Friday, March 27, 2009
STATION TO STATION
Trains clatter for over a minute, then guitar feedback takes over followed by bass, drums and piano. "The return of the Thin White Duke, throwing darts in lover's eyes" is the first, seemingly unfathomable lyric. Building from here, the title track unfolds into one of Bowie's best and most ambitious songs. Running just over ten minutes, it gains joyous momentum and fades on a high note.
Now, if only every artist's cocaine fueled delusions resulted in music like this...
Seriously fine record from a guy who, by his own admission, was in fairly sorry shape at the time. His habit of adopting and shedding characters to theatrically project the music that he was releasing was soon to be abandoned. The "Thin White Duke" persona seemed to be the epitome of style and detachment, though its hard to argue with an end product like this. Even if he had thrown on a chicken costume, it would not have detracted from strong material like "Golden Years" and "TVC 15". "Wild Is the Wind" was the lone cover song and he makes it his own.
Bowie had turned an abrupt corner with "Young Americans", leaving the glitter, mullet and alien Ziggy era behind in favor of Philly Soul stylings and a more conservative look. "Station to Station" raises the artistic game quite a bit higher, with experimental textures shaking hands with hard hitting funk. Lyrically, there seems to be a lot going on, though not much that could be readily understood by anyone other than the author himself.
Overall, he took a giant creative leap ahead of his time here and I'll crawl out on a limb (though not by myself) in naming it as the best record he ever made. The next four discs would cement his reputation as a major artist (with a capital A), though they would see his commercial fortunes wane somewhat.
Now, especially for the Bowie-obsessed, here is some great rehearsal footage, shot in Vancouver on the 1976 tour.