Casey Kasem referred to him once as the “glam guru.” While the legendary American Top 40 radio host’s observation may have been accurate at the time, an aerial career overview of David Bowie now might reveal that he actually was the “chameleon king.” In fact, it could be argued that the London-born musician reinvented himself stylistically more often and more effectively than just about any other recording artist — ever.
His first few folk-flavored efforts in the late ‘60s bubbled a bit in the U.K., yet those waves failed to ripple across the “pond.” However, with his fourth record, Hunky Dory (and with a sparklier image), the 24-year-old singer/songwriter finally began making headway in the U.S. by 1971.
Branded briefly as the androgynous alien, “Ziggy Stardust,” Bowie became an international pop culture icon over the next five years. The albums, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Aladdin Sane, Pin Ups and Diamond Dogs, as well as a slew of companion singles, had catapulted the spiky-haired “starman” to undisputed “glam guru” status. Boasting a refined image and a redirected “blue-eyed soul” sound, his R&B-soaked 1975 album Young Americans was a worldwide smash — birthing two massive hits; “Young Americans” and “Fame.”
With the release of his 10th studio album, Station to Station, Bowie unveiled his latest persona, “the Thin White Duke.” A tag-team production effort between Bowie and famed pop engineer, Harry Maslin, (Carly Simon, Barry Manilow, The Spinners) the six-song set was recorded in late 1975. It arrived in stores on January 23, 1976, via RCA Records.
Although the chart-busting lead-off single, “Golden Years,” was a reflection of his recent fare, the full record would take on a decidedly more experimental tone — a direct influence of such (then) current electronic music artists as Kraftwerk and Roxy Music. It since has become recognized as one of Bowie’s most important records — the gateway between his successful past pop titles and his more future-focused Tony Visconti-produced, Brian Eno collabs; Low, “Heroes”, Lodger and Scary Monsters.
Reportedly dealing with a host of personal “distractions” during the Station to Station production, Bowie and guitarist Earl Slick both commented in later years that they recalled almost nothing of the recording experience. Possibly as a result of Bowie’s various alleged drug addictions, Station to Station was rather unbridled.
A bona fide bruiser, the opening title track arrives at various destinations throughout its mammoth ten-minute running time. Conversely, “TVC15” was a tight and concise temptation, while “Stay” was an electrified, funk-fueled delight — a stylistic yin to the lighter soulful yang provided by “Word on a Wing” and “Wild is the Wind.”
In sum, he was an artistic innovator — a bold risk-taker. His epic, decades-long career refused to pick a lane. As a result, David Bowie’s music continues to be fresh and relevant. 45 years on, Station to Station remains a true classic and a standout entry in his iconic catalogue.
Station to Station Track Listing:
1. Station to Station (10:15)
2. Golden Years (3:59)
3. Word on a Wing (6:04)
1. TVC 15 (5:31)
2. Stay (6:16)
3. Wild is the Wind (6:06)
Run Time: 37:54
Release Date: January 23, 1976
Record Label: RCA