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David Bowie - Station to Station CD (album) cover

STATION TO STATION

David Bowie

 

Prog Related

4.01 | 336 ratings

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TCat
Special Collaborator
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars Many critics agree that 'Station to Station', David Bowie's 10th studio album, was one of his best, and I have to agree. Even though it was finished before he started work on the movie 'The Man Who Fell to Earth', there is a lot in this album that was inspired by that movie, including Bowie's performance character Thin White Duke. The album even features a still from the movie, where Bowie's character is entering the space ship that will take him back home. It was also a time when Bowie was abusing Cocaine and living off of a diet of peppers and milk, and he later claimed that he recalled nothing of the production sessions because he was always high.

The album reflects Bowie's obsessions of the time, namely with Crowley, Nietzsche, mythology and religion. The lyrics in the album prove all of this. The album was also important because it marks a transitional period in Bowie's music, which saw a lot of style mixing involving danceable funky music with the music of electronic bands like Neu! And Kraftwerk. The album was the 'gateway' to Bowie's 'Berlin Trilogy' which was recorded with Brian Eno between 1977 ' 79. Shortly after the release of Station to Station and with the culmination of all of Bowie's paranoia (which included a fear of Jimmy Page), Bowie decided to give up his bad habits of drug abuse.

The album also got him into trouble because of the character he created, the persona he put on during his concerts and in interviews. The Thin White Duke was not a pleasant persona, and the statements Bowie made while playing the role got him into trouble because it dealt with the character's views on Hitler. Bowie later said that the character was a 'nasty' person. Bowie eventually retired the character quietly.

The original album ended up with a total 6 tracks and a run time of just under 38 minutes. Every one of the tracks on the album ended up being released as a single of some sort along the way. Beginning with the title track 'Station to Station', Bowie presents his longest studio recording at over 10 minutes. Bowie stated that the song is about the Stations of the Cross, but the lyrics hint at Crowley, Kabbalah and Gnosticism. The lyrics also reference the Thin White Duke. It was released as a promo single in France, but edited way down to 3:40, and the track TVC 15 was the b-side. It begins with the sound of a train increasing speed, which is then copied by a droning guitar and a rhythm that increases in speed which is created by piano chords and drums, and the music continues to speed up. In the background, you can hear the famous harmonica riff that underlies the track. The track settles in at a moderate tempo and Bowie's warbly vocals start. After 5 minutes, the music suddenly becomes more upbeat as a new melodic section is introduced, and Bowie's vocals continue with hardly a pause. The 2nd part of the song continues in the upbeat, danceable manner for the remainder of the song.

'Golden Years' has the distinction of being the first track recorded for the album. It is also one of Bowie's most famous tracks. At one point, this was going to be the album's title track. The track is a funkier track than most of the other tracks on the album, more reminiscent of the previous album 'Young Americans'. The song was inspired by the topic of the song 'On Broadway' and has a lot of the same feel. Bowie was actually playing 'On Broadway' when he came up with the song. Bowie wanted Elvis Presely to perform it, but he declined. The song was the first single from the album, and it was quite successful and has been used in several TV series and movies.

'Word on a Wing', according to Bowie, was a revolt against some of the elements he was uncomfortable with in the filming of 'The Man Who Fell to Earth', and he wrote it in a depressed state. The vocals are quite emotional, and Bowie says that there is a real emotional attachment for him to the song, that the passion there is genuine. The song was edited and released as a b-side to 'Stay' in July of 1976. Where on the song 'Golden Years', Bowie was singing about his strong beliefs, in 'Word on a Wing' he is singing about the doubts he was beginning to have about his blind faith.

'TVC 15' was inspired by an incident when Iggy Pop hallucinated that the TV was swallowing his girlfriend while he was partying at Bowie's house. The song was released as the 2nd single from the album, but was more of a minor hit for him. The lyrics talk about wanting to crawl into a holographic TV so that the narrator can find his girlfriend, who crawled in before him. The melody is quite catchy as is the overall track, accentuated by mostly piano improvisation. The chorus is quite memorable, even though it is a bit quirky. The b-side to this single was a track from the previously released 'Diamond Dogs' album, 'We Are the Dead'.

'Stay' is based off of a funky guitar riff and a 'Shaft'-like feel with r&b rhythms, thick mellotron and percussion. The song was also released as a single, again in an edited version. It was also a minor hit in the US with 'Word on a Wing' as it's b-side. The song also is reminiscent of Bowie's own song 'John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)'. The song also has the most memorable guitar riff on the album. The beat is solid and infectious.

'Wild is the Wind' was originally recorded and written for Johnny Mathis and has been covered many times by a wide array of artists. Bowie's version is to a moderate rhythm and also contains one of his most heart-felt performances. It was released to help promote the compilation 'Changestwobowie' along with 'Golden Years' a few years later, thus allowing that every song on this album was released on a single.

This album was released before the production of 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' was finished, and Bowie hoped to be able to write the soundtrack to it. However, he was told by the producers, that his music would have to be considered along with all of the other submissions. Bowie got very upset and gave up working on the soundtrack, and then toured to support this album.

After all these years, the album is recognized as one of Bowie's best and most important albums as it marks the entry into his most influential and creative periods, but it also seen him break out of his addictions. For me, this is an essential album as it shows Bowie's transition and entry into his most creative period, but also because of the influential sounds of the album which would go on to influence punk and post-punk, not to mention several new wave bands and glam rock bands in the future. While it is true it might not be strong in it's progressive traits, I feel it is important especially as one who feels that progressive rock does also encompass other glam rock bands such as Queen and Roxy Music, not to mention early Genesis. So, I don't have any problems rating certain important Bowie albums such as this one at 5 stars.

TCat | 5/5 |

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