Young Americans was an amazing left turn, showing Bowie’s ever expanding interest in different musical style, but Station 2 Station distilled that interest and sound into the perfect set-up for Bowie’s best and most creative period. It retains the soul of Young Americans’ foray into R&B, adds a dash of disco, and a whole lot more funk.
When we talk about Station 2 Station, we’re simultaneously talking about the lead song. It’s the representation of this whole period of time, like telling a story. It’s incredible, definitely an “epic”, and I love the sounds it teases. I’ve read that this was super influenced by krautrock, a sound which I’ve always associated with drums, but I can hear what it means in the long opening of the song with all of the sound effects and the way it plays out. For the previous three albums, Bowie was delving into sounds popular in America, but here suddenly it’s very European. Reading about this makes me wish I had learned more about music theory, and it makes me want to learn more about it, like when I read the term “motorik” and it explains what kind of beat that is. My love for all of the sounds on this song is endless, from the opening sound of Kraftwerk-like train tracks to the electronic beat that precedes the discordant piano and guitar, feedback, and drums. It weaves in and out of sync in a really deranged and spectacular way. All of the little sound effects give definition to the song, and the song grows and grows until the return of the Thin White Duke. Then it segues into a wonderful pop tune and
ITS NOT THE SIDE EFFECTS OF THE COCAINE IM THINKING THAT IT MUST BE LOOOOOOOOVE
It’s too funky for words. I mean, what a jam. In at least structure, this is the song that I think Bowie was intentionally making a callback to with Blackstar the song.
The album has tons of gems that are worth discovering if you give it the time. Golden Years is a light dance song definitely in the vein of Fame, but even better. The background guitar is amazing and such a joy when your ears find it, and there’s even a country feel in the chords to the moment when the chorus hits. Y’all know how great finger snaps are, and y’all know even better how great handclaps are, but Golden Years turns it up to 11 with finger snaps that turn into hand claps. I love how it has this one groove that it gets into and just digs right in and builds on it vocally. Bowie sounds like he’s having a lot of fun, it’s hard to imagine the kind of back scene drama that was going on.
Word on a Wing sounds so jaunty and bright, but it must be a cry for help. Unlike past albums where saxophone was usually the highlight of most songs, its the piano who’s MVP here. This and TVC15 take jaunty to a whole new level. I can absolutely identify with a lot of the lyrics, particularly the lack of a strong sense of self that is evoked, and the fantastic lines in the chorus. Does my prayer fit in with your scheme of things?
TVC15 has the best Bowie backing vocals on the whole album, it’s a tour de force in piano and wordless vocals like OH OH and MMMMMMMM
I used to not be all that big on Stay, because like 1984, the guitar always seemed a little too of its time period like it had never escaped or aged, but nowadays I’m really into it. The percussion is great, I love those bongos or whatever, and the synths combined with all the guitar noise and jamming create a cool atmosphere. Especially the chorus that has that long STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY. I love how this album as a whole jams, but this song especially jams harder than the rest – although there’s not as much guitar feedback as on some of the others.
Then it all ends on Wild is the Wind, which is depending on the day my favorite song on the album. It’s a cover, but it’s done such justice and for all the complaining I’ve done of covers, it’s all made up here, because it’s perfect. It turns down the volume way down and lets the song slowly build, and it progresses perfectly. The rhythm section is on point, because everything is there to cradle Bowie’s vocals which are also in competition for the finest vocal performance of his whole career. That moment when it gains power, you can feel it, and it’s so moving. The lyrics, though not by Bowie, are really powerful, especially the imagery of the leaf on a tree which could fall at any moment.
DONT YOU KNOW
YOURE LIFE ITSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELF
The stories behind this album are also endlessly fascinating. He’s said it was like living in a constant “psychic terror”, and listening to the album is like listening to someone else, and then at the same time Bowie was found with all of this Nazi stuff and he was saying things about Hitler being a rock star, and it’s insane. The Wikipedia article for this album is one of the best reads.