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David Bowie’s musical career involved so many stylistic twists, persona transformations, lineup changes and unexpected collaborations that a sense of coherence can be elusive. There is no “ultimate Bowie album,” no “definitive Bowie phase.” There are moments of brilliance and moments where you mumble “What the fuck?” He was a master at media manipulation, a remarkably empathetic human being, a very talented musician, no stranger to controversy and ultimately something of a riddle.
I never saw Bowie live, but my mother saw him at Winterland on the Ziggy Stardust tour. “The most mesmerizing performer I’ve ever seen,” commented this woman not given to hyperbole. From the video clips I’ve seen, I have no doubt about his ability to put on a helluva show, but some of his recorded works display more showmanship than substance.
I only covered a handful of albums from his extensive catalog, but with the possible exceptions of Lodger and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), I don’t have too many regrets about the albums I missed. Here’s what I’ve got:
- Hunky Dory
- The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
- Alladin Sane
- Station to Station
Photo: Adam Bielawski Photographer Specializing in Entertainment Chicago, IL, USA, via Wikimedia Commons