David Bowie could’ve been 70 today. This is why I’ve decided to put together my personal top 11 list of his album tracks. Last year, I wrote my personal top 11 list of his singles, so for a change, these are his album tracks; I’m excluding his singles and including his songs that were featured on his studio albums and never got released as singles. Of course, in a few days time will be the 1st anniversary of when I woke up to the most traumatic news of my life, need I say.
So here’s my Top 11 Album Tracks by David Bowie. Why top 11? Because I’m going one step beyond.
Girl Loves Me
Album: Blackstar (2016)
Taken from Blackstar, David’s final album, Girl Loves Me is one of only two tracks from the album never to be released as singles (the other being Dollar Days), unless they intend to have it released in the future. This one has a slightly different rhythm to most of David’s previous material. It contains some swearing; repeated uses of the f word – I ain’t saying it’s unusual for him to swear (he did say the f word once on We Are The Dead and one of his songs with Tin Machine), but then this is probably the most times it’s mentioned in a song. It also includes reference to A Clockwork Orange and 1984, again what’s new? But actually, what’s different about the song is the thumping bass rhythm and that it’s believed that David was inspired by a couple of young American rappers, one of them being Future.
Scream Like A Baby
Album: Scary Monsters & Super Creeps (1980)
Scream Like A Baby tells the story of a guy named Sam who’s imprisoned in a futuristic political jail. The song is noted for its ultra-modern new wave/synth pop sounds and David was truly getting updated with the modern world of music!
All The Madmen
Album: The Man Who Sold The World (1970)
All The Madmen is partially based on David’s half-brother, Terry, who had schizophrenia and later committed suicide in 1985. The tune starts off folky and then turns to a bit of heavy metal, as soon as Mick Ronson comes in!
Album: Hunky Dory (1971)
It was a difficult choice between this one and Oh You Pretty Things, but Queen Bitch is so upbeat and gives its actual nod to glam-rock, demonstrating that Hunky Dory truly entered David into the era. This one, apparently influenced by Lou Reed and his then-band The Velvet Underground. Without David, Lou probably would’ve never been noticed. Lou would later cover this one, presumably his thanks to David. This one always makes me happy.
Battle For Britain (The Letter)
Album: Earthling (1997)
How’s about a bit of industrial rock and drum & bass, Prodigy-style. What I got out of Battle For Britain was an anti-war message, hence why it’s also called The Letter, presumably a letter to stop a war from coming. Mind you, you’d probably remember the battle of Britain which took place in World War 2. Hell, there was also a film about it. Plus the instruments do sound as aggressive as The Prodigy,
I Took A Trip On The Gemini Spacecraft
Album: Heathen (2002)
Back when the UK charts was so-so; dominated by the likes of Gareth Gates and Britney Spears and Blue and Robbie Williams and Atomic Kitten, you know the rest. David was one of the highlights with his album, Heathen, which included this lovely song, I Took A Trip On The Gemini Spacecraft, which I’m quite surprised was never released on its own. Yes, it’s a cover of a song by a guy named Norman Odam. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to listen to the original. For this one though, still nicely done.
’87 & Cry
Album: Never Let Me Down (1987)
I know, it’s from a rather unpopular album, yet as I described Never Let Me Down in one of my previous posts as a truly underrated one. I really think ’87 & Cry deserves some slack. It contains such a magical sound throughout and an aggressive political message; based on Thatcher’s harsh treaty to the dogs, as opposed to the citizens. While David’s resting in heaven, Maggie’s burning in hell!
Album: Black Tie White Noise (1993)
And here’s a cover of a song by Scott Walker. David did some pretty impressive covers back in his day; Dancing In The Street, Alabama Song, Sorrow, Nite Flights is no exception. This version contains heavy electronic sounds; one of the tunes I would put on to help me relax from stressful days.
Aladdin Sane (1913–1938–197?)
Album: Aladdin Sane (1973)
No I ain’t referring to the Disney version of Aladdin. Actually, I’m talking about an endless, almost piano-dominated piano jazz-ish song, which refers to a guy who’s insane. Get it, A Lad In Sane? I’m quite surprised that Aladdin Sane (1913–1938–197?) was never released as a single, despite appearing on David’s ChangesTwoBowie album. Aladdin Sane is an apparent prediction that World War 3 may occur, hence the years in parentheses referring to the pre-dates of both World Wars. This would be the beginning of David’s interest in taking on experimental music. And was Mike Garson’s piano riff improvised?
Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (reprise)
Album: Diamond Dogs (1974)
Diamond Dogs began with Future Legends, which introduced the album and went straight to the title track. Then along came the Sweet Thing suite. Okay, it’s three tracks, but if you put them together, you get one masterpiece. What can I say about this epic prog rock yarn; one of them songs where David reaches the lowest note as possible. Of course, his voice was beginning to lower as he aged. His voice is so in a similar boat to my voice! It also demonstrates his multi-instrument playing skills (guitar, saxophone, synthesizers). Any more to say on this one? I love the guitar riff near the start and it sure is a spooky one!
Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some honourable mentions;
And the number 1 album track by David Bowie is…
Hang On To Yourself
Album: The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars (1972)
And Thunderbirds are go! What can I say about this one? This one always puts a smile to my face. I love the chord sequence and the high tempo. It’s a fantastic rock & roll and glam rock yarn. Only two minutes and just over a half, what more could you expect from Hang On To Yourself?
Special mention goes to Ziggy Stardust, which is from the same album. But I was a bit unsure whether it would count as an album track, considering the live version was released later on. Yet again, who knows?
So that’s my Top 11 list. I’m sorry I only provided limited information. I had limited time to write it. But by all means, check out the songs.
In a bit.