Ziggy Stadust Made Flesh,
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This review is from: Jet Black Leather Machine (Audio CD)
As an overview of Taylor's complete career this CD is hard to fault, but, as other reviewers have stated, it runs out of steam towards the end.
Those seeking out the best of Taylor ie the early years should acquire The Barclay Sessions Vol 1, Le Rock C'est Ca (the first album), the EP Collection (and if you're going to buy one Taylor record, buy this) and Live At The Olympia (available from the appropriately-named Raucous Records).
It is easy, of course, to dismiss Taylor as a Gene Vincent copyist, but surviving film footage (see YouTube) shows that he had a great voice, terrific stage presence and all his own moves with the added factors that other British rockers of that time lacked: sex and danger.
Sadly, he also had a legendary appetite for drink and drugs (allegedly swallowing handfuls of pills without worrying too much about their origin or side effects), which led to him becoming increasingly erratic, unreliable and paranoid, culminating in an embarrassing incident at an important concert, where he spent most of the evening preaching to the audience in an attempt to convince them that he was the prophet Matthew...
Consequently, he parted company with his backing band the Playboys, who went on to work with Johnny Hallyday, whilst Taylor's bookings dried up, eventually reducing him to working as an airport janitor.
However, he still had loyal fans, particularly in France, who rallied round, helping him to control his addictions and to perform and record sporadically through the sixties and seventies, although he was a shadow of his former self.
It was during the late sixties that he encountered David Bowie in the street (who was a fan and recognised him) and persuaded Bowie to join him for a drink in a local bar, where he is reputed to have spent several hours ernestly informing Bowie of where the forthcoming alien invasion would take place and trying to convince him that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were trying to kill him, using poisoned chocolate cake !
Bowie was shocked, but fascinated and subsequently admitted to basing his Ziggy Stadust character on Taylor.
In the eighties he retired from performing, marrying his longterm girfriend and living quietly in the Geneva area, where he worked as an aircraft mechanic (a skill in which he had qualified before opting for show business as a career, which, bearing in mind the exacting standards required for aircraft maintenance would seem to suggest that he had not completely fried his brain).
He succumbed in 1991 to bone cancer.
Taylor remained a largely forgotten character in the history of British rock and roll, until the Clash drew attention to his ouevre through their cover version of Brand New Cadillac.
Sadly, there are no books currently in print about Taylor (although there is a long oop and unsurprisingly unreliable autobiography and a discography available in French, if you can find them), but there is enough surviving film footage to make a fascinating documentary on this most charismatic of performers.
Come on Julien Temple, you know you want to !