Space Oddity review by David Bowie

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1969
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.8 (17 votes)
David Bowie: Space Oddity
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Sound — 8
Space Oddity is David Bowie's second album, released two years after his obscure self-titled chamber-pop debut. Known especially for the single of the same name, Space Oddity's sound differs greatly from that of the zoned-out space rock of it's title track. While the single "Space Oddity" features drugged-out vocal harmonies, organs, wandering guitar solos, and space-age sound effects, the remainder of the tracks are very simple, straightforward folk-rock with a hint of hippie psychadelia. Most songs are structured fairly simply. Accompanied by the gentle psychadelic swooning of the backing band, Bowie's 12-string acoustic takes center stage as he crafts an album's worth of essential 60's songs. The title track itself is a tremendous leap forward, exploring realms of textures and sound effects that would not be touched again for years. The rest of the album is simply very well composed folk-rock. Most of the songs sound fairly similar, but the gentle acoustic guitar-driven sound is a timeless one.

Lyrics — 10
Lyrics have always been David Bowie's strong point; whether he's recounting the otherworldly journey of an astronaut or lamenting about the apocalypse, a quirky sort of wiseness and introspection can always be expected from him. Space Oddity finds him at his very least eccentric, often touching upon fairly lighthearted but serious subject matter. Over the course of the album, his literate songwriting and somewhat deadpan vocal style recall Leonard Cohen during his younger days. Bowie's voice and lyrics suit the music perfectly, placing this album within the general folk umbrella rather than the hard-rock tag that would later apply to his sound.

Overall Impression — 10
Not counting the almost completely unheard-of chamber-pop debut, this is undoubtedly one of Bowie's least groundbreaking albums. The title track itself, of course, is an impressive venture into Barrett-era Pink Floyd space-rock rambling in which Bowie shows a knack for combining quirkiness and dissonance with melody and introspection. The rest of the tracks are gorgeously crafted pop songs with unquestionable folk overtones. "Letter To Hermione" stands out as the saddest song on the album, a reading of a letter to a past lover. "(Don't Sit Down)", on the other hand is a strange and trippy fourty-second track on which Bowie repeats the words "don't sit down" before cursting into forced laughter. Combined with the Cohen-esque "Cygnet Committee" and "Memory Of A Free Festival", these songs represent the very core of the music that Bowie would make for the decade to come: oftentimes of serious intent, but hinting at the experimental and leaning towards the eccentric and even nonsensical. On Space Oddity, he creates a concise, very listenable collection of songs which fit very well together, with the obvious exception of the title track. This is a landmark album in 60's rock, deserving mention alongside albums such as "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Are You Experienced".

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    toyboxmonster
    Hahahahaha!! Oh my God!! I am SO sorry. I really wish I could edit that. Wow. I'm not writing late-night reviews anymore. My apologies lmao.
    JustLikeMe
    toyboxmonster wrote: Hahahahaha!! Oh my God!! I am SO sorry. I really wish I could edit that. Wow. I'm not writing late-night reviews anymore. My apologies lmao.
    Send me your fixed version of this review please, I'll approve it right now.
    fhqwgads
    LMAO Dr. Pepper. BTW I love this album. "This is Major Tom to ground control..."
    Highway60Bob
    dr. pepper. lol. i always thought it was a '72 album until i read this. i have a large repetoire of hippie tunes in my library i now have more motivation to add this album. thanks!
    Somnambulance
    While I am a huge, huge fan of David Bowie, I would really, really disagree with the high ratings of this album. If I was alive when this album was released and bought it at the time, I would think that David Bowie would be a one hit wonder. "Space Oddity" is the only real highlight on the album. However, his music through the 70's is perhaps the best streak of albums any solo performer has ever had. Barre "Diamond Dogs" and "Young Americans," each 70's album (plus 1980's "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps") are 10 worthy albums in my opinion. But, then again, you're free to like what you like. Also, this is a far better "debut album" than his chamber pop one. That one is great comedy though.
    MusicalMinority
    Space Oddity was a fantastic album, in my opinion. It's worth it as a study in musical texture alone, nevermind the brilliance of the songwriting.
    Ranting Thespia
    "we're Dr Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, we'd like to thank you for buying the soda, Dr Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, we're sellouts which is obvious to ya, Dr Pepper's Lonely, Dr Pepper's Lonely, Dr Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, it's wonderful to sell you, such a yummy drink, we'd like for you take us home to your fridge, we'd like for you to take us home to your fridge, we'd like for you to take us home . . ."
    toyboxmonster
    MusicalMinority wrote: Space Oddity was a fantastic album, in my opinion. It's worth it as a study in musical texture alone, nevermind the brilliance of the songwriting.
    =) agreed. My favourite Bowie album.