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David Bowie

David Bowie

I got into David Bowie because of his popular tunes like Modern Love, Starman, Space Oddity, the usual. After meeting enough diehard fans, I became interested enough to take a deeper look into his discography. Well, as you can tell, I did not become such a fan. I want to like David Bowie a lot, but I end up mostly finding a few songs on each album really great, and the rest I could mostly do without. I don't even go for all his music; as you can see, I have a rather limited sampling of his albums, and I tend to like the Berlin-era stuff most. While I have a lot of respect for his musical talent, and while he has a wide array of great tunes, David Bowie will probably never be one among my top artists.

Album Reviews

This album features a lot of acoustic guitar and an overall light pop sound. As is usual for Bowie, there are a couple of great songs, and the rest are split between good songs and ones I could live without. Nothing is egregiously bad, although there's a bit of a rough batch after Quicksand where I tend to lose interest in the album. Queen Bitch is a fun, rockin' tune which picks up the pace, however. The final song, The Bewlay Brothers, is a slow, menacing acoustic track to conclude the album. I really want to like it, and I imagine many do, but I just can't quite get into it. Anyway, this is the first in Bowie's discography that I find mostly enjoyable, and things only get better from here.

Best tracks:
1. Life on Mars?
2. Quicksand
3. Oh! You Pretty Things

I wanted to give this at least a 7, but even that seems like such a low rating for such a classic album. But I looked at the tracks, and it seems about right. Ziggy starts and ends strong, but like Hunky Dory, has a rough patch towards the end. The first four tracks are all great, but the cover of It Ain't Easy just doesn't do anything for me. It's hit and miss from there. Lady Stardust is nice, but Star is only decent. Hang Onto Yourself doesn't do anything for me, but then Bowie rocks again with Suffragette City. Rock & Roll Suicide is another slow, acoustic piece to close the album. It finishes the story and theme of Ziggy Stardust nicely, but as a song, it's OK. I can see how this album would have been a huge deal to people when it was new, as it took itself as a concept album much more seriously than say, Sgt. Pepper, but while the music is mostly good, it's basically a "pretty good" album for me.

Best tracks:
1. Starman
2. Moonage Daydream
3. Soul Love

Just a short, 6-track mini-album, but this is probably my favorite record of Bowie. I like every song on here, which I don't think I can say about any of his other releases. Unsurprisingly, it's a totally different bag than the glam rock of Ziggy: 3 funk/disco songs, 2 long and passionate ballads, and even a 10-minute progressive title track. Stay, my favorite of the funky tunes, features a nice long instrumental fadeout, showcasing Bowie's excellent backing band at this point. This is just the start of what I think is Bowie's best period of songwriting. The next few albums are great too.

Best tracks:
1. Station to Station
2. Stay
3. Word on a Wing

So Low is divided in half: the first is a bunch of interesting, hard to describe tunes. Many don't have much melody, their sound is comprised of Brian Eno's strange noises, they can be quite repetitive, the lyrics are weird, and I can't figure out what it is that appeals to me. But... it's really good, actually. I was really surprised when I got sucked into the songs. Basically all of the songs have some strange charm to them that I just can't decipher, although some more than others. Sound and Vision really doesn't do much for its entire running time, and yet it's my favorite song on here. Who knows. Meanwhile, the second half is a bunch of menacing instrumental pieces, mostly played on keyboards. Honestly, I almost never listen to it. I've listened through it a few times. Maybe with a few more dedicated listens, I would be pulled in. I do like atmospheric music. But for whatever reason, I just can't be bothered. Nonetheless, the first half alone is worth it.

Best tracks:
1. Sound and Vision
2. Be my Wife
3. Speed of Life

This album takes the same form as the last: the first half is a bunch of weird, but surprisingly danceable and funky, songs, and the second is atmospheric mood music. Once again, I basically only pay attention to the first half. It washes out similarly to Low. There are fewer tracks, but they are all really good. They aren't nearly as weird or quirky as on Low, and their appeal is much more obvious. They have catchy melodies. Oh, and then there's the title cut, a 6-minute ballad(?) which maintains a stately pace as Bowie's lyrics about love on the Berlin Wall build to a shouted climax. By far the most powerful song Bowie has ever written, and probably his most important single contribution to musical history.

Best tracks:
1. "Heroes"
2. Beauty and the Beast
3. Joe the Lion

Fast forward a few decades. This album was new when I started getting into Bowie, so I went ahead and checked it out. It's a decent album, but doesn't really stand out for anything. Most of Bowie's previous albums seem to have a special character to them, but this one is just a bunch of medium tempo rock. It's not the most exciting, but there are some great tunes. The first one, New Killer Star, definitely seems like the best on the lot. I quite like the George Harrison cover, Try Some, Buy Some too. Most of the rest is good. There's a piano ballad in the middle, The Loneliest Guy, which is just boring, and so is the following track, She'll Drive the Big Car. After that, the album goes back to being good. Even the long, jazzy closing song, Bring me the Disco King, has a certain charm to it.

Best tracks:
1. New Killer Star
2. Try Some, Buy Some
3. Days

Top 10 Songs

  1. "Heroes"
  2. Life on Mars?
  3. Station to Station
  4. Space Oddity
  5. Starman
  6. Beauty and the Beast
  7. Sound and Vision
  8. Modern Love
  9. New Killer Star
  10. Stay