Sound: This album, and the era at which it was released, defined Bowie's golden years of music. Although the previous two albums, 'Man Who Sold The World' and 'Space Oddity', contained their two title track favorites, they didn't have the sound that people would learn to recognize as 'David Bowie'. This album, plus the two follow-ups ('Ziggy Stardust' and 'Aladdin Sane') were truly Bowie's best, starting with 'Hunky Dory'. Opening with the ageless Changes, the album has a feel of being chilled out, but that isn't so when the rock n roll piano/sax riff comes into effect. The rock n roll feel is continuous through some of the other (Queen Bitch, Oh! You Pretty Things, Fill Your Heart), then there's a few that are either bluesy (Eight Line Poem, Song For Bob Dylan maybe?), piano-based (Life On Mars?) or just generally alternative (Kooks, Andy Warhol). Any that remain unmentioned are just acoustic (i.e. The Bewlay Brothers, Quicksand). Either way, there must be something to satisfy most musical tastes. I've always thought Bowie to be a musical genius, but combined with Mick Ronson's guitar playing and arrangements and with piano contributions from Rick Wakeman, you can't go far wrong. The only things that I can pick out, musically, are the beginning of Andy Warhol, which sounds kinda spacey, and the cover of Fill Your Heart, which I generally didn't like, for no specific reason. Different people will have different views on certain musical aspects of this album, but that's what I think. // 9
Lyrics: Bowie has never stood out to me lyrically. He usually gets the point across in his songs, like Changes, but others are slightly debatable. I'll never understand Eight Line Poem, for example, but just because it's not a great song for lyrics (or vocals, for that matter), it doesn't make it a bad song. What Bowie lacks in lyrics, he certainly makes up for in composition, in which Ronson plays a big part again. To put it simply, certain tracks hit you more than others like Changes, Life On Mars? and possibly Oh! You Pretty Things, whilst others are just for easy listening, if that makes sense. You'll understand if you listen to the album. // 7
Overall Impression: The tracks on this CD are pretty well chosen:
01. Changes - a Bowie classic, by any standards. Most will have heard this song at some point in their lives, like it or not. Great track, nonetheless.
02. Oh! You Pretty Things - one of my favorites from this album, though I'm not sure why. Has a nice piano part throughout the song and works very well to work into the next song.
03. Eight Line Poem - piano/guitar mainly in this song. The lyrics are pretty awful, in all fairness. But you have to bear in mind that it's a poem, I suppose.
04. Life On Mars? - for many, is that highlight of the album. Rick Wakeman's piano playing can't be faulted, as Bowie's lyrics can't. Beautiful.
05. Kooks - a novelty, if anything. Kooks is a good track and it's certainly better than some of the others on this album, I have to say. Still not the best I've heard though.
06. Quicksand - acoustic based track that works up to the use of a full band (plus strings). Very nice. I had never heard of it before I bought this album. Sounds very heart felt and well arranged.
07. Fill Your Heart - the cover. I don't like it, if I'm honest. Might be the worst track on the album, I haven't decided yet.
08. Andy Warhol - an odd track at first, using computer sounds and Bowie talking into the microphone about him being Andy Warhol. It does get better after the band gather themselves. Sounds pretty alt-country (Yeah, I just made that up haha! ).
09. Song For Bob Dylan - very nice bluesy/acoustic track. Again, I can't really fault it.
10. Queen Bitch - another one of my favorites from this album. Extremely catchy. It was used in the recent film Run Fat Boy Run, actually. Definitely worth a listen.
11. The Bewley Brothers - I like this one. The only bad thing about it is the lyrics/vocals at the end. I think it spoils the whole song, sadly. The song is very good, nevertheless.
It has to be one of Bowie's best albums, in my opinion. I have this and 'Aladdin Sane' up there as the best. I'm sure many will agree. Just have a listen. There should be something for everyone. If not, you can slap me! // 9