Station to Station by David Bowie

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Station to Station by David Bowie
Station to Station by David Bowie

Album Released: 1976

Station to Station ::: Artwork

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1.Station To Station10:11
2.Golden Years4:00
3.Word On A Wing5:50
6.Wild Is The Wind6:00


A dramatic turnaround and a break from Bowie's old sound, beginning a phase that would produce his most uncommercial and arguably most influential music.

Bowie hits a funkless, robotic, very European groove, spiced with Heavy Metal guitar and ambient sound effects, thereby helping create the sound of the 80's (and 90's for that matter, as his tour with protege Trent Reznor attests).

The four great cuts and the one good cut may be the greatest music Bowie has produced. The problem is that there's only six songs, which is not remedied by the reissue which only contains a couple of useless live versions as bonus tracks.

The bad cut is the camp cover "Wild is the Wind" - why does he keep doing that?!? The good cut is the thumping "Stay", with great guitar via Carlos Alomar. Now for the great stuff: at 10:08 the title track goes on for too long, but where else has the sound of trains whooshing been used so musically? As a response to Kraftwerk's "Autobahn", it's passionate, and dare I say it - coldly, roboticly funky in a way those West Germans have never approached.

"Golden Years" was the hit - disco for the retirement village set. Bowie struggles to find God in the lovely ballad "Word On A Wing", which contains the apt line don't have to question everything in heaven or hell. And "TVC15" - wow! I don't know what the hell it's about, or have the first clue how to describe it. It's kind of jazzy and driving at the same time, and organic and computerized at the same time too - maybe you'd better just hear it yourself.

But as I say, Station to Station only has six tracks, and they all go on too long. And it's not as accessible as his early work, so newcomers should probably start somewhere else. Me, I keep on shakin' mah thang.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)

The opening sounds of mechanics and trains indicates that perhaps David Bowie had discovered Kraftwerk about this time, and the following year's Low would reinforce that.

Anyway, the epic opener is something you really have to get your head around in order to enjoy this album to any real extent. Apart from that title song only five other songs are present, and one of those is the inexcusably simplistic pub-rock of "TVC15", easily the worst of the bunch.

Still, going back to the opening title track, it's a song that introduces one of Bowie's great character creations - the Thin White Duke. The song sounds magnificent, with good lyrics, though it didn't need to be as long given its position at the start of the album, rather than say the end. That seems a poor decision as far as sequencing the album is concerned.

A far better opener, as a knock-out punch to follow-up the hugely successful Young Americans, would've been "Golden Years", a classic Bowie single, riding on a strong funk guitar groove and pop hooks in the chorus.

Bowie was apparently so out of his head on cocaine that he can't even remember recording this album. Such a fact makes the sheer beauty of "Word On A Wing" even more remarkable - whatever Bowie was experiencing in his personal life, with him becoming ever more remote, the feeling in the vocals of "Word On A Wing" is something to be treasured and marvelled at. Luxurious backing vocals, also provided by Bowie, also enhance the track hugely.

I've already mentioned "TVC15", a song I've never quite been able to enjoy. It does have some merit, the introduction is kooky. Sadly, the song deteriorates as it progresses, with uninteresting lyrics and an absence of strong vocal hooks. Still, it breaks up the album, the following song being another wonderful track, a brilliant funk / soul track that could've come from the pen of Isaac Hayes, circa "Shaft".

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

It was as though the weakly blue-eyed-Soul guy from Young Americans suffered a heart attack and died, and then a mad scientist stole his corpse and turned him into Robocop.

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 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. What's more, this album absolutely rocks.

On Station to Station, Bowie has successfully taken R&B and melded it in his own twisted image, and the result is one of the most uninhibitedly enjoyable albums I've ever heard, easily one of my favorite albums of all time.

There are only six songs here, meaning most of them are insanely long, notably the 10-minute title track. But holy hell, all of these songs pick up so much steam they're 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.

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 last song he wrote of that length was “The Cygnet Committee” from Space Oddity, which I'm sure we all remember was charming but dull. “Station to Station” however is the sort of song that draws you in right from the moment its stilted groove begins, and it doesn't let go until the fade out. The thematic idea of the song was (surprise surprise) trains ... the track begins and ends with an extended soundbyte of a steam locomotive. But the groove itself, all chugging and mechanical, sounds like an R&B representation of that train. Cool idea!

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

Bowie's transition from the soul sound of Young Americans to the electronic experiments of Low makes Station to Station a bridge between those two phases. Jerky rhythms and a disquieting atmosphere characterise this album, even though the palette is largely limited to the basic guitar, piano, bass, and drums.

Bowie's backing band has changed completely since his Spiders from Mars days, with guitarist Carlos Alomar, drummer Dennis Davis, and bassist George Murray forming a nucleus that would persist until the start of the 1980's, all three contributing heavily to the distinctly experimental yet funky sound of Bowie's late-70's period. Springsteen pianist Roy Bittan is onboard too - just for this album - and his playing meshes beautifully with Alomar, his fluent arpeggios filling the spaces between Alomar's twitchy rhythm guitar.

For Station to Station Bowie invented a nasty persona called the 'thin white duke', named in the title track as one throwing darts in lovers' eyes. Bowie also claims that he was too blitzed on cocaine to remember recording the album at all, which is a strange assertion to make for what is perhaps his best-realised work.

Station to Station is sequenced perfectly, its six tracks bouncing between longer and more experimental tracks, and shorter pop songs. The opening title track is the longest at 10 minutes, and one of the most experimental songs in Bowie's catalogue, it's captivating despite the lack of any clear structure, recalling his participation in a 'Stations of the Cross' religious service in Berlin.

"Golden Years" and "TVC-15" are two supremely strange yet captivating singles, the latter especially a bizarre take on the soul idiom, consisting of a collection of chants, rolling piano, and jerky beats. On the other hand, the ballad "Word on a Wing" is plain gorgeous, and - uncharacteristically for Bowie - it's one of the most blatant pieces of God rock to come from a secular artist, with Bowie going so far as to write Lord, I kneel and offer you my word on a wing.

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by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia (blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct])