Bowie; David: Station To Station LP
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"The return of The Thin White Duke..." So begins David Bowie's tenth studio album, 1976's Station To Station. In part influenced by his role in Nicolas Roeg's film The Man Who Fell To Earth, ever the innovator, Bowie became the character The Thin White Duke; a composite, part his character from the film, alien Thomas Jerome Newton, part Buster Keaton and part European cabaret artist. After the release of 1975's soul and funk-inspired Young Americans, Bowie and the album's guitarist Carlos Alomar, Earl Slick (guitar), the E-Street Band's Roy Bittan (piano), Dennis Davis (drums), George Murray (bass) and Warren Peace (backing vocals) entered Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles to record its follow up.
Touching on his love of German electronic bands, American R&B and even film music plus the talents of his American band, Bowie crafted an album drawing on both European and American sensibilities; a transition between his recent Plastic Soul period and what would become his re-acquaintance with European culture when he moved to Berlin the following year. The opening 10-minute title track leaves the listener in no doubt that another ground-breaking Bowie transformation is taking place. From the sound of a moving train and two-note intro, through the introduction and intention of The Thin White Duke - taking in Crowley, Cocaine and Kabbalah and Romanticism - the song is a piece of paranoid and dislocated electronic-funk.
This is followed by the distinctive UK and US Top 10 single "Golden Years," which hints at the funk and soul of his previous album. "Word On A Wing" is the first of the album's two ballads, with a decidedly Christian theme – a song which in later years Bowie said was something of a cry for help. The back-to-back "TVC15" and "Stay" provide the album with a funkier feel, the former having said to have been influenced by being sprawled in front of a dozen TV monitors and a dream about a girlfriend being eaten by a TV set. A great admirer of Nina Simone's version of the song, the album's second ballad and final track is a cover of Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington's ballad "Wild Is The Wind," generally considered an inspired and classic Bowie vocal performance.
Station To Station was a top 5 success in the U.K. and U.S. It would, as many authorities said, divide the decade for Bowie. He thereafter left the US for Berlin with Iggy Pop and embarked on a journey which saw the creation of his seminal Berlin Trilogy, as well as playing a major role in Iggy's acclaimed The Idiot and Lust For Life albums.