Sound — 10
I bought this album on vinyl recently, and though I was very familiar with each song from it I sat and listened to the whole album, start to finish. I was blown away when I reached the second track, Win. I heard a jazz organ riff that I'd never noticed before on the mp3 version. It gave the song a whole new sound, the chorus for the first time entering with an ethereal, spiritual vibe.
The producer, Tony Visconti claims that the album contains "about 85% 'live' Bowie". This full band sound, including vocals, really leaves a strong impression. After all, this is the way many of Bowie's soul influences would have recorded their music in the 60s. Bowie's modest description of the album, calling it "plastic soul" that had been "written and sung by a white limey" points out the obvious fact that this style of music cannot be authentic American soul music due to Bowie's ethnic background. Despite this fact, I believe Bowie does the genre justice; the music is sympathetic to the style and is combined with his own compositional style, with the added flair of his distinctive London accent and emotive singing voice.
Lyrics — 10
This album shows Bowie's vocals at their absolute finest. The unique timbre and soul-influenced style in which he sings is beautifully showcased throughout. For an example listen to any of the tracks from the album - including the bonus tracks, which contain many great moments as well.
I've found that any band who tries to cover The Beatles always comes out second best. Bowie's cover of "Across The Universe" (featuring Lennon on rhythm guitar), I would not compare with the original. The variation in melody and structural ideas that are found in this version make it fit in extremely well with the rest of the album. Bowie adds a new dramatic style to this song, differing from the hypnotic Lennon version and it sounds great, one could not hope for a better Beatles cover than this. There have been a few reviewers of this album who have not appreciated all of the songs found on "Young Americans". I disapproved when I saw that one review said that after "Right" the album "unfortunately loses a little steam". It may be that I have an attachment to "Somebody Up There Like Me" due to the nostalgia of playing "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas", and after all it was one of the first Bowie songs that I was exposed to. However I would sooner say that each track is tied as the best song on the album than that there are any weak songs to be found.
Overall Impression — 10
Upon first setting eyes on the album cover, you can accurately anticipate what's in store on this album. In comparison to Bowie's earlier albums, "Young Americans" illustrates a far more romantic, emotional feel. If I had to find some criticisms of this album, I would have only one or two things to comment upon. On occasion I feel that in "Across The Universe" Bowie sings "nothing's gonna change my world" for a pretty long time. I also think that perhaps the bonus track "John I'm Only Dancing", despite being a great song, might have been better suited to another album. It has more of a rock sounding, Ziggy Stardust feel than the jazzy soul feel of "Young Americans". However these views are subjective, and are hardly going to stop me from believing this is one of David Bowie's best albums. I tried to justify giving this album a 9, but in my eyes it truly is a masterpiece.