Bowie’s second album sees him veer far away from the campy cabaret and poetry of his ’67 outing and land somewhere in the vicinity of prog-rock, or maybe prog-folk. The album’s claim to fame is, of course, “Space Oddity”, Bowie’s first bona-fide hit single, which is a fucking awesome song.
The rest of the album is very listenable, though it’s still miles and miles away from the Bowie we’ll come to know and love in a few years. Wikipedia says “Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed” is reminiscent of Dylan, but it sounds pretty Zeppelin/Faces/Humble-Pie to me, and it’s utterly bizarre for me to hear this kind of thing on a Bowie record. “Cygnet Committee” is apparently Bowie’s longest song (9:35), and even ends with a stately, military march feel, which is a classic prog move.
This album is also notable for being Bowie’s first work with bassist/producer Tony Visconti, the man who will go on to produce Bowie for next decade, as well as produce a truckload of other artists (including Morrissey, which he will have in common with other Bowie alum, Mick Ronson).
Bowie is getting better, but I’m sticking with my “formative years” theory for now. We’re seeing inklings of what he’ll become, but we’re not there yet.