There’s no denying it: Ziggy Stardust is a great album. It’s not Bowie’s finest musical work but, in terms of its impact on the broader popular culture of the past four decades, it remains the most important statement of his career. And yet: do we really need another reissue to follow the 1984 RCA CD, the 1990 Rykodisc edition, the 1999 EMI/Virgin remaster, the 2002 double-disc 30th anniversary repackage, and the same year’s super-deluxe SACD?
This year’s model boasts newly remastered sound by original Trident Studios engineer Ray Staff, but while the songs sound suitably bright and three-dimensional, there are no new mysteries to uncover, no great sonic secrets to be revealed. Ziggy played guitar, he really sang, he wrote brilliant songs of darkness and disgrace. This we know. But when the biggest draw is a quartet of 10-year-old Ken Scott remixes of previously released bonus tracks that were presumably deemed surplus to requirements last time around, you start to wonder about the need to buy them all again.
There’s a growing sense with EMI’s recent and increasingly sporadic reissue programme that the man himself is holding the keys to the vault close to his chest until such a time as he can present his legacy on his own terms – and until he does, your old copy of Stardust will do just fine.