Station To Station

(1976), 10/10
Station To Station has a unique place in Bowie discography – it’s the transition between the soul sound of Young Americans and the electronic experiments of Low, but the odd mixture of styles gives it a singular identity. Jerky rhythms and a disquieting atmosphere are achieved, even though the palette is largely limited to a basic guitar, piano, bass, and drums set up. Bowie’s backing band has changed completely since the Spiders From Mars days, with guitarist Carlos Alomar, drummer Dennis Davis and bassist George Murray forming the nucleus of his band through until the start of the next decade. Springsteen pianist Roy Bittan is on board just for this album and his playing meshes in beautifully with Alomar, his fluent arpeggios filling in the space between Alomar’s twitchy rhythm guitar. For Station To Station Bowie invented the nasty persona the “thin white duke”, named in the title track as “throwing darts in lovers’ eyes”. Bowie also claims that he was too blitzed on cocaine to remember recording this album at all, which is a strange assertion to make for what is perhaps his best realized work.

Station To Station is sequenced perfectly, its six tracks bouncing between longer and more experimental tracks, and shorter pop songs. At ten minutes the opening title track is the longest, and one of the most experimental songs in Bowie’s catalogue, captivating despite the lack of a clear structure, recalling participation in a Stations of the Cross religious service in Berlin. ‘Golden Years’ and ‘TVC-15’ are two supremely strange yet captivating singles. On the other hand, the ballad ‘Word On A Wing’ is plain gorgeous, opening out from a tentative piano introduction. ‘Stay’ is an overlooked Bowie album track with riffing from Alomar, which leaves closing cover ‘Wild Is The Wind’ as the only song that’s not totally sensational, and it’s still a strong piece, providing a peaceful yet moody closure to an album of sensory overload.

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