Always wondered what the fuss was about with David Bowie (who sadly joined Major Tom five years ago)? After all, some of those albums the critics push – Low, Heroes, The Lodger, Scary Monsters – turn out to be filled with nonsense. Come on; those instrumentals on the other side of Low, which no one plays. That’s Bowie taking your for a ride. But it wasn’t always that way. He made remarkable music when he could be bothered. It’s just that the rock media always played the safe card – “Life on Mars”, “Heroes”, “Ashes to Ashes”, “Let’s Dance”, the latter (song, not LP), being some of the most boring and predictable records ever made.
So don’t be bored; here are the best 10 David Bowie songs really worth listening to; the stuff you won’t hear on Radio 2, chosen by former Mojo production editor Ed Glinert, who runs “David Bowie’s London” tours.
- Modern Love (Let’s Dance, 1983)
“I know when to go out/And when to stay in” Perfect!
- Be My Wife (Low, 1977)
An extraordinary Anthony Newley impersonation drives this charging piece of uxorious nonsense.
- This Is Not America (The Falcon and the Snowman, 1985)
Led by a gorgeous synth-drenched mood piece with Pat Metheney.
- Letter to Hermione (David Bowie, 1969)
By 1969 Bowie had dropped the theatrical inanities of “The Laughing Gnome” and immersed himself in Roy Harper/Al Stewart/John Martyn introspection along with superb melodies.
- Win (Young Americans, 1975)
Sensual, sultry, sudorific, soporific and sensational.
- Stay (Station to Station, 1976)
Bowie out-funks the funkiest with one of the most powerful guitar figures ever encountered, thanks to Earl Slick.
- Little Wonder (Earthling, 1997)
Bowie out Prodigys The Prodigy.
- An Occasional Dream (David Bowie, 1969)
Breathy and simply gorgeous with the dreamiest of vocals.
“We’d dream of a Swedish room/Of hessian and wood.”
2. Station to Station (Station to Station, 1976)
It takes a while to get to its frenetic climax, but what a climax as Bowie, during his fascism phase, paradoxically makes a nod at the Kabbalah: “One magical movement from Kether to Malkuth.” What was he on exactly, and did he get there?
- The Width of A Circle (The Man Who Sold the World, 1970)
Bowie fuses Hendrix, Sabbath and Cream in a new departure for hard rock, suffused with cryptic allusions and sexual encounters with the God, the devil or worse. Typical Bowie.