Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Desert Island discs 12 Station to Station by David Bowie


12 Station to Station by David Bowie 1976

What a great way to celebrate my birthday than with a bit a Bowie and my only choice from the 70s

There was a time when I was maybe a tad too obsessed with David Bowie. It all started with Ashes to Ashes and then a friend at school lent me a load of compilation tapes and I was hooked. Other pop stars (often his bastard children) looked a tad boring and I started to realise that the bands I currently liked would never be able to reinvent themselves as he consistently had.

Part of the attraction was that growing up in Spalding the biggest tribe were the mods (with skinheads pushing them a close second - whose annual tradition it was to pull down the town xmas tree on New Year's Eve) , and ironically considering his early days , the mods hated David Bowie , which was an added bonus. His music really did define which side of the taste fence you sat.

Gradually he became to define what I liked in terms of music and was the yardstick against all others were measured.

At the height of my madness for some  reason I offered to write my sisters CSE history project for her. I chose the albums of David Bowie. Even though she copied out every word , I'm not sure how I thought some pretentious meanderings could ever look like the work of a 15 yr old Whitney Houston fan. I'm not sure what mark she got , but I remember being genuinely puzzled as to why she hadn't scored the top grade with some kind of special award for outstanding work.

Favourite lps of his changed with the weather but this one stayed the course. I went through a phase where all my school essay titles were written in the style of the cover WITHNOGAPSBETWEENWORDSANDINCAPTIALS  typing this I can see how annoying this must have been for my English teacher and that the detention I got was fully deserved.

Everything about this lp fitted perfectly the mix of American Funk and European krautrock, the fact there were only 6 songs , the black and white photo from the Man who Fell to Earth, the glacial title track. ,all put together in what surely was the side effects of the cocaine and not love.


It seems like every singer I liked at the time secretly wanted to be The Thin White Duke

There is desperation in Word on a Wing , a weariness in Golden Years , a plea in Stay , a declaration in Wild is the Wind and a bit of bonkers in TVC15

Add in one of the great guitar riffs This clip is worth it on the strength of the introduction alone


 And then right at the end a heart breaking cover and a vocal performance that would be used to highlight what a great singer by us few and what an awful singer he was by the Spalding many


Word on a Wing is about as spiritual as he gets - this clip comes from about the time he released the Hours lp (one of the many ..."return to form" lps)



The one song that I used to play to death on an lp worn out by overuse was the finger clicking , hand clapping Golden Years , a kind of bridge back to Young American and looking at this clip from soul train never has "nothing is going to touch you in these golden years" sounded so misguided and hollow? He wrote and sang the words but the voice said he didn't believe them



I better stop before I descend into complete drivel but next it was escape to Berlin...

21 comments:

  1. First a bit of housekeeping. Folks, don't be disappointed there are no downloads this time around. Your host knows what he's doing. I posted "Panic in Detroit" a few years ago and almost got shut down. It was my first lesson in blogging... beware of Bowie. Everyone should have this record by now anyway.

    I really like this pick. Not an obvious choice. It's so often overshadowed by the Berlin Trilogy. In my 13th and 14th year, "TVC15" was, by far, my most played song. There was something about the boogie-woogie piano that was gold to my ears. No, I didn't say "Golden Years." Even now, that song instantly takes me back to the beanbag chair I used to sit in (with the album cover in my lap) as the vinyl turned on the family stereo.



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    1. Hi Brian - agree it is often overlooked but in the early 80s this was the one that a lot of people I liked referenced

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  2. As Brian says, not an obvious choice but a good one. All of Bowies 70's output is pure gold. I however would go for his early 70's material.The quartet of Hunky Dory/ Ziggy/ Aladdin Sane/ Diamond Dogs really is outstanding.
    #12 The Bluebells - Sisters. Their one and only proper album contains all their great singles. 'Young at Heart' is ,ofcourse, their best remembered song and does ,today, suffer from overplay but still one of my favourite tracks of all time .Add to this 'Cath' and 'I'm Falling'and there's 3 of the best singles to come out of the 80's.
    Here's another beauty,'Will She Always Be Waiting'
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6sm6IWvb-w
    Phil

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    1. I'm Falling is a classic - I've also got a follow up lp that I think was a japan release only which is also top quality

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    2. Yes, that would be 'Second'. Agree a top album but made up of the demos that should have been their follow up album.
      Phil

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  3. Loved STATIONTOSTATION almost as much as Bowie's hair at the time.
    TVC15 was the track when it all goes BV bonkers at the end.
    And 'the two wind songs' were beauties highlighting what a great crooner Bowie was.
    Nina Simone does a stunning, tremulous version of 'Wild is the Wind'
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiVDzTT4CbE
    Bluebells were a bit slight for my furrowed brow Phil; sound nice now...

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  4. Happy Birthday btw David.
    Lots of pressies?

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    1. spoilt as ever - also got taken to the V and A this am to see the bowie exhibition - all I could think of was who kept all this stuff! Well worth a visit

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    2. one thing that struck me is what a load of nonsense all the fuss about the new lp cover is. Bowie has always referenced his past. The cover to Scary Monsters (the exhibition has the original mock up of the art) has washed out covers of the berlin trilogy on it. I used to have a poster shot to promote heroes that has a black and white bowie sat on a bed with his head in his hands whilst a poster of a ziggy era bowie leered down at him from the wall above, the video to boys keep swinging has him wipe make up across his face to form some kind of scary Aladin sane imagery .. I could go on but better not

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    3. Well the gifts are all unwrapped I'm sure youre not that interested in a camera lens and golf rule book however also got

      - Tracey Thorns auto biog
      Kent Harufs final book in a loose trilogy - I'd heartily recommend Plainsong and Eventide Trev right up your street
      - new cds from suede, edwyn Collins , ricky ross, blow monkeys , frightened rabbit , billy bragg , reissue of a blue aeroplanes lp ,
      - rather nice shirt

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    4. Very jealous! Have a Happy Birthday, oh I see you did!
      Now going to check out the new albums from Ricky Ross and The Blow Monkeys that I knew nothing about.
      Phil

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    5. There are rules to golf? Blow me...
      Kent Haruf's 'Eventide' is atop my reading pile. I loved 'Plainsong'. Amazed that the Coen brothers haven't picked it up...
      We're seeing Edwyn at some Kent festival (Hops Farm) in the summer; Di crazy for Rodriguez (Sugar Man etc). I love festivals as much as I love Saurez so... joy.
      Did the shirt come with a receipt?

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    6. no and alas lacking a jesus as well

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  5. I was always too much of a wimp to embrace Bowie. I've led a very sheltered life, and this guy was always the epitome of creepy when I was younger. However, I have to admit to liking Space Oddity, Heroes, the singles off Let's Dance, Under Pressure, a few others. A definite blind spot that I'm sure all will find peculiar...

    #12 - U2 - "THE JOSHUA TREE" (1987)

    - Love U2... Hate U2... Love U2... Hate U2... I've been the most unloyal follower of these wee leprechauns. I was quite a massive fan for years, right up until shortly after Joshua Tree's release, when the band became um, massive with the entire bloody universe. Naturally, it was time to mutiny... So I pretty much ignored their bombastic "ironic" period of giant lemons, hovering Trabants, MacPhisto, Popmart, blah, blah, blah... pretentious BS as far as I could see.

    It wasn't until over a decade later, when they ditched all the glam & sham with 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' that I took notice again. A great pop-rock record. Then one night a broadcast of the "Elevation Tour - Live from Boston" came on TV. I was completely blown away. Intense, emotional, breathtaking stuff. Crap, they really were the world's best rock band! Until The End Of the World, Bad, I Will Follow, Elevation, Stay, The Fly, Desire, Kite etc... all absolutely electrifying performances. The highlight without a doubt, Where The Streets Have No Name... simply a transcendental experience. I'd been oblivious to a ton of great music in that "lost" decade. I was reluctantly back on board with a popular band. Fickle as I am, of course that would change!

    U2 are a polarizing band, mostly thanks to Bono. No doubt he's a cocky, loudmouth rockstar, but I believe he's well-intentioned. I've seen film of him out helping with the lowest of the low, holding malnourished kids with festering wounds, snot, flies & excrement. Putting on a show? I think not. More of a man than I could ever be...

    You've gotta to give them an "A" for effort, vision, ambition and longevity. And say what you will, talented as well. Larry & Adam are as solid a rhythm section as you can get, Edge's minimalistic echo-laden guitar work has been seminal, and Bono the charismatic showman does have the pipes. I think we forget how courageous they've been with some of their choices. Brian Eno and his complex, obscure experimentalism after an album like War? The challenging sonics of Achtung Baby after Rattle & Hum? Giant cojones...

    Blimey! What happened? I'm off on a tangent... When I began compiling my Top 125 I wasn't sure about U2, since I've been scorning them again since laying their worst cowplop ever, No Line On The Horizon. However, I knew that there would certainly be a U2 record on the list, part of my history... After a long listening session of a dozen albums, I narrowed it down to Boy, Unforgettable Fire, Achtung Baby & Joshua Tree. I hadn't really ever embraced Joshua Tree completely, since I'd bailed on the band when this album went mainstream, but it truly is a powerhouse of a record. The Eno/Lanois production is brilliant, but it's still a "band" record, with a diverse batch of incredible, very dark tunes.

    I know most of you will beg to differ big-time with me on this one. I'm not likey to change minds, but I believe Joshua Tree is a powerful, uncompromising record. Even now, it sounds unlike anything else ever recorded, and deserves a top spot on my list...

    PS: Happy Birthday mate!!! Sorry about my long-winded & desperate defense of a band everyone probably loathes. I need an editor!!!

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    1. Got argument for the defence. I must admit I also have a love hate relationship with U2. I didn't really get all that flag waving early stuff and I'm afraid I'm left a little cold by Joshua Tree and as for Rattle and Hum..... However I love Ac Baby and even more so Zooropa (especially Lemon) - but then the next record, pop I think, was awful. Unforgettable Fire is a great title track and agree All That You Can Leave behind is as good a straight forward pop/rock lp as you are going to get. Since then I've had a listen on spotify and found nothing memorable at all. I should really listen to the Joshua tree properly . It is just that it was everywhere when it cam out (every room in halls of residence seemed to blast it out)I learnt to tune out whenever I caught a snippet of that guitar sound.

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  6. Yup, I understand how super-saturation can turn a good thing sour. Speaking of sour, I'm surprised that you love Lemon. That falsetto a turn-off for me! Taste is a funny thing, eh?
    TT

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  7. I love Lemon - - mainly due to those eno style male backing vocals (see James Sometimes). I tend to like u2 more when they are experimental Miss Sarajevo from the Passengers side project is another favourite. a bit more weirdness and a little less sincerity

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  8. Strangely, no Bowie in my list, especially given his importance in my pre-teen and early teen years. It's not that I don't think he deserves it, just that he doesn't need it. I'll get around to him at some stage given that I intend continuing this far beyond the initial 102.
    U2 were also an early love and I still have a soft spot for Boy. (A Day without Me) However, it was a relationship that turned sour and I thought the bombast grew to big to see around. I can't listen to them without the weight of my own prejudice and their self-importance getting in the way. But Bono did buy me a bottle of champagne once so he ain't all bad!

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    1. That's a problem; regardless of quality and vintage things always ends up going 'pop'... oddly, invariably followed by sour grapes...

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  9. Seamus: You Europeans are so nonchalant. Bono buys you a bottle... "He ain't all bad."
    Moi? Surely I'd be more than a wee bit star-struck, become a massive U2 fan again and forgive him of all his sins... except for that cowplop 'No Line On The Horizon'.

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  10. It's always going to be a tug of war between Station To Station and Heroes for me. And sometimes, if I am really getting daring, Lodger will sneak in and take over the whole affair. Station To Station is an album completely out of sync and breaks any linear trail which The Dame was projecting. Drugs, alcohol, Alistair Crowley, Los Angeles and that Motorik beat combined to create a genius moment in Bowie's career. In some ways it's terribly 70's - six songs, one over 10 minutes in length...but it's the album that cemented Eno's decision to work with Bowie and has to have credit for that.
    TVC15 is thoroughly modern. Wild Is The Wind is Bowie's Sinatra crooning moment! Golden Years sounds like some underground funk sounds coming from a ghetto storefront South Philly or Harlem. But it's Stay that I listen to over and over again. Ferry must have been SO jealous of this track. Japan created an entire career based on this track (and that is NOT a bad thing).

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