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  David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars"

David Bowie
Track listing:
  1. Five Years
2. Soul Love
3. Moonage Daydream
4. Starman
5. It Ain't Easy
6. Lady Stardust
7. Star
8. Hang On To Yourself
9. Ziggy Stardust
10. Suffragette City
11. Rock 'N' Roll Suicide
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 4

Reviews: 8 show all

Review by ColoradoClark June 21, 2005 (6 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Ziggy is my favorite Bowie album and the SACD is my third CD format of the album. A vinyl-loving friend of mine and I sat down and took a serious listen to the sonic quality of this SACD - comparing it to both CD releases of Ziggy - and we both gave the SACD a "thumbs down" on sonic quality. The guitar (in particular) sounds very distant and tinny, losing a lot of the power and character that carries through the album. Interesting to note that my friend and I both agreed that the first CD relaease late eighties or early 90s?) had the best sonic quality, with a warmth that is lacking in both the SACD and the later CD relase...and the first CD sounds closest to the original vinyl.

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Review by lucevans March 16, 2006 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I hesitated after reading some of the reviews here, but eventually decided to get it and make my own mind up.
I initially listened to the 5.1 layer, and was rather disappointed - I accept that the source tapes are old and the original studio recording was made with a 2-channel master in mind, but I couldn't help feeling that the multi-channel mix didn't make the most of what was available; it sounded dull and murky with very little distinction or punch: the separation was, I'm afraid, probably the worst of all the multi-channel SACDs that I've heard to date.
However, I love the content so much that no sooner had the last strains of "Rock'n'Roll Suicide" faded, I started again from the beginning with the Stereo layer. and, oh boy, what a difference!! I was immediately transported back to the excitement and energy I felt listening to it for the first time. While not particularly Bassy, the 2-channel mix has remarkable clarity compared with the multi-channel version. The presence was so much more immediate that one could be forgiven for imagining that it was being played on completely different equipment. Just for good measure, I listened for a third time in stereo on headphones, and my initial impression of the stereo layer was borne-out: a superb job. I was left with the feeling that what I was hearing was what Bowie heard through the monitors in the studio all those years ago, and that I was hearing it exactly as it was originally envisaged by the artist. Don't get me wrong - I'm not a stereo-purist; I love multi-channel when it's done well (Beck-Sea Change) but I'm finding that engineers are still investing more time and effort in producing sublime stereo SACDs than 5.1 - maybe because they have more experience in mixing to 2 channels, maybe because it's actually much more difficult to produce a good-sounding 5.1 mix, or maybe it's simple economics...far more consumers continue to listen in stereo than 5.1, so it's not cost-effective to spend much time on the more complex 5.1 mixing process.
Would I recommend this SACD? Yes, but even those with 5.1 systems will probably enjoy the stereo mix more.

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Review by fredblue May 20, 2009 (5 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Oh dear..! Already owning and loving several other classic Bowie albums mixed into 5.1 (admittedly all on the "other format"... sshhh we don't talk about those dvd "things" here!) I was really looking forward to this one dropping on my doormat!

But... as soon as I took it out for a spin, it was immediately clear that something went badly wrong here with the Multi-Channel mix. It pains me to say it, as I love this album and have played it to death over the last 15 or so years since I first discovered it, but this must be one of the most disappointing M/C SACD's I own.

Quite how this happened, I don't know, as the original producer remixed this into 5.1 so if Ken Scott can't do it.. who can!? On that note, I wonder if Bowie himself has heard this mix? Was he consulted about it, or even knows of it's existence!? As much as I like and admire the man and his music I am not so fanatical as to know but I am sure somebody does!

For starters everything is way too tame. From word go and throughout the whole disc, the presentation of ZIggy Stardust here seems to lack any attack, presence or clarity. Not something I have become used to encountering on SACD! I have to whack the master volume on my receiver way up to be able to get anything remotely listenable out of this disc - and I HATE compressed remasters where everything is plugged up to "11", that's not what SACD is all about!

It may say on the back cover "To Be Played At Maximum Volume!" but that is not exclusive to this SACD, it said that on my old redbook cd as well, and that didn't require such a volume boost I can tell you!!

To add to my frustration, the components of the mix just sound so weak and insipid. Bowie's voice is thin and reedy, drums are limp and lifeless, bass lacks any vitality, occasionally other instruments come in and the rears spring into life but not often enough for my liking.

As criminal as it is to admit, the steering and direction of the multi-channels themselves is simply awful, I can't put it any other way! There's no sense of air or ambience around any of this flat, dead mix. I get a better result at some "surround" imaging out of my old rbcd of this album decoded via DPLII or DTS! It might not be high-resolution or discrete but it's eminently more listenable than this!

Regrettably, I really cannot think of one positive thing to say about the M/C mix on offer here. If it's any consolation, the album seemed to fly by in a quiet whimper and was all over a lot quicker than I have ever known it, so the agony didn't "feel" quite as hurtful to hear one of my favourite albums sound so underwhelming.. perverse but true.

If you are a David Bowie fan with an SACD system, I guess you'll have this one already and so it'll be too late to deter you from wasting your time and trouble! However, seeing as this perenially features in so many "Top Albums of All Time" lists and so forth, not only does it seem a perfect candidate for the SACD M/C treatment but a perfect disc to add to many collections, on a whim. Unfortunately, as great as the music may be, the mix here is not.

I would add that if you aren't into Bowie or this album at all, or are just getting into SACD and are keen to hear what the format can really do, there are at least 40 other discs that (from a sound quality/fidelity/surround sound perspective at any rate) I would recommend over this one.

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