suffragette City and the count-in to Hang On To Yourself) are missing. Missing. Inexcusable, and it's unfathomable that of all issues of the album, it's the "milestone" 30th anniversary set that's botched.
And the bonus tracks? Not only could they fit on the first disc--which, in current record company logic, would probably knock the price down a few notches--they've almost all been released before, mostly on the Ryko edition. There's nothing revelatory here, and although it's certainly nice to have these selections in print again, one must wonder why more effort wasn't expended in getting some nice, *really* never-been-heard-before vault tracks.
The verdict? If you absolutely, positively have never heard Ziggy before...well, don't buy this, as it's the only version on disc to actually make mistakes representing the original work. Track down the Ryko editions if you want bonus tracks, or grab the single-disc version (which really isn't all that bad) or--gasp--the RCA if you're so inclined. This set is for collectors, plain and simple.
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83 of 88 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sonic problems with this edition, November 2, 2002
My five issues with the mastering on this edition of one of my favourite rock albums:
(1) Some tracks have rather muffled sound: "Ziggy Stardust" is just a tiny bit congested when compared with the old EMI disc, but "Suffragette City" is noticeably lacking in upper-end bite. There's more low-end on the new disc, so this may represent an intentional change in emphasis, but it still sounds odd to my ears: much of the snarl is missing from Ronno's chugging guitar riffs.
(2) The little tiny three-note guitar lick at the very end of "Ziggy Stardust" -- the one *right* before "Suffragette City" crashes in -- has been faded out, so that the two songs no longer flow continuously one into the other. I can't imagine why this was done.
(3) The *really* puzzling one: the new disc has the stereo image REVERSED. Check out the opening of "Ziggy Stardust": the new disc has the acoustic guitar in the left channel, when it's been on the right on every previous release. Similarly, the five little hits on the ride cymbal at the very start of "Suffragette City" should be in the right speaker: here, they're on the left. It's not a remix: they've just swapped the L and R channels.
(4) The very first piano note in "Lady Stardust" is missing its initial attack: it sounds as if the track was faded up from silence, and a little bit of the initial "thunk" was lost. It's quite noticeable when compared with the 1999 EMI disc.
(5) The "one-two" count-in at the start of "Hang On To Yourself" is gone. Not reduced in volume: it's *gone*. The song just starts off with the two-chord hook. As far as I'm aware, every previous release of the album has had the count-in.
I've no idea what could have prompted the mastering team (Peter Mew and Nigel Reeve, the same gents who did the 1999 EMI master) to make these bizarre alterations to this album. Until/unless EMI fixes these issues, I'm afraid I can't recommend this release: stick with the 1999 EMI disc for the best available version of _Ziggy Stardust_.
The packaging and bonus tracks rate 2 stars by themselves. But as a best-ever release of the album, I think this edition falls woefully short.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SACD Review, May 23, 2005
By 
James Wheeler (Atlanta, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars (Audio CD)
This review focuses on the SACD remix of this timeless classic. Presuming you already love this music and have wandered here looking for validation to purchase the music in the re-configured format, let me cut to the chase and let you know it sounds wonderful. Some albums from this era use the rear channels sparingly to fill the room with swells and ambience, see Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for an example of this treatment. Others like Dark Side of the Moon and T. Rex Electric Warrior give each speaker its own soundtrack. Ziggy Stardust falls in the middle, giving plenty of separate treats for each speaker, but never hitting you in the face with the "tricky-ness" of it or detracting from the listening experience. A great way to hear this great album.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best-Sounding SACD I Have Ever Purchased!, February 5, 2004
By 
Phillip Mendelsohn (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars (Audio CD)
Although I don't have a gigantic collection of rock SACDs, this 5.1-channel digital remix of "Ziggy Stardust" is absolutely beautifully done, and if any of your friends are on the fence about SACD, play this disc for them. Also play this disc for them if they have somehow never heard it, say they do not like David Bowie much (!?), need to be cheered up--basically any excuse will do.

When you play "Ziggy Stardust" on SACD, you will hear many new instrumental tracks that got lost in the original stereo mix. For example, on "Suffragette City," you can actually hear the acoustic guitar track on the rear-surround channels! Many of the songs almost sound like new recordings of your old favorites, because there is so much new material you can now *hear* for the very first time.

But for me, the most impressive features of this SACD were the absolutely *visceral* response my body had to the music, and the truly outstanding quality of the digital re-mix. I have probably listened to the stereo mix of the vinyl and CD of the album many more than 100 times, and I obviously love it. But when I listen to this SACD, I can actually *feel* the music in the pit of my stomach, in my legs--in my whole body, really. It seems as if I have been transported inside a virtual musical snowglobe, and someone is shaking it up: Bowie's music swirls all around me, through me, and then back out all around the room. My heart starts beating faster--wildly almost--and it feels as if the music is pouring in through every single pore in my body. BTW, I do not use drugs, so this is not some description of a "freak-out" in a "moonage daydream" (in D.B.'s words). I also do *not* have an extremely high-end audiophile set-up; my SACD player is a modest Pioneer DV-563A, Infinity speakers, separate Klipsch subwoofer, Kenwood SS processor.

The "liner notes" are also very, very good, have all the lyrics, and contain many full-color photos I have never seen before.

Bottom line: Buy this SACD, intensify (or rekindle) your love affair with music, and have a near-religious experience in your living room.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the "glam rock" label for this record, December 3, 1999
This review is from: Ziggy Stardust (Audio CD)
If "Ziggy" were Bowie's only release, his place in Rock's pantheon would still be assured. This album pretty much established Bowie as major artist in the U.S. Just a couple of observations; this album is unusually "Beatle-esque". Note the layered/textured harmonies, the insistent lead guitar (Mick Ronson's guitar style lends itself beautifully to this material), the almost omni-present acoustic rhythm guitar, and last but not least, the uncanny resemblance of "Five years" to John Lennon's "The dream is over" (Lennon and Bowie apparently were close friends - John is featured on "Fame"). I personally enjoy the many moods of this album; brooding - "Five Years", whimsy - "Starman"/"Moonage Daydream", defiance - "Suffragette City", urgency - "Hang on to yourself", this track being perhaps the least appreciated and most musically inventive of the CD, again beatle-esque, especially the chorus. Bowie's facility with melody still astonishes me after 25 years. If you need somewhere to start with Bowie, this has to be the place.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Over priced classic CD., July 16, 2002
Ziggy Stardust is one of the ten greatest albums that I have ever heard. The quality of the music isn't why I am giving this CD 3 stars. The reason that I am giving this edition three stars is because it is over priced. All of the music on this remaster could have fit onto one CD. Instead they put it on two CD's and charged the consumer the difference. The packaging here is pretty cool but it is not worth 22 dollars. If you don't have the original, buy it instead and save yourself the extra eight dollars. Back when Rykodisc had Bowie's catalog, they put out all of the songs on disc two of this collection but they put those songs on his other albums as bonus tracks and didn't charge the fan extra. Then EMI got Bowie's catalog and decided to not release the bonus tracks on his albums so that they could make more CD's out of them and I guess make more money. Don't be fooled by this. All of the music on both CD's equals about 79 and a half minutes of music. Short enough to fit onto one disc. The music industry is really slipping.
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83 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflection on Ziggy, November 15, 2003
By 
C.F. Stewart (Annapolis, MD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ziggy Stardust (Audio CD)
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Before this album, Bowie was only somewhat of a ridiculous character. You heard him telling everyone `I'm going to be huge!', you may have even seen photos of him making out with Mick Jagger...but you probably never heard any of his music. Then, what Bowie seems to have done with Ziggy, is take that part of himself that he knew was absolutely ridiculous-exaggerate to such an obscene extent-and then make it appear authentic. If anyone has ever heard Bowie talk about this album, it is easy to get the impression that he is just as confused by it as we are. He certainly attributed quite a bit of the creative process that went into Ziggy to `the help of some chemical substances at the time.'
Whether Bowie has any idea what he was doing is beside the point. The album rocks. Some say that no albums rocks more (Q (the magazine)), and everyone seems to concede that no album rocks in the same way. Each song has it's own style and charm, but also gracefully flows into the next. My favorite tracks are the first five, mostly because I prefer the softer ones, but when you want to rock, 'Suffragete City' takes you there.
And what Bowie did with his alter ego Ziggy Stardust was brilliant. He presented the alien as becoming an established rock legend - making Bowie appear like one too, even though, then, he was the fledging artist. Later, Bowie would say that he so engrossed with his creation that he couldn't tell where Ziggy began and he stopped `He's a monster and I'm Dr Frankenstein. He's my brother, and God, I love him.' - Bowie (1976) Bono is to have said of Ziggy that he `was the nicest fella from Mars I ever met...' I think Bowie knew there is something Godlike about a rock star, about what such a person represents to his audience, some impression of superhuman ability, of control, power. He knew about the need confused, young, passionate people had to worship something/somebody, and he cultivated/exploited that need.
Interesting Lyric: `Keep your mouth shut/Your squaking like a pink monkey bird!'
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WHY?, January 31, 2003
By A Customer
The little tiny three-note guitar lick at the very end of "Ziggy Stardust" -- the one *right* before "Suffragette City" crashes in -- has been faded out, so that the two songs no longer flow continuously one into the other. I can't imagine why this was done.
I can't understand WHY THEY CAN'T PRODUCE THIS SPECIAL CD TO REFLECT THE ORIGINAL ALBUM!!
The small nuances give the recording life...
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Bowie through the eyes of Ziggy Stardust, April 10, 2000
This review is from: Ziggy Stardust (Audio CD)
Or is it vice versa? This was Bowie's first concept album, which helped tell of the trials & tribulations that an extraterrestrial rock star has to go through. Bowie, being the prime example himself, did it perfectly with creativity and precision. The beautiful angst of "Five Years" starts it all off, where Ziggy's world slowly fades away into nothing. Next, we see him telling what he thinks love really is, hiding behind the pop music of "Soul Love". "Moonage Daydream" is the first alien rock song, mingling with a violent space-faced alien. "Starman" wonderfully expresses how humans wouldn't be able to accept something different, say a spiritual alien, into their society. "It Ain't Easy" and the mellow piano tune of "Lady Stardust" are further dwelling into not being accepted. "Star" and "Hang On To Yourself" showcase the gradual rise Ziggy's glam carreer, but then we see what happens when he starts to fall with "Ziggy Stardust". It's hard to tell what "Suffragette City" is about, but it is an awesome song. The final farewell of Ziggy concludes in the aptly titled "Rock N'Roll Suicide". Through it all, we hear raging electric guitar, acoustics, strings, and piano. Brilliant. Another congratualtion on behalf of Bowie.
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