Saturday, January 14, 2012

Best of Bowie: 35 - 31

35. "Fame" (Young Americans - 1975) - One of Bowie's more famous collaborations in his long and sordid career would have to be with John Lennon in 1975. After sessions wrapped up for "Young Americans" in Philadelphia, Bowie sauntered up to NYC for a bit where he hung out with Lennon and decided to do a few more tracks. One was a cover of "Across The Universe" and the other was "Fame," one of Bowie's biggest hits. In fact, up to that point, it was Bowie's first #1 in the USA. The song is a three-pronged attack of brilliant writing. Carlos Alomar's groovy as fuck riff was the inspiration, Bowie's anger toward his record company at the time fueled the sinister lyrics (akin to but not as sharp tongued as Queen's "Death On Two Legs" recorded the same year) and Lennon's on voice heard as backing vox as partial credit for inspiring the lyrics added by Bowie after the fact. It's definitely one of the best of Bowie's hits and a worthy player among the many Greatest Hits in Bowie's catalog.

34. "Modern Love" (Let's Dance - 1983) Whether Bowie's Let's Dance was the beginning of the end of Bowie's brilliant run of albums is up for debate. Let's be honest, released the year of my birth and chock-full of fantastic pop rock goodness, a song like "Modern Love" is undeniably awesome. Guitar care of Stevie Ray Vaughn and an insatiable dance-hall beat, this is one of Bowie's best singles. It may also be nostalgia as this was one of the first Bowie songs that I loved. Of all music growing up, Bowie's has held up the most and stayed with me over the years. Much like many songs on this list, "Modern Love" is driven by fantastic saxophone care of Robert Aaron. It's possibly one of the better sax solos in all of Bowie's songs.

33. "Warszawa" (Low - 1977) On the polar opposite spectrum of "Modern Love" comes one of Bowie's most menacing tracks. It's also one of the more curiously composed tracks in his catalog. Music credits go to Brian Eno while the vocals were composed by Bowie, mostly in some foreign, strange language. The music was composed much like that of Bowie's experiments with ambient music. Bowie added his vocal parts, apparently 120 of them, to the track after the fact much in the way that the music was developed. Sporadic click tracks marked the place where chords would be placed and the music and lyrics were added on top of that. Crazy, but it leads to a beautifully haunting track, inspired by the dismal and depressing feel of Warsaw during Bowie's visit in the 70's. It's one of the best sound-scapes in Bowie's catalog and the best of all of Bowie's ambient forays during his"Berlin Trilogy."

32. "Fashion" (Scary Monsters(And Super Creeps) - 1980) Bowie's first album of the 80's is a bit of an underdog. Even on this list I've shafted a few tracks that may have made the cut. tony Visconti has stated that this was his favorite album to produce for Bowie. On "Fashion," we're treated to a sonic feast of awesomeness. The key to this catchy and dancey tune is all in Robert Fripp's howling solos. Amidst the back drop of a groovy guitar riff and a marching drum beat, Fripp adds delightful intensity via his signature guitar tone and one-take technique. The Fripp Factor is prevalent all over this list, but these guitar solos are some of his best outside of King Crimson.

31. "The Man Who Sold The World" (The Man Who Sold The World - 1970) Partial credit first goes to Nirvana for covering this great, almost forgotten Bowie track. "The Man Who Sold the World" was a song I had not known of as a young, greatest hits Bowie fan growing up, but Nirvana was a small part in growing into a super-fan. Bowie's original is much eerier than Nirvana's competent cover, filled with strange percussion floating over the creepy Moog organ. The song is yet another in the catalog of split identities. Some have speculated the song to be about his brother, who was a schizophrenic. Speculation aside, the eeriness of both this song and the album that shares its name is one of the strongest points in the early stages of Bowie's career.

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