So this is only my second album for my Classic Albums post and that was the point of starting this thingy, to just write about some of my fave albums here. I kind-off got a bit side tracked on other stuff. Here goes then, hopefully the third Classic Albums post will be a bit sooner.
Well, if I had to pick only one David Bowie album it would have to be Station To Station. It’s only a little bit older than me, the album was release in January 1976 and I was born a few months later.
The story about recording it goes that Bowie don’t even remember doing it because of all cocaine he was taking at the time. Los Angeles was it where it recorded so it’s become know as his kind-off Los Angeles cocaine album now. A NME writer at the time seems to have created a myth about it being totally completed in only 10 days but because it seems the songwriter does not remember anything others can fill in the blanks and David off course does mind a good myth or two anyway. they’re just so many other recording sessions around the same time I don’t believe that and no one should believe that’s what happen maybe he was just finishing up the album. It’s not like NME magazine has never made-up a good story before and just a guess here but could that writer be joining in all the drug intake too because what I’ve read about these sessions all the musicians were all wasted too.
The movie and to be David’s first major film, The Man Who Fell To Earth has a lot to do with the album, not only does the black & white cover artwork was taken from the movie but he was to do the soundtrack but that was abandon. He started to write something called The Return Of The Thin White Duke on the set which off course become the “character” and the album’s opening song, title track, the epic ten minute long masterpiece. Reading about this album it’s seen as a bit of a transitional album, a bridge in between the funk and soul album Young Americans and then moving to Europe for his next albums, for the so called Berlin trilogy or triptych but I see it more than just that. More does seem to be written before and after this album which is a pity but I guess if everyone was up to there eye-ball in cocaine what can you do?
So I did this quiz and sorry to say but I really relate to The Thin White Duke “character” because to start with he just look cool dressed in that white shirt, black trousers and a waistcoat, wish I could wear that everyday. This “character” started with that movie about an alien and Bowie turn it into persona for the album, the tour and the next few months or so, it has been called of course unfeeling and/or heartless which I have been called plus I also love to sing a love song. This is also symptom of those fast white drugs being and/or feeling completely numb and detached but also feeling hugely emotional at the same time. It has be said this album has the feeling of in between balancing act the high and the comedown of those drug too and maybe I like that feeling too! I don’t really relate well to a lot of other people so I get isolated easy but I don’t know if I make it cool, mostly likely I piss a lot of people of so they don’t think I’m very cool at all, I don’t know but after awhile I don’t really care so I guess it’s alright. One last thing I’ve never been arrested because I’m too superior for the police, ha!
“The return of the thin white duke throwing darts in lovers’ eyes” is the open line after the music has been playing for quite a while on the epic opening number, then a little later at the start of the chorus “It’s not the side effects of the cocaine, I’m thinking that it must be love, It’s too late to be grateful, It’s to late to be late again”. I could write out all of Golden Years lyrics, maybe the closest thing to the previous album but only musically. Well the lyrics to Word On A Wing is masterclass too. TVC15 gets even even odder, Bowie has say before that’s about a television eating Iggy Pop‘s girlfriend or something? But who cares the song is just totally wicked. Stay is another classic Bowie love song. Then finishing the album with a cover song Wild Is The Wind original written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington and originally recorded by Johnny Mathis in 1957 but it’s Nina Simone version he’s doing it after, after meeting her in L.A. in 1976. I should really write more about these songs because they do mean so much to me but I just want to write about at least a couple more things.
Can I say this album so very post-punk? Even before or as punk music or style was only just hitting the street, can you hear a bit of Public Image Ltd. here? You know like Romance Of Flowers album? The alienation in the music and lyrics is so very post-punk too but I don’t think I would be the first to say such a thing too. Another reason this album might be a bit skipped over is all his Fascist and Nazi things that happened around this time, detention by customs in Eastern Europe for possession of Nazi memorabilia, saying that “Britain could benefit from a Fascist leader” and then ‘the Victoria Station incident’ where he arrived in a Mercedes convertible and apparently gave a Nazi salute to the crowd but all this was blamed on the “character” of The Thin White Duke not Bowie himself. Again think about and all the post-punks who loved that stuff like say Ian Curtis naming his band Joy Division, Siouxsie Sioux wearing Nazi arm band etc.
An ex-gf and her mother were total Bowie freaks so for years I didn’t have to put any David on myself because they did almost did every time they got together but over time this album just rose to the top of all his stuff and love it when it came on. Now that’s all over and done with, I’ve got my own copy and put it on myself now. I did get to see that suit last year too in Melbourne at big Bowie show and I put my headphones on to listen this album while I staring at it even if they were playing him non-stop in the gallery, it had to be that album and image him wearing it not a dummy mannequin.
So with only six songs on the album it could be an EP really but all are very long tracks, only Golden Years coming after the song Station To Station is four minutes. The next two are over five minutes then the last two are six minutes long. I do love a longer song too, two or three minute tracks are just too short really. Adding up to a total playing length of just under 40 minutes, pretty great way to spend it. I also love how all the words bleed together like on the cover, album title and artist all as one long red word in bold caps lock, on the inside cover all songs titles are written the same way but maybe that’s my dyslexic again.
PS: I love what Moby had to say about it here.
Station To Station track listing and times:
1. Station To Station – 10:14
2. Golden Years – 4:00
3. Word On A Wing – 6:03
4. TVC15 – 5:33
5. Stay – 6:15
6. Wild Is The Wind – 6:02