Thursday, September 13, 2012

Best of Bowie: 25 - 21

HOLY DELAY! Yeah, sure, I stopped posting again, but here we go.

25. "Speed Of Life" (Low - 1976) Kicking off the Top 25, the best of the best, is one simple, short yet effectively catchy instrumental, "Speed of Life." Originally set to have vocals, the groove laid down by Carlos  Alomar on guitar, Dennis Davies on other-worldy drums and George Murray on funky bass, this track has all the trimmings the first side of Low offers. Fantastically funky, groovy music overlaid with strange synths and other sounds. It's a testament to the new direction Bowie would take his music and the biggest departure from his glam years aside from Young Americans. Low is a watershed album and it gets off to a great start.

24. "Changes"(Hunky Dory - 1971) One of Bowie's essential songs, "Changes" is almost a mission statement for the rest of his career to follow. Bowie constantly was changing becoming a "different man" over the course of the next ten years. The piano hall crooner style of the song may seem kitchy, but in the world of glam rock, these sounds were part and parcel to the package deal.

23. "Width of a Circle" (The Man Who Sold the World - 1970) The best of the early Bowie albums may very well be The Man Who Sold the World. "The Width of a Circle" is a phenomenal rock track. An epic track with sneering guitars care of Ronno, possibly one of his best performances in his career, it really sets up the rest of the dark, hard rocking album. The dark themes intertwined in this dark rocker makes it sound more like a Black Sabbath song than a David Bowie track, but again, the chameleon once again proves his ability to take on any sound that may be thrown his way. The real kudos here goes to Ronson and Visconti in production. It's more his affair than Bowie's, but that's only a benefit to the listener.

22. "Rock And Roll Suicide" (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust - 1972) Bowie excells at mixing the grandiose with the rock and roll attitude. I almost think that this song is impossible to recreate in a live setting. Ronson's extravagant arrangements lift this song to it's great heights, and although you could strip it down, without the strings, you don't get that cinematic feeling that is all too important to the Ziggy Stardust story that precedes it. It may be about a washed up rocker, but nothing sounds washed up about it. The desperation in Bowie's vocal also brings this track home. Beautiful, haunting and a show stopper.

21.  "After All" (The Man Who Sold the World - 1970) Another great selection, this one is a dirge and a half. It's filled with the gloom of Aleister Crowley, the musings of Neitzche and lines pilfered from Through the Looking Glass. A nightmarish vision indeed, with a strange and dark carousel bridge that really ties the creepiness of the song together. Another track heavy with Ronno/Visconti overdubs, without them, it's a simple acoustic guitar song. With the overlayed sounds, it takes on an ethereal element not to be heard again until Bowie's Berlin era. This is one of the early era Bowie songs that you must hear. Not a single ever, but an important song nonetheless and ahead of it's time.

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