Classic Rock Review

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David Bowie Station To Station (1976)

Station-to-StationFrom donignacio.com

It was as though the weakly blue-eyed soul guy from Young Americans suffered a heart attack and died, and then a mad scientist came along, stole his corpse, and turned him into Robocop. Except David Bowie doesn’t fight crime; he sings rock music! (He could probably fight crime if he wanted to, though.) Station to Station is very much the same sort of funky R&B album that Young Americans was except this is far weirder. And when it comes to David Bowie, the weirder it gets the better. The beats are far more mechanical and European, the melodies are more distinctive, the atmospheres are thick and drugged up, and Bowie’s vocal performances seem more natural and passionate. You know what else, the most important thing? This album absolutely rocks.

Yes sir, David Bowie had successfully taken R&B and melded it into his own twisted image, and the result is one of the most uninhibitedly enjoyable albums that I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting through. And this is easily one of my favourite albums of all time to sit through. There are only six songs on here, meaning that most of them are insanely long, notably the 10-minute title track. But holy hell, all of these songs pick up so much incredible steam that they are unstoppable. Even the ballads. Not even Superman could stop these songs. I mean, Superman might have been able to reverse time by spinning the earth backwards, but he’d be powerless against the sheer rockin’ power of Station to Station. (Superman probably would love this album, though. Logically, I would assume that Superman had super-good taste in music. He’d have no reason to stop it. Logically.)

The thought of listening to a 10-minute David Bowie song might be a harrowing idea when you first read about it. After all, the previous song he wrote that lasted about that long was “The Cygnet Committee” from Space Oddity, which I’m sure we all remember was charming but dull. …However, “Station to Station” is the sort of song that draws you in right from the moment that stilted groove begins to play, and it doesn’t let go until the fade out. The thematic idea of that song was (…wait for it…) trains; the track begins and ends with an extended soundbite of a steam locomotive! But the groove itself, all chugging and mechanical, sounds like the R&B interpretation of that train. Cool idea!

“Golden Years” was the hit single, a song that Bowie had originally intended for Elvis Presley. But good thing The King didn’t take it; he wouldn’t have sounded quite as cool singing it as Bowie would have. (Not that Elvis wasn’t cool; he just didn’t have it in him to give it quite the extra-terrestrial kick.) Also, “Golden Years” is by far one of the hookiest songs that Bowie had ever done, so it’s nice to hear it surface so predominately on one of his albums! “TVC 15” is another rabble rousing mechanical classic with bizarre lyrics about a television set gobbling somebody up. Who other than Bowie would sound convincing singing a song about that?. Bowie takes a moment to croon at us on “Word on a Wing,” but it’s a different sort of crooning than Bing Crosby; it’s more like crooning from a space-alien. I gotta assume a Roxy Music influence here! …Yeah, these songs are pretty weird.

And the album ends with what’s certainly his greatest cover of all time, “Wild is the Wind.” I had been listening to Station to Station for at least a couple of years before I even realized that was a cover! Bowie hadn’t been very well known for his covers, but he treats this song as though it were his own. In keeping spirit with the rest of this album, he incorporates a mechanical drum beat and a drugged-up atmosphere, but ………. Wow. Bowie’s vocal performance is so stop-dead-in-your-tracks fantastic that I can hardly believe it! By the end Bowie’s singing so passionately and gut-wrenchingly that I can’t help but feeling it right in the centre of my chest cavity. I can’t say that Bowie ever does that too often. He probably gave better vocal performances on “Heroes.” And also on “It’s No Game (Pt. 1).” But that’s about it.

Is Station to Station the greatest David Bowie album of all time? Nah, I don’t think so. Give me Ziggy Stardust over this anytime of the week. If it’s for no other reason, Ziggy Stardust was the more diverse and more joyous record. But I also don’t hold it against people who think Station to Station is superior. After all, Bowie had a lot of great albums each of a vastly different species, and it’s quite a chore for anyone to pick out a favourite. And then there are rumours that David Bowie was so hopped up on cocaine that he doesn’t actually recall recording this album. If that’s true, then this is a pretty glowing endorsement for cocaine!!!! …………But in all seriousness, don’t do cocaine. It’s bad.

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April 10, 2013 - Posted by | David Bowie Station To Station |

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