David Bowie: Ranked
God. David Bowie. I’ve been listening to a lot of David Bowie recently, prompted by the newest reissue of Ziggy Stardust and Wes Anderson’s movie The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, which French fries some of Bowie’s songs for the soundtrack. The Quietus just posted a remarkable and wholly original (and long!) missive on the history of the making of Ziggy complete with historical reference points and influences that go back to the 1800’s. Worth a read, for sure. Is he a chameleon genius or is he a fame grubbing bandwagon jumper? I’ve always considered him a bit of both, up until the massive success of ‘83’s Let’s Dance, which was definitely a cash in.
But what about Bowie’s discography? For me it starts with 1969’s Space Oddity and ends with 1980’s Scary Monsters. In between you have the dreck of Pin-Ups, a couple of sub-par live releases and one plastic soul album (Young Americans) that’s good for maybe a couple of songs and, of course, the Berlin Trilogy, which in my opinion, as a whole, is an overrated mess. Yes, there are some good tracks, but Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life and The Idiot, which stemmed from the same time period and place, are much better.The rest of the albums from that time span are all classics, and each is different and unique to the one prior. Here are my rankings of the best of David Bowie. You don’t need anything else other than what’s here.
#1. Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars: his peak.
#2. The Man Who Sold The World: at his rawest.
#3. Scary Monsters: new wave masterpiece!
#4. Hunky Dory: precursor to massive fame, his tribute to Warhol’s Factory.
#5. Diamond Dogs: starting to slip a bit here, basically about Orwell’s 1984. Very dark.
#6. Heroes: the best of his Berlin trilogy of albums.
#7. Low: 1st side, good; second side 2nd rate sci-fi muzak.
#8. Station To Station: see #7.
#9. Space Oddity: early Bowie, worth it for the great title track alone.
#10. Young Americans: Love the title track, and Golden Years and Fame are classics. On second thought, maybe this should rank a little higher…