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4.1 out of 5 stars
When Ziggy Played Guitar: David Bowie and Four Minutes that Shook the World
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2012
This was an easy book to read, but I found it very repetitive and lacking a good structure (something which has been picked up on by other reviewers). You'd never guess that the author is a huge Bowie fan either and therein lies the problem.

Too often Dylan Jones is unable to step back and adopt a more balanced assessment allowing his adoration of Bowie to make some over-the-top claims. True, anyone watching that night when Bowie appeared on Top of the Pops performing Starman will never forget it, but there is a counter argument here : if this performance was so ground-breaking and inspired so many people that night as Dylan asserts, how come Starman and Ziggy Stardust, the album, didn't set the charts alight there and then - Starman only reached number 10 in the charts,for example, whilst Ziggy's Rise and Fall's highest position was number 5. And talking of The Rise and Fall......this is swept away casually by Jones in his review with a line or two on each track, very enlightening! There is hardly a word too about Aladdin Sane too, which in Bowie's words was Ziggy in America.

Instead, every so often we get a ponderous account of the author's upbringing - an attempt at setting some form of context as to why the Starman performance was so inspirational to him at the time. This works at the start of the book, but becomes rather tedious by the end.

On the one hand, this was a brave attempt to write a book about a stunning performance by Bowie, and incorporate some cultural and political analysis about what was also happening at the time. If this book had been condensed into a feature in a Sunday paper supplement, it would have been very interesting to read. Unfortunately, when the ideas are stretched to a book, the cracks appear very quickly, and whilst there is some good stuff here, II found that it rambled far too much. It's greatest strength is that it is comparatively easy to read - it can easily be read in a few sittings. The casual Bowie fan might just pick up on a few interesting facts too, if they are not irritated as I was by some contentious claims, from a starstruck author.. Bolan fans, for example, would surely disagree with Dylan's assessment that if Bolan was the fledging flower in the Glam movement, then Bowie was the full Garden Centre.

Overall, an interesting book to read in places and especially so if you saw that magical performance back in 1972. If you didn't and have only seen the Youtube clips, then this book will go some way in explaining how Bowie made good after years in the pop wilderness. In my view however, this book could have been so much better by incorporating a tighter framework, more informed analysis about the Ziggy LPs, especially The Rise and Fall, and more anecdotes from the people who were actually there at the time, there is nothing from Angie, for example.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 February 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed this account of the Ziggy years - the atmosphere and culture of the time, and the impact that Bowie had on so many is faithfully and fascinatingly recorded in this pages, and brought the era rather back to life in my memories. Beautifully illustrated throughout this is one of the better books about Mr Bowie.

The concluding chapters about Bowie's recent life in New York, and about the started but not completed projects which have taken up part of his recent years was mostly new information to me - and the certainty with which Dylan Jones stated in this 2012 book, that Bowie would reconnect with his audience after his long absence, does rather make me wonder if he was in on the secret of the Next Day.

A beautiful book which makes for very enjoyable reading
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Unfortunately I was only 4 years old at the time of the titular 4 minutes (Starman on TOTP) and as such didn't see the clip first time around. I got into Bowie in the early 80s specifically after seeing an edit of this clip on another TV show.

The book is very well written, as you'd expect, and offers a compelling narrative which alternates between the author's own experience and a broader oversight of the impact of Bowie on popular culture since Ziggy's inception.

I've just finished the book having only started it yesterday, which isn't bad going for me as I'm quite easily-distracted when reading.

Some great photographs in the book also!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 7 July 2012
Part biography, part autobiography, part love story, part cultural study but so much more!

This book was a genuine pleasure to read. 300 pages on the phenomena that was Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie's glam and androgynous early 70's creation. One could believe that everything that needed to be documented about Ziggy has already been achieved. One would be incorrect!

Buy this book, it's beautifully written and contains information that even the most seasoned Bowie fan may be unfamiliar with. My heart skipped a beat to discover that the Dame has sound board recordings of ALL his 74, 76 and 78 tour dates. C'mon David we miss you! If you cannot give us a new album then please share these with us.

The writing is intelligent and engaging and the photographs within are superb. This is indeed a triumph for Dylan Jones.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 15 July 2012
I am of a similar age to Dylan Jones and find his work on GQ very entertaining. Like Dylan Jones, I too witnessed those magical 4 minutes on TOTP first time round I and have been a lifelong fan of Bowie since then. So hot on the heels of the recent BBC4 Documentary on Ziggy Stardust, I was really looking forward to this book. Certainly on first glance it looked great that is until I noticed that the same photograph had been reproduced 3 times - but that's a minor niggle it's the actual content that baffled me.

I found the book frustrating in that it couldn't make its mind up what it wanted to be - was it an examination of Britain in the 70's, a historical treatise on Bowie and the Ziggy phenomenon or a personal memoir? - for me these elements failed to mesh into a cohesive whole. It offered no great insights that most Bowie fans were not already aware of. This is especially strange given that Jones admits to having met and interviewed Bowie on several occasions. Most of the quotes seemed to be gleaned from other people's interviews or source material like the Storytellers broadcast.

The book just didn't seem to have a structure. Yes it's important to set the scene and place it and Bowie within a personal context, but not throughout the book. I found myself willing the book to get on with the story, there would be tantalising glimpses into the Bowie circle, which got hamstrung by another personal reminiscence of the 1972 album chart or a visit to the hairdressers or some such. By the time we finally got to the main meat of the book..it was over. It rather reminded me of someone in a pub recounting an anecdote that they felt was necessary to embellish and expand before they got to the punchline.

I'm sure this book was put together with love, but to me it just looked like a scrapbook of random facts and reminiscences stitched together with little regard for cohesion and continuity.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great for Bowie fans and anyone who grew up watching Top of The Pops in the 70s.
Criticism - it's a bit repetitive; quoting different people saying the same thing. Could have done with a harsher editor.
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on 3 July 2013
Bought this as a xmas present and it was both well received and liked very much. Beautifully illustrated and very informative.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2013
Worth reading for the final chapter alone when DJ writes about DB in 'semi-retirement'. I'd not been aware of how closely Bowie monitors and controls his legacy and the background to why he won't bring out unreleased material is enlightening. DJ clearly knows Bowie far better than the rest of us, but he never claims to be close to him or even understand what makes him tick. He's also scrupulously fair in letting other players (Trevor Bolder and Woody, in particular) have their say - some of it not particularly complimentary although I sense Bowie knows this anyway. The earlier chapters on the 1970s and that TOTP appearance are also good but, if you weren't there, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. Hey, but if you were one of those rushing home with your copy of Aladdin Sane, then this is the book for you.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2013
Some interesting passages and I like the enthusiasm but whole is no more than a decent magazine article padded out to book length.
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on 5 February 2015
Great book in great condition. Thanks for sending me it very quickly. I am very happy
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