Friday, February 10, 2006

Time Takes A Cigarette

Aladdin Sane (30th Anniversary Two-CD Edition)

Detroit circa 1973 more or less WAS A Clockwork Orange, a post-apocalyptic urban dystopia minus the funny Brit accents but with added ultra-violence and racial strife. Bowie channeled the Motor City vibe from the safety of four-star hotel rooms, envisioning a plotless rock opera of leather-clad bully boys and pimped-out thuggery where panic strutted around on platform shoes and you just know somebody was gonna get slapped. Back then Bowie held a cracked mirror up to rock 'n' roll and reflected it back as art, trading glittering extraterrestrial personas like spangled jumpsuits, each more garish, cokeheaded and alienated than the last. Aladdin Sane climbed out of the same crash-landed saucer as Ziggy Stardust and--with Mick Ronson's phasers-set-for-kill guitars chauffeuring--promptly limousined himself across America on a search-and-destroy mission against the ordinary. Bowie could be such a bitch, and everyone who turned up at those shows had a gay old time. Perched midway between queeny Brechtian cabaret, white-faced Kabuki theater and throbbing cock-rock burlesque, Aladdin Sane was originally intended as B-movie filler to capitalize on Ziggy's rock-star ascendancy. But in the intervening 33 years it has ripened into a bell-bottomed glam classic.


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