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David Bowie - Space Oddity [Aka: David Bowie, Man Of Words/Man Of Music] CD (album) cover


David Bowie


Prog Related

3.35 | 334 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars While not Bowie's official debut, most fans choose to ignore the first album and come straight here as the start of Bowie's career. This album shows Bowie's first hints towards prog music (although the debut did not shy away from a little experimentation). Here Bowie brings up many hints of techniques and subject matter that would come up again and again in his varied career.

Now the first song is the most famous, and at first glance the title track seems to be a straight forward pop song, but the lack of a proper chorus, the distinctly separate intro/middle/instrumental outro amongst other things makes this a real progressive gem. Then there's the amount of musical styles force fed into a mere 5 1/4 minutes. Folk/rock/psychedelic/space/prog/pop are all words that could be applied to this opus. Throughout the album all these genres pop up again, but never again all at once. As everyone probably knows, this is a tale of an army major (named Tom) who goes up into space, and decides not to come down to face the harsh realities of life on Earth. In a song on a later album (Ashes to Ashes from Scary Monsters) it will be revealed that Major Tom is a drug addict, but that is for another review. All in all this a great song, and one of the best on the album, that has only lost some of its initial charm through repeated listening.

The next song, 'Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed' is a pop-psych tune. It is a very fun song with some totally far out lyrics. After listening to this album countless times it is no longer a standout track. 'Letter to Hermione' is the first ballad on the album, and a very beautiful one at that, telling of one of Bowie's real-life ex-girlfriends. Listening to the tune and the lyrics you can see that he is singing this with true sincerity, a touch that Bowie seemed to lose over the years. '(Don't Sit Down)' is a tune probably intended for comic purposes, and Bowie sounds high while singing it. It is a strange tune, with Bowie singing 'Yeah Yeah Baby Yeah' and 'Don't Sit Down' before he breaks out into uncontrolable laughter. Maybe it is to provide a bit of light relief before the next song, but it sounds very weak. 'Cygnet Committee' is David's first epic. It, like many, many future songs, is a science-fiction based (ish) tale, involving soem kind of messiah c.f. We are Hungry Men (s/t) The Supermen (The Man Who Sold the World) Oh! You Pretty Things (Hunky Dory) Ziggy Stardust (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars) et al. This epic goes through several stages, starting as a vaguely folky ballad, with a chorus, before progressing into a section of very random sounding lyrics, highlighting Bowie's knack for writing seemingly meaningful lyrics, while often he is just waxing lyrical about nothing in particular. Bowie would admit this technique himself in regards to some songs. Next is a very emotion sectuion with Bowie singing 'We want to believe', and then 'We want to live, and by the end of the song he is half singing hal screaming 'I want to live' until the song finishes. Unusually for a prog epic there is no instrumental section, but Bowie was never really a prog rock artist, just a very forward thinking and artistic musician, who's music happened to coincide with the prog scene from time to time.

Now we go back to almost pure Dylanesque folk-rock with Janine, a sweet, but unstartling tune with strange lyrics (but it would not be Bowie without strange lyrics). In the same vein we have 'An Occasssional Dream', a folk rock ballad, with a very pleasant tune. 'Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud' however is pure symphonic prog. In less than five minutes Bowie tells a tale with fantasy lyrics, with several sections and no real chorus. This is the most in line Bowie gets to Prog as a genre probably, but by no means his most progressive. This little gem would appeal to many prog fans on this site. 'God Knows I'm Good' is the closest to a throwaway song here, and also the closest to being pure pop, although the folkiness is still present. David Bowie's story telling for once, seems very quaint and uninteresting. 'Memory of a Free Festival' once again merges folk and space rock, creating another mini-epic. The first half of this song is the best, with good lyrics and tunes, but the second half is very repetive making its epicness slightly redundant.

This album sees Bowie still finding a niche. Throughout the next few albums, Bowie will explore various genres, before settling on glam rock for a while. But don't expect him to stay in one place too long, he is, after all a chameleon.

I will award this 3 stars, as a semi-progressive album that should appeal to folk proggers, and, to an extent, symphonic proggers. While not being essential to the prog world, it is DEFINITELY essential to Bowie fans.

burtonrulez | 3/5 |


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