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Old 11-23-2021, 07:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Trollheart's Album Discography Reviews: David Bowie

Time to kick off another thread, this time dedicated to a man who has done more to change music than possibly anyone else in rock, and whose passing almost five years ago now shocked the world, and not just the world of music. There never was, and there never likely ever will be a man like Mrs. Jones's little boy.

We'll kick off with one which is universally loved and highly rated.
For the most part, I found that I disagree.

Station to Station (1976)

After the soul experimentation of Young Americans Bowie began looking back in a European direction, and though at this time he was in a very bad place, addicted to cocaine and other drugs, seeing hallucinations and living, apparently, in morbid fear of Jimmy Page (!) he still managed to put together one of his most significant albums, and one which would kickstart and presage the trio of albums to follow, which would become known as “The Berlin Trilogy”. This album would also cement the lineup that would carry him through the seventies and into the eighties, and would also give him more hit singles.

The title track kicks it off, and with typical Bowie usage of cliches in new ways there's the sound of a steam locomotive pulling into a station before Carlos Alomar's guitar wails in, creepy piano and then George Murray's thick bass pulls the track in, the vocal not coming in till a third of the way through the ten-minute opus. Bowie's first words are ”The return of the Thin White Duke”, the new persona, something of a carryover from his role in the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth, which would basically become the new Ziggy Stardust and would populate his albums for some time, also creating a stage persona for him. Some very nice restrained organ here till it suddenly kicks up the tempo about halfway and carries it through to the end. “Golden years” was a big hit, with its funky laid back rhythm and soft, almost crooned vocal, and after the energy of – at least the second half of – the title track it's a nice change of pace, and sort of harks back to the white soul of the previous album.

There's a lot of the soul from Young Americans, though a lot more restrained in “Word on a wing”, lovely song with a great piano line and some fine backing vocals; Bowie really does himself proud on the vocal here, pushing himself emotionally to the limit and indulging in some real spirituality, evidenced if nowhere else then in the almost angelic choral fade ending of the song. I've never been the biggest fan of “TVC15”. I know it's a popular song but it's always come across as a little weird to me, with its sort of honky-tonk piano line and sixties rock feel, to say nothing of the totally incomprehensible lyric: it's claimed that the song is about a TV set eating Iggy Pop's girlfriend, but I don't anything about that. The chorus is certainly catchy, even if it is just basically the title sung over and over. I feel the song overstays its welcome somewhat, becoming more or less a jam in the end. Nice to hear Bowie handling the sax himself instead of farming it out to the likes of David Sanborn, and he's pretty damn accomplished on it too. Good song, but not one of my favourites.

“Stay” I know nothing about. It certainly has a very funky, Bensonesque guitar opening with a throbbing bass and sounds like it may be one of the rockiest tracks on the album. Some great work on the frets by Carlos and the song itself, though rocky, has very much soul overtones to it, almost disco at times. Bowie has been quoted as saying that there is no emotion in this album, that even the love songs are disconnected, but I really don't see it, especially in a sublime ballad such as “Wild is the wind”, which closes the album. I'm amazed to find it's a cover of a Nina Simone track, as I had always assumed he wrote it (lyric sounds so much like something he would write) but you can't avoid facts. One of my favourite songs of his overall, and definitely in my top ten of favourite ballads from him. Love the big drum roll around the fourth minute. Beautiful song.

Track Listing

Station to Station
Golden Years
Word on a wing
TVC 15
Wild is the Wind

Almost unanimously, people rave about this as being Bowie's finest album, and while I do like it I don't agree. Firstly, it's only six tracks, and of them I know three already, so there was no massive surprise for me in this, my first listen to the album. Second, I feel there is no huge difference between this and other Bowie albums I have so far heard; I hear the change in styles beginning, yes, but it's hardly a seismic shift, not here. While the songs are all memorable and I most likely would listen to it again, I'm not compelled to any more than I would be to listen to, for example, Hunky Dory or The Man Who Sold the World. I don't get the love and adulation for this album.

That said, it was certainly the crossover point for Bowie to move into new and as yet uncharted territory, and as ever, he would be the one piloting the ship through his next famous three albums, pioneering new routes that others would follow in the years to come, and showing that, once again, nobody would ever be able to predict which way he would jump.

Rating: 7.5/10
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