12. rock’n’roll suicide

“Rock music is weaponry, no question. Final ammo of the disconnected, the lonely, the desperate. And who better to grasp this, put it into words and song but the Alien himself – David Jones, aka Bowie, aka Ziggy Stardust? Because even aliens are human, deep down inside. Or better put – we’re all aliens at some point, from some angle or other, alone at the edge of the night, and never more so than at some pivotal moment in our f***ed up youth, hanging onto the edge of some unfathomable abyss. To be or not to be.

The palpable memory for me here is my friend James, long gone now, because he let go of the edge, became a rock and roll suicide. Was he even aware of this song? Probably. He knew his music way better than I did. But mostly, he knew his bullshit dreams, got swallowed by them. That need to be adored, far outweighing his desire to give. That’ll kill you every time one way or another. Anyway, David Bowie’s Rock’n’roll Suicide contains all that, and more, the sublime climax to one of the very few albums that I still listen to in its entirety. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect because nothing is, but holy sh**, Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars gets damned close to that particular impossibility.” (Philip Random)

37. Eskimo [the random edit]

“Because if you’re not at some point listening to music that has turned into noise, or perhaps noticing that noise has turned into music – you’re not trying hard enough. And I’ve definitely tried in my time. I’ve listened to The Residents a lot over the years. There’s certainly a lot to listen to. None of it remotely ordinary, some of it outright sublime. Though they disappointed me when I finally saw them live. Not that there was anything wrong with the show. It was just too human somehow, all my notions dashed that they were aliens of some sort, or spirit entities or maybe some kind of future post-humans come back to check up on us. Nope, they were just people wearing eyeball masks, cranking out weirdly weird music. Yet an album like Eskimo (various parts of which constitute this edit) still gets me wondering. Because it just doesn’t feel like it’s from this world. It feels beyond us somehow, and sublimely, enticingly, alluringly so. Of course, maybe that’s what living in the Arctic is really like, or was anyway, for the millennia before electricity finally showed up. Maybe that’s the whole point. We have met the aliens. The aliens are us.” (Philip Random) 

235. soul love

Soul Love is the second of two in a row from 1972’s Ziggy Stardust + The Spiders From Mars, making the list if only because Five Years doesn’t sound quite right without it following immediately afterward. And it’s proof in advertising, a groovy nugget of soul and love, and a solid hint of where the alien Bowie might be headed once he shed his Ziggy skin.

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236. five years

“At first I wasn’t even going to include anything from Ziggy Stardust on this list. It just seemed inconceivable that there was anybody who hadn’t already heard it all perhaps way too many times. But then Five Years popped up on an old mix tape and young Tracy (who isn’t even that young) said, is this John Lennon? Five Years being the 1972 song in which David Bowie accurately predicted the end of the world in 1977. Which I realize is a confusing fact to lay down, particularly to those born since 1977. Just trust me, it’s true. This is not the same world as before. Something very odd happened in 1977 and we’ve all been spinning in weird gravity ever since.” (Philip Random)

DavidBowie-1972-ZiggyStage

299. nuclear war

“There’s no point in trying to do justice to the universe expanding alien immensity that is the Sun Ra story with a few words. So I won’t bother trying. Just urge you to look into it, please, explore at least some of those extra-stellar regions. As for Nuclear War, I think it speaks well enough for itself. We’re f***ed if we allow for even its possibility in our stratagems. True in 1945, true in 1982, true forever to the ends of the time and space.” (Philip Random)

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396. St. Elmo’s Fire

If nothing else, Brian Eno’s Another Green World has a perfect title. Put it on and you get transported to a very agreeable yet very different place. Alien even. Yet oh so green and achingly beautiful, like a dream, vaguely remembered via odd, mostly pleasant, always strange fragments, with St. Elmo’s Fire an actual pop song easing from the mists halfway through side one, deepening the mystery, because what the hell is St. Emo’s Fire but a mystery?  And there’s a superlative Robert Fripp guitar solo.

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416. cracked actor

 

David Bowie at his rawest, glammest, most rockingest. The time I saw him do Cracked Actor live, he sang it to a skull, a cracked actor indeed. Or was he an alien? Aladdin Sane being the last of Ziggy albums that wasn’t all cover tunes. Either way, it was a harder rock than pretty much anyone was delivering at the time, except maybe Iggy and Stooges  … and almost nobody knew they even existed.” (Philip Random)

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711. Panic in Detroit

“As I remember it, David Bowie hit the suburbs of the Americas in comparatively slow motion. First came Space Oddity (a big deal AM radio hit in early 1973, some three years after it had hit big in the UK), then Ziggy Stardust (various album tracks popping up on FM radio), by which point you were starting to see pictures of the guy. Beyond freakish. Which were backed up by the inevitable rumours (that he actually was an alien, that he and Elton John were secretly married). But by the end of the year, all that stuff was settling, and it was the music you couldn’t ignore. So Much Great And Strange Music. So much so that a track like Panic in Detroit didn’t get near the attention it deserved. If only for the riff. You could base a whole genre on that riff. Which, it’s arguable, the Rolling Stones already had. But that’s another story.” (Philip Random)

Bowie-1973

810. hey baby (the new rising sun)

“The rumour I heard when I was maybe fifteen was that Jimi Hendrix was assassinated because of the movie Rainbow Bridge, the song Hey Baby in particular. Because it revealed that he was in fact an alien intelligence connecting with humanity via invisible currents of feedback, black magic and music, attempting to steer us all in the direction of the New Rising Sun. So Richard Nixon (no friend of outer space) issued an executive order to the CIA. Stop this entity, and with extreme prejudice. Use your best agents. Make it look like a typical rock star overdose.  And while you’re at it, get Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison as well.” (Philip Random)

JimiHendrix-Hawaii