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David Bowie: Best Albums & Biography | MOJO

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MessagePosté le: Ven 11 Avr - 10:07 (2014)    Sujet du message: David Bowie: Best Albums & Biography | MOJO Répondre en citant

The past, present and future legend, plus his 10 greatest albums. By Mark Paytress.

Back Story
BORN: January 8, 1947. London, UK
GENRES: Rock, glam, pop
YEARS ACTIVE: 1962-present

Famously, David Bowie has changed styles with more frequency than a Parisian fashion house. All the more impressive, then, that his catalogue – the most wide-ranging in popular music by some stretch – comes indelibly marked with his unique signature.

Ostensibly, there’s very little that unites, say, 1971’s Hunky Dory and 1997’s Earthling, either in terms of sound, theme or vision. But, taking his cue from pop artist Andy Warhol, Bowie significantly advanced the rock-star-as-brand concept, uniting it with a musical credo that insisted, sometimes jarringly so, on constant change. The approach has spawned numerous imitators – from Madonna to U2 – though none with a trademark of such quality that classic sets such as Let’s Dance and Young Americans fall short of the discerning MOJO readers’ voting threshold.

It’s a feat that even the similarly prolific Rolling Stones would struggle to repeat. But unlike the Stones, who rarely swerve far from the rock’n’roll highway, Bowie has revelled in the scenic route: Dylan-inspired poetic pop (David Bowie), dystopian disco (Station To Station), piano-pumping songsmithery (Hunky Dory), subterranean rock’n’roll pastiche (…Ziggy Stardust…), cold wave trailblazer (Low) and, memorably, mainstream pop idol (Let’s Dance).

Let’s not forget that for much of his first decade, Bowie’s creative antennae were largely attuned to the guessing game of pop trending clairvoyancy. But after July 1973, when Ziggy risked all by killing off the Spiders at the peak of his glam-era infamy, Bowie’s career has largely been a series of deliberate, elaborately staged vignettes. Not every makeover has been blessed with his best balance of vision and bravado, as the continued ridicule heaped upon his mid- and late 1980s work confirms. These momentary lapses of taste aside, and as his excellent, emotional 2013 comeback album The Next Day only confirmed, Bowie has never been a bland brand – always a class act.



ISO/SONY │ 2002

After numerous false alarms, this, Bowie's first 21st century set, finally lived up to the bynow-routine "Best since Scary Monsters... " hype. Ever since the late 1980s, when he'd sought to dissolve himself within the belly of a rock band, Tin Machine, Bowie had tried hard, perhaps too hard, to stay contemporary. On Heathen, and back with producer Tony Visconti for the first time since 1980, he managed to sound statesmanlike (Sunday), inspired (Slow Burn) and able to draw from all elements of his work with barely a hint of cynicism. Widely regarded as Bowie's "9/11" album, Heathen is also a masterly late flourish.


RCA │ 1977

Unlike its predecessor, Low, where song parts had been crafted with intricate, near surgical attention, "Heroes" opted for a more streamlined approach. Hovering between the two was the title track, still probably Bowie's genius Campbell's Soup Can moment – at once direct, mythic and utterly unforgettable. As with Station To Station, the extraordinary title track dominates, though in the case of this more rock-friendly restatement of Low everything else here virtually exists in its shadow. Beauty And The Beast and Black Out were quirky enough for new wave DJs to spin, the nifty V-2 Schneider more upbeat than any Low instrumental.

Scary Monsters... And Super Creeps

RCA │ 1980

The publicity line – "Often copied, never equalled" – trotted out for Bowie's first '80s set suggested that this was a comeback record – which, given the increasingly esoteric nature of his Berlin work, in some ways it was. With an accessible, left-field contemporary pop sound, and a headline-grabbing lead track, Ashes To Ashes (where Bowie updates Space Oddity, recruits a handful of emergent fashionistas and generally smothers himself in artful pastiche), Scary Monsters was and remains a template for the modem pop album. Duly reacquainting Bowie with chart-topping success, it set the scene for the most significant commercial move of Bowie's career, 1983's Let's Dance.

Diamond Dogs

RCA │ 1974

Ziggy might have jettisoned the Spiders, but this sounds very much like the third and final part of the Stardust trilogy, with its creator now alone and projecting into a dystopian near future. Dense, overwrought and submerged under a sea of studio trickery, Diamond Dogs is the black sheep of the Bowie canon, brilliant and baffling in roughly equal measure. The title track outstays its welcome, the Sweet Thing suite a dirge, We Are The Dead an unsung masterpiece of goth'n'gospel and Rebel Rebel regurgitated Rolling Stones. But it's precisely this loucheness that lies at the heart of the album's appeal.

The Man Who Sold The World

MERCURY │ 1971

From pointed, post-Dylan folk-rock message songs (All The Madmen, The Supermen) to progressively inclined riff-rock (The Width Of A Circle, She Shook Me Cold), TMWSTW sounded tailor-made for the new rock decade. With new guitarist Mick Ronson and producer/bassist Tony Visconti fleshing out the arrangements, and Bowie reportedly busking the sessions, the results are nevertheless oddly coherent and often inspired, making it a fans' favourite. But with Bowie still perceived as a one-hit-wonder, thanks to 1969's Space Oddity, it would take more than appearing on the sleeve in his 'man's dress' to win over the sceptics.

Aladdin Sane

RCA │ 1973

The previous year's ...Ziggy Stardust... album had been pure rock'n'roll fantasy. By contrast, Aladdin Sane was the full-on lived experience – rushed, extravagant, elegantly wasted. Unlike the slow-burn success of its predecessor, this feverishly anticipated follow-up suffered from the weight of expectation, and the secondhand Stones tics of Let's Spend The Night Together and Watch That Man didn't help. But venture further and there are delights a-plenty, from the Mick Ronson-ignited swagger of Cracked Actor to Mike Garson's sublime piano on the title cut and the delicious enigmatic finale, Lady Grinning Soul. Bowie called it "Ziggy goes to America", but Aladdin Sane is more than that: a crazed postcard from the edge of rock star unreality.

Station To Station

RCA │ 1976

Sandwiched between the 'plastic soul' gloss of Young Americans and the Krautrock-inspired austerity of the 'Berlin Trilogy' albums, S2S finds Bowie at his most debauched and despotic, a spiritually marooned new statesman of the dancefloor apocalypse. Much of that doomed perspective is down to the 10-minute title track (even its name eerily evocative of the Nazi SS), a nevertheless intoxicating feat of martial artistry with a career-best five-minute climax. The rest of the record is hardly less eventful, with two ofBowie's finest ballad performances (Word On A Wing, Wild Is The Wind) and a fabulous pair of funk floor-fillers (Golden Years, Stay) similarly top-grade.


RCA │ 1976

Though much has been made of the Eastern Bloc-inspired melancholia that hangs heavy over Low's largely instrumental second half (cf. W arszawa), it's the seat-of-the-pants avant-pop perfection of the opening seven songs that stands as towering testimony to Bowie's trailblazing spirit. The funk daring of Sound And Vision, the hamfisted elegance of Be My Wife, the clunkyyet spectral Breaking Glass and the hyperactive pop cacophony of What In The World - each and every one a brilliant reinvention of the short song format. Bowie, Eno and co-producer Tony Visconti, the creative triumvirate behind the so-called Berlin Trilogy, enjoying their finest hour.

Hunky Dory

RCA │ 1971

Just prior to the wish-fulfilment rock'n'roll melodrama of Ziggy, Bowie seemed in competition with piano-man Elton as much as Jagger and Bolan. Hand-tinted and still hippyhaired, the androgynous, stargazing Bowie of the Hunky Dory sleeve appeared woefully uncertain of his niche, but he was writing out of his skin - as that trio of evergreens, Oh! You Pretty Things, Changes and Life On Mars? confum. Quicksand was more Peter Hammill soul-searching than Bernie Taupin sentimentality, tributes to Dylan, W arhol and his son Zowie (Kooks) were generous, while Queen Bitch pointed towards a more upbeat, subterranean future.

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

RCA │ 1972

Valued almost as much for its era-defining status as for its musical worth, Ziggy is Bowie's Sgt Pepper: a rock'n'roll masquerade that exceeds the sum of its already excellent parts. There are more holes in the hastily sketched-out concept than The Beatles discovered in Blackburn, Lancashire, but Bowie's 11-song battering-ram into superstardom would never have worked without top-class material, neat, line-drawn arrangements and campish street-savvy tone. The blend of Velvet Underground swagger (Suffragette City), Eddie Cochran insouciance (Hang On To Yourself), space-age pop (Starman) and a full-on Judy Garland finale (Rock'n'Roll Suicide) blurred the boundaries between glam immediacy and album rock sophistication magnificently.

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