I find David Bowie’s 1976 release Station to Station to be among one of his more experimental and arty affairs, and one of my favorites. Coming hot on the heels of possibly his most successful album to date, 1975’s Young Americans. He furthers the “plastic soul” sound he pioneered there on Station with a couple of songs. The tour de force however is the opening track, title song “Station to Station.”
“Station to Station’s” off-kilter piano and Robert Fripp inspired guitar in retrospect seem to be taking Bowie one step towards “Berlin.” That would be the Berlin-era that encompassed his next three albums with producer Brian Eno comprising Low(77), Heroes(77), and Lodger(79). Station to Station seems to be a transition album from the blue-eyed funk to the excessively experimental nature of the aforementioned Berlin Trilogy. “Station to Station” begins with what sounds like a train leaving a station and by the end of the over ten minute duration of the song you will be delighted about where your journey has taken you. Pounding beats are introduced as vocals finally arrive over three minutes in. The song moves from section to section and starts rocking hard at more than five minutes in, maintaining a high intensity all the way to the end. “The return of the thin white duke” indeed.
This album also features some of Bowie’s best dance tunes. “Golden Years” and “Stay” are among Bowie’s funkiest soulful tunes recorded. More rock & roll than disco, even “TVC15” has got the funk. “Stay” in particular, is just a slice of R&B goodness that I could eat over and over again. Kudos to Carlos Alamor for an unforgettable guitar riff rivaling Sly Stone or Hendrix in its memorability factor.
On the heels of rising popularity, Bowie switches gears once again and goes off in a different direction than what is expected. David’s always been a trend-setter and this chameleon quality of his is just a part of his appeal. Station to Station is only 38 minutes long, but packs a lot of creativity and quality in that relatively short time. This may be my favorite Bowie record.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on September 23rd, 2011