It’s late 1975, you are riding high off the back of Young Americans and your very first number 1 single in America, Fame whilst you spend almost every spare moment snorting cocaine and keeping your urine in the fridge to cast away evil spirits. Does not get much better than that does it? Well, it can and it does. You listen to a shed load of German electronic music, read as much as you can on Aleister Crowley then book yourself into Cherokee Studios in LA and begin recording your most destructive record to date.
STATIONTOSTATION: released January 23 1976
Highest UK chart position: 5
Highest US chart position: 3
There is a bit of a back story to this album entering my collection. In late 1993, I went to a music store called “Woody’s Music”. I decided to go in because it reminded me of the drummer, Woody Woodmansey and once inside, I found a collection of Bowie cassette’s on sale for $20 which was kind of reasonable for brand new tapes at the time. I only had enough for one so decided STATIONTOSTATION was the going to be my pick. Behind the counter serving me was none other than former Savage Garden front man, Darren Hayes who was at this time, still a relatively unknown singer looking to find his way in life.
On the train home I was able to listen to the album in full on my walkman. It opened with the title track that built up momentum before reaching a summit that I don’t think any Bowie song before or since has reached. You really do need to listen to Station to Station on a heavy duty sound system. If anything that opening track alone deserves the high end audio treatment. A promo single was released in France for the title track that was somehow and absurdly edited down to just over three and a half minutes. Not RCA’s brightest idea was it now?
This also where Bowie introduced his most sinister character yet, The Thin White Duke. Bowie had begun to write a book called The Return of The Thin White Duke whilst on set of The Man Who Fell To Earth in 1975 whilst he was between takes. At the time he was also working on material for the soundtrack to the film which never saw the light of day.
Every song from the six track album was released at some point as a stand alone single yet despite this, there were no official videos shot to help promote the album. Golden Years was performed by a drunk Bowie on Soul Train in late 1975 a most memorable version of Stay was sung on the Dinah Shore Show a few weeks later. I always wonder what sort of videos Bowie would have created had he been given the time? The most prized remnant from this period would have to be the actual tour rehearsals that RCA had filmed and turned up on the collectors market in the mid 1990’s.
For me, the thing that makes an album like STATIONTOSTAION resonate all these years later is the fact that it sounds fresh and exciting even after countless listens you just can’t tire of the funk that is delivered in abundance. It is just a smidgen behind my all time favourite Bowie album and it is considered a stepping stone to the Berlin period that was to follow in a matter of months. It is quite possible that no artist will ever be able to record an album that can even get on the coat tails of this work or art and beauty.