David Bowie: “Station to Station” (1976)
The best line about this album in the Wikipedia entry is: “During the sessions Bowie was heavily dependent on drugs, especially cocaine, and recalls almost nothing of the production.” Guitarists Earl Slick and Carlos Alomar also confirm both their own cocaine use and foggy memories of the sessions.
Which is pretty amazing, given that this is considered one of Bowie’s greatest albums. A heady mix of cabaret, Crowley occultism, “Young Americans” style funk, Kabbalah, Christianity, Nietzsche, and a hint of krautrock, this album brings us Bowie’s new persona of the aristocratic and impeccably-dressed Thin White Duke, and we get a glimpse of both where he has been and where he’ll be going once the Berlin Trilogy begins.
“Golden Years” is probably the stand-out track on this album, not to mention one of Bowie’s best singles. I love the title track as well, which despite clocking in at ten minutes is not even long enough for me. “Stay” is also fantastic, and “TVC-15” rocks along nicely. “Word on a Wing” and the one cover, “Wild is the Wind” (a tune made popular by Johnny Mathis in 1957, but which Nina Simone recorded on the late ’60s and inspired Bowie to take on the song) are a bit more melodramatic, which I’m not always nuts about. Still, they’re wonderfully done, and Bowie’s vocals are incredible.
It’s sort of amazing to think that this album was recorded mostly in 1975. There are so many moments that presage the “art rock” we’re going to see once 1977 hits and the ’70s really start dying. Bowie is constantly ahead of his time. I mean, in 1976, the rest of the world is listening to “Silly Love Songs” by Wings or Elton John and Kikki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart”.
Bonus: A drunk Bowie lip-syncs “Golden Years” on Soul Train (Bowie is one of the few white artists to ever appear on the show)
David Bowie – Golden Years (Soul Train)