This Best David Bowie Albums listicle is probably one of the best ways we could think of to celebrate Bowie’s 75th birthday. We wanted to share personal reflections on these albums and thus limited the selection to five stone cold classics. in our humble opinion. Also, we bit the bullet and ordered this list according to merit. Here goes nothing….
Scary Monsters (1980)
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), also known simply as Scary Monsters, is the 14th studio album by Bowie, released on 12 September 1980 by RCA Records. The album came on the heels of the famed Berlin trilogy (viz. Low, Heroes and Lodger) – all of which received critical acclaim though were commercially muted. The album is significant for Bowie drawing a line in the sand to encapsulate his breakthrough in the 1970s and signalled a fresh start for the new decade.
Key tracks: “Ashes to Ashes”, “Fashion”, “Teenage Wildlife”, “Up a Hill Backwards” and “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)”.
Hunky Dory (1971)
Hunky Dory is the fourth studio album by Bowie, released on 17 December 1971 by RCA Records. Arguably, though the Ziggy Stardust announced Bowie’s arrival as a bona fide rock star, it was on Hunky Dory that Bowie firmly established himself as a singer-songwriter of significance. Largely stripped down and acoustic in presentation, the songwriting was very personal and included tributes to Bowie’s own heroes like Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol as well as to his young son, Zowie (Duncan Jones) in “Kooks”.
Key tracks: “Changes”, “Life on Mars?”, “Quicksand” and “Oh You Pretty Things”.
Station to Station (1976)
Station to Station is the 10th studio album by Bowie, released on 23 January 1976 by RCA Records. The commercial success of Bowie’s genre-changing previous album Young Americans allowed him more latitude when recording its follow-up. Thus, Station to Station may be viewed as a transitional album between the influences of African-American R&B-soul-funk and European art-rock.
Key tracks: “Station to Station”, “Golden Years” and “Wild is the Wind”.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (often shortened to Ziggy Stardust) is the fifth studio album by Bowie, released on 16 June 1972 in the UK by RCA Records. A concept album no less as Bowie reinvented himself completely – a masterstroke that earned him the success he had desperately craved since the 1960s. Often imitated but never quite matched.
Key tracks: “Ziggy Stardust”, “Starman”, “Five Years” and “Suffragette City”.
Let’s Dance (1983)
Let’s Dance is the 15th studio album by Bowie, released on 14 April 1983 by EMI America Records. Perhaps a surprising choice on this list but probably partly sentimental selection as well, considering this album was massive just as we were discovering pop music in earnest. In hindsight, the songs resonate strongly and found the right balance between art and commerce, with Bowie pointing the way for his multitudes of acolytes to 80s music making. The bad after-taste probably relates more to the fact that Bowie tried to replicate the album for the rest of the decade and failed miserably than to the quality of the album itself.
Key tracks: “Let’s Dance”, “Modern Love”, “China Girl”, “Without You” and “Ricochet”.
The Best David Bowie Albums serves to introduce the genius of David Bowie and to remember his glorious music on this, what would have been his 75th birthday.
… still there’s more …