Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect, as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. Today we’re taking a look at the 2016 reissue of one of rock’s most ubiquitous classics – David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’.
Upon its 16th June 1972 release, ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ must have seemed every bit the workings of an overambitious madman that the title likely did. After all, David Bowie had yet to make a name for himself outside of a cult audience (the previous year’s ‘Hunky Dory’ had been met appreciatively but initially achieved underwhelming sales figures) and the idea of a loose concept album centring around a bisexual alien in the last five years of earth’s life must have seemed like commercial suicide before he’d even attained a sizeable following. And yet, it wasn’t. Instead, a controversially flamboyant appearance on Top Of The Pops launched Bowie into the national consciousness and the recently released album blew up and made him into a star seemingly overnight. Listening in 2017 it’s still plainly obvious why; granted some of the shock value has diminished but the sheer quality of the songs remain. ‘Ziggy Stardust’ is an essential for good reason, a perfectly paced classic that bombards the listener with superb song after superb song. Trying to highlight the best David Bowie album is an exercise in futility but there’s no denying that ‘Ziggy Stardust’ is the most famous. Although, for sheer quality, there are a few other albums in Bowie’s discography that give it a good run for its money (‘Hunky Dory’, ‘Station To Station’ and ‘Low’ seem good contenders) ‘Ziggy Stardust’ remains perhaps the most important entry into his discography and is an undeniable essential.
We’re looking at the 2016 reissue here, which is a standalone version of the album originally released as part of the 2015 ‘Five Years’ boxset. This pressing uses the remaster originally commissioned for the 2012 40th anniversary reissue. Remastered by Ray Staff, the source for this version is digital which may irk some analogue purists – however the remaster sounds great, with Bowie’s vocals having a great presence to them plus the mix being nice and clear. If we were being critical we might say that the overall soundstage is a little on the bright side with both the bass and piano leaning slightly towards the high end, rather than total balance; but it does sound great and most will be very happy with it. The actual playback is gorgeous however – it’s really so good that it makes this an easily recommendable version of the album. Vinyl weight is more than decent here and although it’s not a full 180g, it definitely feels like a solid slab of wax; our copy did have a very slight edge warp so it’s not impervious to such flaws but playback was not affected so it’s no more than a slight superficial irk. Playback is fantastic with a clean, quiet noisefloor and no defects such as pops or clicks. Overall, a really nice pressing and a good way to hear the album.
Packaging and presentation is excellent on this reissue, with an aesthetic that seeks to faithfully recreate that of an original pressing and does an impressive job of doing so. Granted, there are naturally some differences – including altered copyright text on the sleeve and label details changed – but by and large this is indeed a very authentic reproduction of the original release. The famous orange RCA labels are all present and correct (with the RCA lettering instead reading “BOWIE”) and the original lyric inner sleeve likewise makes the cut on the reissue. The spine positively jumps off the shelf with a clear white background and simple bold black font – it’s not the most artistic of spines but it certainly catches the eye.
This is a great reissue and an excellent way to hear one of rock’s most important albums. The remaster is rock solid and the pressing itself is excellent; presentation, too, excels and the overall packaging definitely leaves a very positive impression. The price could stand to be a little lower (for a single LP £16 seems more fair the current median of £18) but it’s still a far cheaper option than acquiring even a well worn original and comes recommended to anyone looking to get the album on a budget.