Worst To Best: albums by David Bowie

After reviewing what I personally regard as the top 11 singles by the one and only David Bowie, I shall now review his albums. David Bowie has produced some of the most unforgettable albums in music history, even the tracks, including those that were never released as singles, are classics! So without further ado, This is my personal list of Worst to Best; Albums by David Bowie.

Keeping in mind that this is a personal opinion.

 

Number 27;…

  • David Bowie (1967)

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Tracklist: “Uncle Arthur” / “Sell Me a Coat” / “Rubber Band” / “Love You till Tuesday” / “There Is a Happy Land” “We Are Hungry Men” / “When I Live My Dream” / “Little Bombardier” / “Silly Boy Blue” / “Come and Buy My Toys” / “Join the Gang” / “She’s Got Medals” / “Maid of Bond Street” / “Please Mr. Gravedigger”

Style: Mod, Pop Rock, Music Hall

Overall Rating: 56.43%

If there’s one album I’d label the worst, it’s David’s self-titled debut one. It ain’t flat-out terrible. It was a fair starting point for young David who was roughly 19/20 back then. The various themes covered through the songs (i.e. drug use through Join The Gang and abortion/cannibalism through We Are Hungry Men) are interesting and Love You Till Tuesday is especially a nice tune, but the majority of the tracks ain’t as memorable as his later works and, yeah, the music hall genre…? If you class David Bowie as your favourite album, fair enough, but dude, did you listen to his other albums?

 

Number 26;…

  • Tin Machine II (1991)

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Tracklist: Baby Universal / One Shot / You Belong In Rock N’ Roll / If There Is Something / Amlapura / Betty Wrong / You Can’t Talk / Stateside / Shopping For Girls / A Big Hurt / Sorry / Goodbye Mr. Ed

Style: Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 62.5%

The second and final album by Tin Machine, David’s short lived Pop Rock band, also one of the most underrated bands in music history. Tin Machine II, despite the occasional enjoyment, proves to be a weaker album and lacks much themes and creativity, compared to their first one. And I’m a little unsure about the album cover…

 

Number 25;…

  • Hours (1999)

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Tracklist: Thursday’s Child / Something In The Air / Survive / If I’m Dreaming My Life / Seven / What’s Really Happening? / The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell / New Angels Of Promise / Brilliant Adventure / The Dreamers

Style: Electronic/Alternative Rock

Overall Rating: 66%

Following Earthling, David switches to a softer rock genre for his final album to be produced by the high profile record company, EMI. There’s nothing much I can say about Hours. It maybe soothing and is about 47 mins long, but it kinda feels longer and is a bit of a snore-fest compared to David’s other 90s albums.

 

Number 24;…

  • Space Oddity (1969)

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Tracklist: Space Oddity / Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed / Don’t Sit Down / Letter To Hermione / Cygnet Committee / Janine / An Occasional Dream / The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud / God Knows I’m Good / Memory Of A Free Festival

Style: Folk Rock, Country Rock, Space Rock, Psychedelic Rock

Overall Rating: 66.5%

Space Oddity, or David Bowie as the album was originally called, but was also called and I’m calling it Space Oddity to avoid confusion with David’s first album, was an improvement to his debut album. The opening track is a definite masterpiece and contributed to the exciting news that Neil Armstrong became the first guy to put his feet on the moon, and a cool collaboration with the incredible Rick Wakeman on the electric harpsichord and mellotron. Space Oddity is his first ‘rock’ album, though I wouldn’t say this album is as super great as his further later stuff.

 

Number 23;…

  • Reality (2003)

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Tracklist: New Killer Star / Pablo Picasso / Never Get Old / The Loneliest Guy / Looking For Water / She’ll Drive The Big Car / Days / Fall Dog Bombs The Moon / Try Some, Buy Some / Reality / Bring Me The Disco King / Fly / Queen Of All The Tarts (Overture) / Rebel Rebel [re-recorded version]

Style: Art Rock

Overall Rating: 67.73%

Remember when Disney announced they was doing no more 2D animated films following the release of Home On The Range, but soon they did Princess & The Frog? Well, some of us thought that David was officially calling releasing new material a day after releasing Reality, but we had to be patient for another 10 years. How much can I remember from this album? Well, not much. None of the tracks are exactly Everybody Says Hi or I’m Afraid Of Americans, but with that said, the artwork of the cover is stylish and the bonus track, a re-recording of Rebel Rebel is decent.

 

Number 22;…

  • “Heroes” (1977)

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Tracklist: Beauty & The Beast / Joe The Lion / Heroes / Sons Of The Silent Age / Blackout / V-2 Schneider / Sense Of Doubt / Moss Garden / Neukoln / Secret Life Of Arabia

Style: Electronic/Experimental/Ambient/Art Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 68.5%

Firstly, does the album or the title song really need speech marks? But oh well. “Heroes”, the second album from the Berlin trilogy and one of David’s collaborations with keyboard guru Brian Eno. David tries out more of a Kraftwerk-style – very electronic and a lot of relaxing ambience. David doesn’t do a lot of singing. The only true classics are the first three tracks, plus V-2 Schneider, in fact I wonder what would’ve happened if Beauty & The Beast was used as the theme tune to the Disney cartoon of the same name. The rest of the tracks are better off when you listen to them all together. I personally prefer the single version of Heroes, but I’d take any version over that David Guetta song; ew!

 

Number 21;…

  • Next Day (2013)

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Tracklist: The Next Day / Dirty Boys / The Stars (Are Out Tonight) / Love Is Lost / Where Are We Now? / Valentine’s Day / If You Can See Me / I’d Rather Be High / Boss Of Me / Dancing Out In Space / How Does The Grass Grow? / (You Will) Set The World On Fire / You Feel So Lonely You Could Die / Heat

Style: Art/Glam Rock

Overall Rating: 71.43%

The album cover says it all. David Bowie had returned after a longish break in the music industry and without a word, hence why his face is hidden behind the title. It’s like he didn’t want every Tom, Dick & Harry knowing that he was back in business and had a feeling The Next Day would sell a lot anyway. And gee, was he right. Solid glam rock. Also an improvement to his previous album Reality. The music videos are also worth a viewing. Of course, this album was released during the time when chart music was clearly going downhill. The Next Day does make up for it.

 

Number 20;…

  • Tin Machine (1989)

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Tracklist: Heaven’s In Here / Tin Machine / Prisoner Of Love / Crack City / I Can’t Read / Under The God / Amazing / Working Class Hero / Bus Stop / Pretty Thing / Video Crimes / Baby Can Dance

Style: Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 75.83%

And this was the first of only two albums to be released by Tin Machine. Always a pleasure to listen to, the first two tracks especially, with it’s harder-rock style. The majority of the material is quite political, I Can’t Read being about joblessness and homelessness and Under The God which is an attack on the “right wing d**ks”. There’s also the cover of John Lennon’s Working Class Hero. The songs may not be pure classics, but the album’s worth a listen.

 

Number 19;…

  • Let’s Dance (1983)

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Tracklist: Modern Love / China Girl / Let’s Dance / Without You / Ricochet / Criminal World / Cat People (Putting Out Fire) / Shake It

Style: Disco / Pop Rock / Soul

Overall Rating: 76.86%

And now we enter the eighties, the period where Britain was ruled by Thatcher and America was ruled by Reagan. And David gets into the groove with Let’s Dance, a feel good disco album. My main nitpick with the album is the extended versions of Modern Love, China Girl, Let’s Dance and Cat People. I personally prefer the single versions, but they’re still a joy. Did you know that Let’s Dance displays a metaphorical message on anti-racism?

 

Number 18;…

  • Station To Station (1976)

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Tracklist: Station To Station / Golden Years / Word On A Wing / TVC 15 / Stay / Wild Is The Wind

Style: Art Rock / Funk / Blue Eyed Soul / Pop

Overall Rating: 77.5%

Station To Station begins with a superb opening, the title track that is. If you thought Blackstar was the longest track David ever recorded, the title track to this one is several seconds longer and is indeed so rhythmic, the harmonica sound is distinguishable! Though it does introduce The Thin White Duke, David’s most conservative character, if you compare him to Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust, and it was a pretty dangerous move to the public. Golden Years creates a funky groove to the album, TVC 15 is one of my favourite songs of hi, the closing track, Wild Is The Wind, is one of my least favourites, not terrible, just a bit drab and boring.

 

Number 17;…

  • Tonight (1984)

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Tracklist: Loving The Alien / Don’t Look Down / God Only Knows / Tonight / Neighborhood Threat / Blue Jean / Tumble And Twirl / I Keep Forgettin’ / Dancing With The Big Boys

Style: Funk / Soul / R&B / Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 78%

Tonight is the sort-of return to David’s old school roots; his alien creations, hence Loving The Alien for instance. Blue Jean is likely to remind listeners of The Jean Genie with a little more grooviness. Speaking of which, one main difference is that the album is slightly more funky and largely influenced by the classic rock & rollers such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Tonight may not follow much of a particular theme, but I seriously can’t understand all the hate-mail it gets. David got soul!

 

Number 16;…

  • Lodger (1979)

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Tracklist: Fantastic Voyage / African Night Flight / Move On / Yassassin / Red Sails / D.J. / Look Back In Anger / Boys Keep Swinging / Repetition / Red Money

Style: Art Rock / Avant-Guarde / Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 78%

David’s final album of the Berlin Trilogy, that is Lodger. The Thin White Duke was definitely reaching the end of his era, which was a relief, because it was in fact David’s dodgiest character to date, hence the famous Nazi-salute he made. Boys Keep Swinging may suggest conservatism, hence the lyrics; “nothing stands in your way/you’re always first on the line, when you’re a boy” But what about when you’re a girl? Maybe the video will help. That said, the video’s one of the reasons why I do happen to love that song, and how groovy the music is. D.J. is fairly more democratic and focuses on the protagonist who’s “home, lost my job”, but does Djing in his spare time. Then there’s the opening track Fantastic Voyage which sympathises with those who suffer from depression (“learning to live with somebody’s depression”).

 

Number 15;…

  • Outside (1995)

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Tracklist: Leon Takes Us Outside / Outside / The Hearts Filthy Lesson / A Small Plot Of Land / Segue – Baby Grace (A Horrid Cassette) / Hallo Spaceboy / The Motel / I Have Not Been To Oxford Town / No Control / Segue – Algeria Touchshriek / The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty) / Segue – Ramona A. Stone / I Am With Name / Wishful Beginnings / We Prick You / Segue – Nathan Adler / I’m Deranged / Thru’ These Architects Eyes / Segue – Nathan Adler / Strangers When We Meet

Style: Industrial Rock

Overall Rating: 78.03%

Man, you could make a movie/musical out of this one, considering how many tracks there are and that some of them are monologues. Outside reminds me a bit of that Terry Gilliam film, Twelve Monkeys. If you think about it, the album demonstrates a dystopian view of the early part of the then-yet-to-come 21st Century. That I can also judge by observing the chalk-style art on the album cover. The music is Brian Eno and the Pet Shop Boys both put together, though Brian Eno was one of the producers and David did duet with the Boys for Hallo Spaceboy, which is a pure bouncy one!

 

Number 14;…

  • Man Who Sold The World (1970)

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Tracklist: The Width Of A Circle / All The Madmen / Black Country Rock / After All / Running Gun Blues / Saviour Machine / She Shook Me Cold / The Man Who Sold The World / The Supermen

Style: Hard Rock / Heavy Metal / Glam Rock / Blues Rock / Folk Rock

Overall Rating: 80%

The Man Who Sold The World signified how much David’s creativity was improving following his self-titled album and Space Oddity. Music-wise, the album is like a mix between Bob Dylan and Black Sabbath, in short, folk and heavyish metal. The title track is a nice folk song with a distinctive heavy guitar riff. All The Madmen draws on the schizophrenia his half brother had, while Running Gun Blues draws on the influences the Vietnam war had with a great gun (well, drum) riff. Did I mention that it also signals Mick Ronson’s first contribution to the legend?

 

Number 13;…

  • Young Americans (1975)

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Tracklist: Young Americans / Win / Fascination / Right / Somebody Up There Likes Me / Across The Universe / Can You Hear Me / Fame

Style: Blue Eyed Soul, Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 81.25%

Dave switches glam-rock for a bit of soul. We always knew his voice was as strong as say, James Brown’s, plus I reckon Diamond Dogs and his cover for Knock On Wood which he did for David Live definitely defined him as a soul musician. High points; I’m always in favour for some soul. The opening track makes me really want to visit the USA. Fame is what you call David’s Bohemian Rhapsody. I so want to cover that song, but it’s impossible to play on guitar.  dunno how David managed it. A little less of a major theme, compared to Diamond Dogs and/or Aladdin Sane, but Young Americans still has the groove.

 

Number 12;…

  • Hunky Dory (1971)

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Tracklist: Changes / Oh You Pretty Things / Eight Line Poem / Life On Mars? / Kooks / Quicksand / Fill Your Heart / Andy Warhol / Song For Bob Dylan / Queen Bitch / Bewley Brothers

Style: Folk Rock / Glam Rock / Art Rock

Overall Rating: 81.82%

Many people consider Hunky Dory as David Bowie’s best album. Some readers are going to wonder why I ranked this album so off the top 10. I admit I like it better than The Man Who Sold The World and I give it credit for David’s first contribution to the glam rock era. But I don’t think Hunky Dory is as strong as, say, Aladdin Sane or Ziggy Stardust. Most of it’s a bit folksy and quiet, more like Tyrannosaurus Rex’s (later known as T.Rex) earlier material. However, the piano riffs from Rick Wakeman are so boogieing-great, especially on Changes, and there’s the nice soft melody on Life On Mars too. David also contributes to piano, on Oh You Pretty Things and Eight Line Poem. My favourite tracks from this album are Changes and the good ol’ rocking Queen Bitch! Speaking of Life On Mars, surrealism at its best also! “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow”, what next, Bugs Bunny has grown up an orang-utan? lol.

 

Number 11;…

  • Pin-Ups (1973)

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Tracklist: Rosalyn / Here Comes The Night / I Wish You Would / See Emily Play / Everything’s All Right / I Can’t Explain / Friday On My Mind / Sorrow / Don’t Bring Me Down / Shapes Of Things / Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere / Where Have All The Good Times Gone?

Style: Glam Rock / Protopunk

Overall Rating: 82.5%

Okay, there ain’t much of a particular theme to Pin-Ups. It’s basically just a covers album, entirely with covers. David Bowie is best with his originals. But in the end, it doesn’t mean the album’s dreadful. There are some music artists who have made some awesome covers; The Searchers, Showaddywaddy, Marilyn Manson,… some to name. But then you had The Sex Pistols’ Great Rock & Roll Swindle which is worth skipping. It so can’t compare to Pin-Ups. David’s covers are great! So what if he’s performed songs by other artists. He’s added a different sound to them. His version of Here Comes The Night by Them is really rocking, as is Where Have All The Good Times Gone? and See Emily Play. Hell, his version of The Merseybeats’ Sorrow is really creative; the strings really contribute to the sadness of the thing, hence Sorrow.

 

Number 10;…

  • Scary Monsters (& Super Creeps) (1980)

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Tracklist: It’s No Game (No. 1) / Up The Hill Backwards / Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) / Ashes To Ashes / Fashion / Teenage Wildlife / Scream Like A Baby / Kingdom Come / Because You’re Young / It’s No Game (No. 2)

Style: Art Rock / Post Punk / Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 82.5%

Starter from ten, David’s stylish contribution to the post-punk/new wave era and the beginning of the eighties, Scary Monsters (& Super Creeps). Scary Monsters demonstrated how much David was moving on up in the various musical eras that went by. He did indeed kiss his butt goodbye to glam rock after his release of Diamond Dogs and he finished with kraut-rock, hence Lodger. For those who don’t know, post-punk is a type of music genre that emerged in the late 1970s and was an experimental version of punk rock. The title track uses a similar style to the Pop Group and Joy Division, Fashion, by its funky bass riffs, sounds a bit like Devo, while the pop-oriented Up The Hill Backwards is much like the Talking Heads.

One thing’s for sure, Dave was still at his storytelling mode; Ashes To Ashes resurrects Major Tom (originally from Space Oddity), while Scream Like A Baby is about a guy who’s being held in a political prison.

 

Number 9;…

  • Low (1977)

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Tracklist: Speed Of Life / Breaking Glass / What In The World / Sound And Vision / Always Crashing In The Same Car / Be My Wife / A New Career In A New Town / Warszawa / Art Decade / Weeping Wall / Subterraneans

Style: Art Rock / Ambient / Avant-Pop / Experimental Rock / Electronic

Overall Rating: 82.96%

First of all, I love the cover to this album. It has a beautiful analogous colour scheme and the orange background contrasts really well with David’s hair. Did you know that it was also used on the film poster to The Man Who Fell To Earth? And my God what an awesome film it is!

Anyway, back on the subject of Low. This one was not only the introduction to the Berlin trilogy, but it’s the best one. It’s a lot different to most albums. It’s purely atmospheric! David provides less vocals, but so what? Did you expect him to just sing? David is fluent on so many instruments; saxophone, guitar, harmonica, keyboards, synthesizer, er… xylophone, some to name, and Low demonstrates so. If he wants to give his vocals a break, let him. Take the Eric Clapton style Sound & Vision for example; The first half is vocal free with an awesome guitar melody, then he digs into the singing. Even the jazzyish Breaking Glass has only one verse, but we’re still entertained by the contribution from the guitars.

I should also mention that Low is also David’s first collaboration with former Roxy Music synthesizer player and general music guru Brian Eno. He too makes a difference to the album. If you don’t believe me, have a listen to the beautiful ambience, i.e. on Warszawa.

 

Number 8;…

  • Never Let Me Down (1987)

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Tracklist: Day-In Day-Out / Time Will Crawl / Beat Of Your Drum / Never Let Me Down / Zeroes / Glass Spider / Shining Star (Makin’ My Love) / New York’s In Love / ’87 And Cry / Too Dizzy / Bang Bang

Style: Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 85%

So David wasn’t receiving much critical acclaim through the late 80s. (sighs) I dunno. Many people admire 80s music and yet they stand clear of Never Let Me Down, David’s most underrated masterpiece. What could be so wrong with a former glam rockster like him contributing to a bit of 80s pop. Alvin Stardust got a chance. Oh and I should also state that Never Let Me Down is also one of David’s most political albums.

Day In Day Out is a fantastic opening which attacks homelessness. I would also recommend checking out the music video which is about a young single mother who struggles financially to look after her kid and as a result turns to prostitution. Time Will Crawl, apparently one of David’s favourite songs, is a smooth classic which owes a lot to Neil Young and concerns the events of the Chernobyl disaster. 87 & Cry criticises then UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher. And we have a bit of old school art rock through Glass Spider, about spiders and corpses.

 

Number 7;…

  • Heathen (2002)

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Tracklist: Sunday / Cactus / Slip Away / Slow Burn / Afraid / I’ve Been Waiting For You / I Would Be Your Slave / I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship / 5:15 The Angels Have Gone / Everyone Says ‘Hi’ / A Better Future / Heathen (The Rays)

Style: Art Rock / Progressive Rock

Overall Rating: 88.33%

If Hours wasn’t so brilliant, how about Heathen, Dave’s return to a bit of space rock? Well, it does sound rather space-ish, and the artistic album cover says it all, helped by David’s glowing eyes. David turns to the more modern style of Pink Floyd for this one. Sunday is a splendid smooth opening with space control style guitars. Slip Away is another cool contribution, helped by the lyrics; “twinkle twinkle uncle Floyd”. Even I Took A Trip On The Gemini Spacecraft is an atmospheric yarn! Everybody Says Hi is a pop classic! I can’t believe its UK chart position was kinda low (20).

Modern prog rock at its best! And I also thank the guest musicians; Pete Townsend and Dave Grohl , for making a difference to this albu.

 

Number 6;…

  • Black Tie White Noise (1993)

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Tracklist: The Wedding / You’ve Been Around / I Feel Fine / Black Tie White Noise / Jump They Say / Nite Flights / Pallas Athena / Miracle Goodnight / Don’t Let Me Down And Down / Looking For Lester / I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday / The Wedding Song

Style: House / Soul / Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 91.67%

If you thought the 90s was all about Britpop and ‘Girl Power’, clearly you’re living in a small world. I grew up in the 90s and I distinctly remember it was so much more than them; the Disney Renaissance, the Nicktoons, the game shows (i.e. Fun House and Gladiators), them cool BBC 2 idents, Sega(!), the Beautiful South, the Corrs, M-People, and there was David’s classic house and soul album Black Tie White Noise.

Black Tie White Noise is a great opportunity to get you in the 90s groove. It also relates to Dave and Iman’s then new marriage. Love maybe a cliche to the music industry, but the funky rhythm helps to keep us invested. We begin with The Wedding which starts with a lovely melody of bells, which also ends the last track; The Wedding Song. Miracle Goodnight highlights the best part of a wedding day, the evening, which the newly wed husband and wife get to spend a peaceful moment alone. Of course, not all the songs are in relation to the wedding. Jump They Say, despite its bounciness, is a song which relates to mental conditions and how it can sometimes lead to suicide. It sees the narrator attempting to talk a guy out of jumping off a tall building (“I say he should watch his ass”).  Did you know that David lost his schizophrenic half-brother to suicide? The impression I get from Black Tie White Noise (title track) is the joys of black and white people interacting with each other. This I personally prefer to Ebony & Ivory.

I recommend you get a hold of the 2003 remaster. It contains some badass remixes of the songs, which is great, because not all remixes are that great, but them ones definitely are. It also contains the theme tune to that Ralph Bakshi movie, Real Cool World.

I may not pay much attention to the charts, but Black Tie White Noise deserved that UK#1 spot!

 

Number 5;…

  • Aladdin Sane (1973)

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Tracklist: Watch That Man / Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) / Drive-In Saturday / Panic In Detroit / Cracked Actor / Time / The Prettiest Star / Let’s Spend The Night Together / The Jean Genie / Lady Grinning Soul

Style: Glam Rock / Hard Rock

Overall Rating: 95.5%

Aladdin Sane, David’s ultimate rock album, ‘ard rock I tells ya. Well most of the material relates to hard rock. Who says you can’t do a bit of air guitar to The Jean Genie, a simply written, but entertaining rock song? Speaking of which, Jean Genie and Aladdin Sane; a subtle reference to the story of Aladdin. Though in actual fact, the album brings awareness of schizophrenia (and I did mention David’s brother on numerous occasions), hence ‘a lad insane’. Panic In Detroit is another great tune, yet still relates a bit to the condition, hence ‘panic’.

But let me make clear that this album does not poke fun at people with schizophrenia. If you listen closely to Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) (“we’ll love Aladdin Sane”), the lyrics actually accept them into society. That track is the best part. I swear that Mike Garson’s piano playing was so improvised!

 

Number 4;…

  • Earthling (1997)

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Tracklist: Little Wonder / Looking For Satellites / Battle For Britain (The Letter) / Seven Years In Tibet / Dead Man Walking / Telling Lies / The Last Thing You Should Do / I’m Afraid Of Americans / Law (Earthlings On Fire)

Style: Industrial Rock / Drum & Bass / Pop Rock

Overall Rating: 96.39%

Another 90’s gem. If Black Tie White Noise’s music was written in a similar style of Shamen and M People, Earthling relates more to the Prodigy and Nine Inch Nails. See what I told you about the 90’s?

Earthling demonstrates how confident David was and how fantastically he did in trying out new music styles. Little Wonders hardly sounds much like Changes or Rebel Rebel, but it doesn’t have to. It’s still an unforgettable classic as is the funky fish-out-of-water song I’m Afraid Of Americans. The whole album contributes to the fish-out-of-water theme as suggested by the title Earthling. I’m Afraid Of Americans, as I discussed in one of my previous blog posts, is also a political observation on the country, where politics of course vary.

 

Number 3;…

  • Diamond Dogs (1974)

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Tracklist: Future Legends / Diamond Dogs / Sweet Thing / Candidate / Sweet Thing (reprise) / Rebel Rebel / Rock & Roll With Me/ We Are The Dead / 1984 / Big Brother / Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family

Style: Glam Rock / Hard Rock

Overall Rating: 97.73%

Diamond Dogs; David’s last contribution to glam rock and his darker album. Technically, 1975 was the official end to the glam rock era, but let’s just say that David observed the future and was ready to move on. Here’s what I was getting at when I was talking about darkness.

Diamond Dogs begins with Future Legends, basically David’s spooky introduction to the album, helped by his wolf-like howling, then ending with ‘this ain’t rock and roll, this is genocide!’. That’s when we dig into Diamond Dogs. Sweet Thing, joined with Candidate and Sweet Thing (reprise), is one such epic-ally written suite, lyric and music-wise! We Are The Dead, need I say what it’s about, but it does contain some swearing. Big Brother and 1984, the latter complete with a distinguishable string ensemble both pay tribute to one of the greatest novelists in history George Orwell.

The title track is a more light-hearted tune, certain lyrics aside (“Come out in the garden baby/You’ll catch your death in the fog”), which didn’t come with an official music video. But just imagine if there was one and it starred Goofy, Scooby Doo and Deputy Dawg.

Rebel Rebel, one of my favourite songs by David Bowie, is always a lot of fun and it showed how awesomely David managed on the guitar without needing Mick Ronson’s support. He’s a regular Jimi Hendrix.

 

Number 2;…

  • Blackstar (2016)

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Tracklist: Blackstar / ‘Tis A Pity She Was A W***e / Lazarus / Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) / Girl Loves Me / Dollar Days / I Can’t Give Everything Away

Style: Art Rock / Experimental Jazz

Overall Rating: 97.86%

Well I can’t talk about Blackstar without mentioning that it’s David’s last album,… permanently.

It’s been only several months since the album came out, so I understand if some of you are surprised that I’ve ranked Blackstar at number 2 on this list.

First of all, I have to give a lot of credit to the album for its front cover being the first and only one not to have the singer pictured on it whatsoever. It’s basically a white background with a black star shape. Very symmetrical, very subtle and it looks very basic. However if you reflect the picture in the bright sunlight, you’ll notice a luminous pattern reflected on the star.

Secondly, if you thought Diamond Dogs was David’s darkest album, then you ain’t heard much of Blackstar yet! Blackstar reminds me of Queen’s Innuendo album. If you think about it, Freddie Mercury was seriously ill during production and I think Innuendo was fully aware of that and made it clear that it was going to be Freddie’s last album with Queen. Blackstar highlighted David’s illness due to cancer. If you observe the music videos to Lazarus and Blackstar, he looks in a right state (don’t take that the wrong way).

The opening lyrics to Lazarus (“look up here, I’m in heaven”) is in fact the truth. Blackstar is a lengthy, haunting and epic opening. Girl Loves Me, which contains a strong use of profanity, loses touch of the past. The album closes with I Can’t Give Everything Away, a purely heavenly finale. Its music video is fairly simple, but also extremely moving.

Not only is Blackstar one of my favourite albums by David Bowie, but I rank this as a favourite from the 2010s-onwards by any artist in general; the period in which I personally think the majority of chart music is going downhill. Luckily there’s always some good stuff that comes out, i.e. this powerful masterpiece, which rightfully hit number one in so many countries!

 

And the number 1 album by David Bowie is…

 

  • Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars (1972)

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Tracklist: 5 Years / Soul Love / Moonage Daydream / Starman / It Ain’t Easy / Lady Stardust / Star / Hang On To Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Rock & Roll Suicide

Style: Glam Rock / Art Rock

Overall Rating: 98.18%

And we have ignition! Many David Bowie fans consider The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars to be his best one. Of course, despite it being David’s fifth album to be released, Rise & Fall was his first one to chart in the UK.

But there’s so much more. The Rise & Fall tells a very definite story; it’s about a Martian bisexual pop-rock musician called Ziggy Stardust (well duh!) who forms a band called The Spiders From Mars, and goes through a period of drug problems and fan troubles.

Five Years acts as a warning to the earthlings that the world is about to end, because if its apparent lack of resources. This is the voice of the mysterons! Only kidding. With that said, it’s a great message for people to quit wasting things.

Lady Stardust, I always presumed was about Ziggy’s wife, though it’s possible that Lady is secretly a transvestite.

The beautifully composed Starman, which has aged so damn well, represents Ziggy both as a true musician and as a literal star-man from outer space (‘there’s a star man waiting in the sky’), who’s attempting not to make much of a scene (‘he’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds’). Of course, being that the space theme is involved, it does go back to the time when the moon landings were so high profile.

Star follows the similar meaning to Starman, though it’s more upbeat.

Hang On To Yourself is a definite glam-rock/protopunk anthem! Fast-paced, grungy, rhythmic, always a lot of fun. This would make a great song to promote drug awareness.

Ziggy Stardust is a basic summary on the character, his occupation (‘Ziggy played guitar…’), his fame and his apparent death (‘when the kids had killed the man, I had to break up the band’). The guitar and bass parts are so awesomely written; who else could’ve possibly pulled it off! I also swear there are some references to Jimi Hendrix (‘he played it left hand), because of course, that guy died at a young age and his band the Jimi Hendrix Experience would’ve ended so soon after that as a result (‘I had to break up the band’).

Suffragette City; one of the main reasons why I adore this album so much. It’s my favourite David Bowie song! I never get tired of this one. It’s a rock anthem! This could be a great song for feminist rights. I’m one myself.

Rock & Roll Suicide signals Ziggy’s final moments of his life. And before David performed that one live, he did make clear that this was Ziggy’s last ever gig; drug problems and very rough fans that contributed to the character’s eventual passing.

At times, the album is gentle, but then also upbeat. Subtle political messages, too much to say about The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. It’s the greatest album of David Bowie’s I’ve ever heard in my life. I totally agree with those who think so.

 

Righty ho, I’d best go fix a spaceship or something. I hope you had a pleasant read of this post. Feel free to share your opinions.

Top-Ten Malcolm In The Middle episodes

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Once upon a time, there lived a little boy named Frankie Muniz. Frankie teamed up with another three lads; Justin Berfield, Erik Per Sullivan and Christopher Kennedy Masterson, and a high-profile actor, Bryan Cranston, and actress, Jane Kazmerek (well, sort of high profile, they did have numerous TV/Film credits before then), and thus was born one of the greatest American sitcoms to have ever existed, Malcolm In The Middle.

It’s ten years since Malcolm In The Middle ceased production and would you believe after all them years how grown up the youth actors are with Frankie turning 30 last year, Justin reaching his age a couple of months later. Hell, Erik has recently hit 25, so happy birthday to him for last week.

Also, there maybe a chance for a cast reunion later on (see this link for details: http://www.indiewire.com/2016/06/bryan-cranston-malcolm-in-the-middle-reunion-1201692100/). Oh and Bryan Cranston is to appear as Zordon in a new upcoming Power Rangers movie, so good luck to him.

In celebration to all them events, I shall observe what I personally regard as the top ten episodes of Malcolm In The Middle.

 

Number 10;…

Home Alone 4 (1.3)

I suppose the producers had to name this episode that, considering how many Home Alone movies there were at the time. In this one, Francis comes home from military school to sort-of babysit his younger brothers, while Hal and Lois are attending a wedding. Looking after Malcolm, Reese and Dewey proves questionable for Francis, being that he is their older brother and not their parent. Plus, stereo-typically, the brothers are occasional slobs and as a result, the house is in a bit of a mess. However, when Francis’ old friends hear that he’s returned to the suburb, they decide to pay a visit and end up throwing a wild party.

As a result of the party, the house is over-trashed. Knowing that the parents, especially Lois, will kill the boys, especially Francis, because he’s been left in charge, the quartet set to cleaning up the house. This leads to one of the most amusing parts of this episode; they find that they’ve over-cleaned the house and thy know that the parents are more used to the boys not being that tidy. So they make a few alterations; you have Francis sprinkling scrabble pieces on one of the side tables, Dewey putting footprints on the wall, etc. But then Malcolm has an accident when he dirties the book shelf, causing it to break and injure his head.

Again, the boys attempt to keep out of trouble with their parents and need $400 to heal Malcolm’s injury. The price puts them in a much more awkward situation, because who could possibly help them besides their parents and if they find out, Francis may be harshly banished back to military school. Plus they’re away, so they can’t get the money in time. They even ask Malcolm’s teacher who’s passing by in the hospital. She initially refuses, so Francis comes with a backup plan, an emotional talk with Dewey, which then talks the teacher into helping them after all. And I have to say, I often get teary-eyed every time I see Francis telling Dewey that he may be back in the military academy forever, Dewey in tears and Francis feeling emotional himself.

The entire series is a coming-of-age tale, but Home Alone 4 is more than that. It’s an episode about taking mature responsibility.

 

Number 9;…

Reese Drives (3.13)

Those who took driving tests in the past, think back to how you felt before you took your test and during your test. Reese Drives sees Reese taking his very first driving test. Before then, he tries to stay calm and ensure he focuses. This, I can so relate to. I remember before I took my test, I was constantly trying to eliminate everything from my mind that was not related to driving. Of course, it was all worth it, since I passed my test and now hold a full licence.

Anyway, enough about me, back to the episode. Speaking of pre-test experiences, Reese attempts to remain calm (because of course, stress could lead to road rage, which could lead to disaster) and Dewey takes advantage of his stress by stabbing Reese with a fork and Reese very nearly hits his brother, but calms and relents. In another moment, he has himself tied up in bed ready for the big day and then Dewey hits him with a sack of heavy items.

Now onto the ultimate moment; the driving. At first, he has to sit in the car with an abysmal driving student, named Jackie, who clumsily knocks down numerous traffic cones and other obstacles. Jackie’s clumsiness wastes Reese’s time and he loses his turn due to the fact that the instructor wants to nip to the post office, despite a long queue. We know that Reese is the least intelligent of the Wilkerson family, but we can’t really blame him for protesting and driving the car himself, without the instructor. However, he also goes to war with the law, a very dangerous task. Reese proves to be a great driver, but being that Jackie is with him and he’s driving without the instructor, he ends up being chased by the cops. I know how he feels when he finds out his test has been cancelled at the last moment. I’d be annoyed if that happened to me. And when he hijacks the car, I remember when I first saw the episode, I was cackling, as soon as Reese told Jackie to move over, she refused and he belched into her face causing her to give in. How can that not crack a smile? Of course, it didn’t happen to me, but if that was me, I would’ve called the company to complain, but Reese’s actions are part of the comedy to this episode.

The sub-plot is also enjoyable; Craig’s at his usual roguish ways when he tricks Malcolm into believing that he egged his house only to find that Craig wants a hand with his home cinema. Malcolm eventually enjoys his new job. However, when he sees a news report on the TV with Reese’s car chase, he runs off to help him, because despite their occasional irritation and Reese’s low intelligence, they are after-all family. This of course leads to one of the funniest Craig related scenes in the show; he falls off the roof and the next moment, his cat is watching and… you know the rest.

 

Number 8;…

Christmas (3.7)

I know, I know, but Christmas is one of the greatest festive-themed TV episodes in general to have ever aired and it ain’t hard to see why.

The Wilkersons have just about finished their Xmas shopping and as usual, Malcolm, Reese and Dewey are driving Lois insane with their constant fights. The final straw occurs when the boys play a game that involves throwing baubles at each other. Lois issues an ultimatum; either the boys behave or the vacation is cancelled. This leads to Malcolm, Reese and Dewey, fearing that she could use that sort of blackmail on them for the next few Christmases, to teach their mom a lesson, only to find that things are not as bad as they thought. Meanwhile, Francis is forced by Lois to spend a torturous Christmas with his grandma Ida, despite his objections.

Not many festive editions are great, but this one certainly is. As Lois points out, Christmas is meant to be one of the happiest times of the year. But this is a TV episode and just because it’s about Christmas, doesn’t mean it has to be all Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows. TV shows and films need to include conflict to tell a story. This one tells it brilliantly. Lois wants a nice family Christmas, but her plans are constantly ruined by the boys’ rough games/activities, which she views as basically hell. We can see both sides of the conflict; the mother wanting a nice peaceful holiday and the boys only having a bit of fun and the way they view fun. While they protest against Lois’ authority, (spoiler) they discover that she and Hal did indeed buy them what they wanted for Christmas. It does go to show that although the Wilkersons are a dysfunctional family and have so many conflicts, they do indeed care for each other and that’s what the vacation is all about, caring.

This also goes for Francis and Ida. Lois cares about her mom, because this is Ida’s first Xmas without her husband Victor. It’s a mystery how he died, because I don’t think there’s an episode where we see him die. But Francis has doubts, because he knows how evil she is, which I’ll explore later on. When he does visit her, he shows how much he cares by giving her a card. Ida hates it, because the card plays Jingle Bells every time it’s opened and she hates songs that are about Christmas. Francis of course doesn’t mean to ‘torture’ her. Later, after a rocky start, Francis and Ida do sort of bond and he finds that she did indeed buy the family some gifts. She does have love for her family, but she happened to withhold them, due to some petty offences they committed. So Francis at his usual rebellious mode plays a trick on his gran and stashes multiple musical cards around the house, driving her mad.

Christmas is one such awesome episode I recommend you get a hold of during Christmas.

 

Number 7;…

If Boys Were Girls (4.10)

We all know that Lois is the only female member of the Wilkerson household. And with that, she’s forced to put up with the male antics around the house. If Boys Were Girls takes place an episode after Lois discovers she’s pregnant with Jamie, the fifth child, who was later introduced at the end of the fourth season.

In this episode, Lois takes Hal, Malcolm, Reese and Dewey clothes shopping. The boys (excluding Hal, of course) constantly fight and bicker and Lois, suddenly, enters a dreamworld and imagines her kids as girls. Lois feels more secure in that world, then in the real world and sees the ‘girls’ as more light-hearted and co-operative, just like her, well almost. I mean she would be that way  if she hadn’t have had to put up with the boys.

Before I was born, my mom apparently predicted I was going to be born a girl. Of course the prediction was wrong and one can’t always be right about what gender the baby’s going to be. Lois hopes the baby is the girl as soon as she see Hal, Malcolm, Reese and Dewey rushing off to play basketball. Being that she’s the only female in the house, we can understand her imaginations. One moment, the boys are pigging on their hamburgers. The next moment, she pictures them as girls, feeding on salads and having a nice lunch conversation with Lois. I also love how she pictures Hal as more obese and with a comfort eating disorder and struggling with the terms that he’s the only male in the family.

But then in reality, the majority of females are just as difficult as males. As If Boys Were Girls progresses, we find out that the girl versions of the boys also have problems. Mallory (Malcolm’s female version) turns out to be a spoiled brat, wanting make-up, Renee (Reese) is as dumb as Reese and is revealed by how younger loud-mouthed sister Daisy (Dewey) to be pregnant at teen-age. This is when Francis as Frances steps him and would you believe that it’s the same actor? She turns out to be a college-drop-out and stripper. How I love that image and scene!

 

Number 6;…

Red Dress (1.2)

Another Lois-dominated episode, Red Dress contains just the one simple plot and it involves a red dress owned by her.

Lois and Hal are getting ready to eat at an expensive restaurant in celebration for their wedding anniversary. Lois intends to wear her favourite dress, a red one, but finds out that it’s been destroyed; burned and flushed down the lavatory. This drives her wild and while poor Hal is waiting for her at the restaurant, Lois furiously interrogates the boys in an attempt to find out the truth of who burned her dress.

Red Dress was only the second episode of Malcolm In The Middle that came out and this is a great debut for Lois Wilkerson. Well technically, her control-freak personality. This is one of the episodes that demonstrates Lois at her best; a woman full of rage. In this case, she’s raging over a simple piece of clothing, but it is in fact her favourite dress. So in the end, we can understand why she’s as mad as a hippo with a hernia. Her anger management is one of the reasons why I rank Lois as my favourite character in the series. I understand how hard it is to have a bossy loud-mouthed mother like her, but for some reason and despite the fact that I’m a male, I can kind of relate to that. I’ve been known to lose my temper easily, especially when something went wrong. By the way, on the topic that I said Lois was my favourite character, I just like to make clear that I can’t think of one character from the series I like the least. I can’t decide which of the other characters I like better than one another, but I have to rank Lois as my fav, her raging attitude being one of the reasons.

(spoiler) In the end of course, we discover that Hal is the culprit, though he actually burned the dress by accident, hence why he flushed it down the bog in order to hide the evidence. And I have to say I agree with the Nostalgia Critic, who once ranked him and Lois as one of the eleven best if strange fictional couples. They do truly love each other, but even Hal can get frightened of Lois, so we can’t really blame him for trying to get rid of the dress following the accident.

Lois’ raging persona would prove to be a trademark throughout the series, and I thank Red Dress for it.

 

Number 5;…

The Grandparents (2.15)

The Grandparents marks the first appearance of Grandma Ida and the first and only appearance of Grandpa Victor.

The grandparents (also Lois’ parents) pay a surprise visit to the Wilkersons. Lois and Hal are of course delighted to see them, yet surprised that they didn’t bother to tell them that they was coming. Reese is especially thrilled and bonds with Victor. Malcolm feels positive at first, but then doesn’t feel approved of by them. Dewey on the other hand is horrified and his childhood fears come flooding back. In-between this episode, the family is having trouble with their refrigerator.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if any of your relatives were pure evil? I never experienced that myself, but apparently one of my distant relatives used to bully his cousins at a younger age. Yet, many families have their own burden(s). When I ranked Christmas, I mentioned that Francis pointed out how evil Ida is. Even The Grandparents points out the evilness within Ida and her husband. Of course, Francis ain’t the only one who knows so. Dewey doesn’t exactly sense any luminosity within them. With that said, I should like to mention that this episode is probably his quietest role. When he sees his grandparents for the first time, he looks afraid. Then we get a brief flashback of him as a baby and the grandparents dropping him on the floor on purpose. As soon as it flashes back to the present, you’d expect Dewey to scream, but actually, he just runs away like hell without making a sound. Later Dewey sees Hal and Lois having a conversation with Victor and Ida and Hal tells him that Victor and Ida are staying longer. We then see Dewey remembering another haunting memory where as a toddler, he nearly got carelessly run over by Victor. Then back in the present, he runs off again. It may be cliched, but it’s also funny and subtle. It’s actually one of my favourite bits in the episode.

Reese of course gets on really well with Victor and this leads to another favourite scene of mine. Victor’s present to Reese turns out to be military equipment, including a grenade, which Reese clumsily handles and ends up removing its pin. We then get into both a bit of a panic and some giggles when Reese, Victor and Malcolm of course get into a stew with the grenade, which Malcolm ends up placing in the refrigerator, which blows up, something you’d expect to see on The Young Ones. We can just about imagine how Lois reacts; “You gave my son a live grenade? You brought live ammunition into this house?! WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!!”. And at her own parents too.

A perfect introduction to a recurring character, classic scenes and an explosive finale, you name it, that’s The Grandparents. Shame they had to kill Victor off later on in the series.

 

Number 4;…

Traffic Jam (2.1)

Traffic Jam is the first episode to the second season of Malcolm In The Middle and a continuation to Water Park (the final episode of the previous season). While I state what this episode is about, I shall give a brief overview of the previous episode.

Hal, Lois, Reese and Malcolm are heading home, after being kicked out of a water-slide park when they suddenly end up in a traffic jam, caused by some car wreck. Meanwhile , Dewey, who has had to miss out on the outing due to his ear infection, is trying to get home himself, following his babysitter’s heart attack and him chasing a red balloon (get it, Red Balloon?) and ending up in the middle of nowhere, leading to some strange adventures he has.

Traffic Jam maybe part of a two-part episode, but you can get the jist out of what’s going on in this ep, without needing to watch the first part (though I’d recommend watching that episode as well). Most of this one’s about coming across a traffic jam and how hard it is to cope when one is in the jam for a while. Lois is furious that the workmen are doing very little to clear up the mess which she knows looks blatantly easy to do and poor Hal is attempting to calm her down. You’ve got Reese at war with an ice cream man who refuses to sell the products. I can definitely see why, considering that as Malcolm points out, it’s 95 degrees Celsius and how questionable the ice cream man’s attitude is; Reese at one time points out that the man could’ve sold some ice cream while there’s a traffic jam going on and to make some money. Malcolm on the other hand doesn’t feel fantastic about the jam either, but he feels more positive when he meets a Canadian girl and to pass the time, they begin chatting and bond together. I love how they admire the view, including when they see Reese violently jumping on the van and when they see Lois shouting on the emergency phone. Speaking of which, let me talk about Lois’ angry phone call. She tries to call home to see if Dewey’s okay, but because it’s an emergency phone, she can’t get through. The best bit is when Lois asks to speak to the supervisor and then the man lowers his voice; “Hello this is the supervisor”, but Lois is not dumb enough to fall for it; “No it isn’t. You’re just disguising your voice,” “No I’m not. I’m really the supervisor.” I do in fact empathise with her eventual emotional breakdown. The thing with being stuck in traffic jams for hours in the hot blazing sun can lead to boredom and stress.

I should also mention the sub-plots which I think are amazing! Dewey finds his way home through various ways; with a store robber, a group of hillbillies on a truck, then in a limousine, then in a tour bus and then with a motorcycle gang. Meanwhile Francis enters a contest which involves eating 100 pieces of candy.

Traffic Jam is definitely one to check out.

 

Number 3;…

Hal Coaches (3.16)

Games can sometimes be frustrating. When I talk about games, I mean both video and physical.

Hal Coaches pictures Hal coaching for Dewey’s soccer team, who seem to be failing against the opposing teams. Meanwhile, Malcolm becomes obsessed with a video game after a new computer is delivered to the household.

Sometimes when you play for a sports team, the games require a bit of logic and geometry and strength and stress. Near the start of the episode, we see Dewey on the verge of quitting, because he feels that he and the team such at soccer. Hal is obviously optimistic that he can do better and urges his son to rethink about quitting. Then, because the original coach walked out, he decides to fill in, despite Dewey’s objections. Being that he is his father, he proves to be soft on the team, while the coach for one of his opposing teams is a tough ass. Sometime afterwards we see that Hal and Dewey’s team have lost. So Hal suggests that the team imagine themselves as superheroes i.e. “the X-Men” and that the opposing team is the force of “evil”. Though the kids do end up taking things literally. This episode does go to show that although sports coaches should treat the players like they would want to be treated, they should also try and introduce a logical way of fighting to win the game.

But Hal Coaches couldn’t be complete without the awesome sub-plot, which I personally find the best part of the episode; Malcolm becoming addicted to the newly delivered computer and a video game called the Virts (an obvious reference to The Sims). First of all, I give a lot of credit to the producer for the way they created the game; its commodore-64 style music and the ludicrous graphics, lol. I also admire how Malcolm creates a virtual version of his family (raising his mother’s aggressiveness to 10, lowering Reese’s hygiene level to 0, then upping his positives (appearance, intelligence, social skills) to 10). He at first enjoys the game, but then some games have its own problems. I remember as a kid when I cursed through some complications I experienced playing certain games. The Virts eventually turns against Malcolm. The funniest part is that his virtual self experiences negatives whereas the others are getting on fine, too fine, no matter how hard Malcolm tries. When the final straw occurs, guess what Malcolm does with the computer. It left me cackling and thinking ‘I bet that computer was expensive’.

 

Number 2;…

Book Club (3.3)

Yeah I know, another Lois-related episode. But believe me, Book Club is a really great episode and here’s why.

Book Club, apart from the cold open of course, begins with the Wilkersons having dinner and the males are constantly making obnoxious noises. Lois gets bored of the antics and so decides to join a local book-related society in order to escape from the family. However, on her first meeting, it turns out to be a group of other mothers having the same family troubles and looking for an excuse to socialise and get drunk. Meanwhile, since his wife has gone into the outgoing habit, Hal must watch over the boys.

First, let me start with the opening scene. It’s one of the funniest moments in worldwide comedy history! One would think that some of the British comedians thought of that idea. The males are belching through speech at the dinner table, and formal dinner conversation too. For instance, Malcolm’s belching “Could you pass the peas please?”. Hell, even Hal’s at it as well! Everyone but Lois, who hopes for a more pleasant atmosphere. When the males finally cease with the sound effects, we then get Malcolm talking about how he witnessed a fight in school. Hal, Reese and Dewey are invested, but Lois obviously ain’t and has hoped to hear about something more pleasant.

I’m a lad myself and as a result, and because my old elementary classroom was mostly full of boys (there was a few girls too), I occasionally joined in with their obnoxious antics. I can remember one time when one of the boys farted out-loud and we cackled and our teacher, a woman, went absolutely wild. There were few girls in my class and the majority of them were the more sensible ones. So in a way, I can pretty much relate to what’s going on in this episode.

It does go to show the understanding between males and females. I do feel for Lois. She’s surrounded by boys and listens to “boy talk and boy noises” every night, so I can’t really blame her for joining the women’s ‘book’ club. Yet again, every member of a family needs a chance to socialise and see the outside and I’ll get to that later. But I ought to say that when Lois does attend the club, the other members explain that they formed the club to unite the females into socialising, drinking and, guess what, plotting against some wealthy PTA-mother, whose car they soon go to vandalise and as a result, face the cops. Lois does question the rights and wrongs. I’d be in favour of joining a political society, but then something that resorts to violence and/or destruction would be a dangerous move. And Lois wanted to do was discuss books.

We also feel for Hal too. We too know Lois needs a break, but she’s still a control freak and orders Hal to keep an eye on Malcolm, Reese & Dewey. He’s like “if I’m to do what Lois does, I have to think like Lois”. He pretty much over does his job of ensuring the boys are out of trouble and stresses so much that he makes hilarious outbursts in front of the kids and do I need to mention the bit where he sees smaller versions of himself, who try to give him advice? God I love that scene! It also goes to show that Hal is not Lois. Message; be yourself.

Book Club is an episode that really defines Lois and Hal’s characters.

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some honourable mentions;

Watching the Baby (5.2)

Bowling (2.20)

Reese Comes Home (6.1)

Hal’s Christmas Gift (6.6)

Water-Park (1.16)

 

And the number 1 episode of Malcolm In The Middle is;…

 

Zoo (4.1)

And Thunderbirds Are Go! The first episode from the fourth series has got to be the most hilarious, adventurous and cleverly written episode I’ve seen from Malcolm In The Middle. It’s one such episode that shows that life can be unfair sometimes, as was once quoted through the theme tune.

What’s the story? Malcolm, who has reached the age of 14, is going through a depressed teenage crisis. But that doesn’t excuse him from a family trip to the zoo. He and Dewey end up in a tigers’ den, Reese butts heads with an aggressive goat and Hal and Lois encounter an old friend. Meanwhile Francis gets a new job.

Starting with the opening scene, following the credits, I absolutely adore that bit, but also relate to that. Lois finds Malcolm wrapped up in his quilt and moaning. She orders him to get up and his response is; “I’ll get up when the world stops being a cruel joke, which is never!”. This, I can’t help smiling through, but of course I remember going through that phase when I was a teenager. I remember hating life and wanting to run away. A lot of teenagers do get depressed sometimes, as Lois does point out; “I did, your father did, Francis cried in the shower everyday for 6 months, Reese wouldn’t get out of the dryer”.

But the best thing about the episode is when the family come face to face with the animals they meet in the zoo. Reese for instance pokes fun at one goat, then another carelessly head-butts him and he ends up in a fight with it. Then you have Hal and Lois attending an exhibit held by Lois’ old boyfriend Matt, who offered Lois and the family a ‘coupon’, which contributes to Hal’s jealousy, and he ends up getting bitten by a tarantula. And gee, check out that mark he gets. They then of course end up in a row over their past lives involving Matt.

Then you have Malcolm and Dewey; Dewey gets excited when he notices the tiger exhibit, but falls in the den. This is when Malcolm’s grumpiness lowers and goes to help his brother, ending up in the den himself. But before they can get to the exit, they get surrounded by tigers. Malcolm is clearly scared, hence why he repeats; “don’t move, don’t move, don’t move”, but Dewey is calm and more optimistic and you’d often expect the younger one to be more scared, but it’s the other way round. And we as viewers really fear for their lives and worry that they’re about to get ripped to shreds, and considering how young they are. Even Lois’ panicking reaction as soon as she sees them (“oh my god”) says it all.

The music is awesomely written too. Most of the soundtrack for the series is written in a techno/funk/alternative format, but if you listen to the music whenever Reese comes across the goat, it’s written in hard-edged staccato piano notes. Amusing, but it also contributes well to the fact that Reese is facing real danger. The same is said for Malcolm and Dewey as soon as they come across the tigers, except the music’s more synthesised and written in a diminished tone, which creates the tension.

Zoo is a very well written episode; Lois has ‘coupons’ for the zoo, her excuse to get Malcolm out of bed and join the family at the zoo. The coupons are actually free tickets provided by Lois’ ex-boyfriend, contributing to Hal’s jealousy and his and Lois’ row over relationships. Malcolm’s depression sinking when he goes to help Dewey, but puts himself in danger too, which stops Hal and Lois’ argument. But then as I forgot to mention, Reese’s fight with the goat, that soon proves useful to (spoiler!) Malcolm and Dewey’s eventual rescue; Reese throws the goat in the tiger’s den (that gets a lot of laughs too)! Right after Malcolm states “Superman isn’t going to save us.”

As for the cold open (the scene before the credits), it is one of the best. Malcolm and Reese are playing ball and Lois scolds them each time (“Don’t play ball in/on/through the house”) which is without a doubt hilarious!

So yeah, Zoo is an adventurous, fun-packed flick which all the family can enjoy. It’s no wonder that Malcolm In The Middle is often compared to The Simpsons.

 

That was my personal top ten episodes of Malcolm In The Middle. Thank you for reading. If there are other TV shows whose episodes I should construct top ten lists of, by all means throw ’em in.