Station to Station
Released: January 23, 1976
Peak: 3 US, 5 UK, 2 CN, 8 AU
Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.1 UK, 3.5 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: classic rock
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Songs written by David Bowie unless indicated otherwise.
Total Running Time: 37:45
4.303 out of 5.00 (average of 27 ratings)
Quotable: “Enormously influential on post-punk.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
For Station to Station, David Bowie introduced yet another persona – the Thin White Duke. The character has been described as “a mad aristocrat” and “amoral zombie.” WK Bowie dressed in white shirt, black trousers and waistcoat to assume the personality.
Musically, the album was a mix of the “plastic soul” or blue-eyed soul Bowie explored on Young Americans with the new influences from krautrock and electronic music of bands such as Neu! and Kraftwerk. “Bowie seemed to step back, ponder the future of rock, and then turn up the guitars and the art-rock sensibilities and make a completely engaging and evocative album.” AZ
“Station to Station is a transitional album that creates its own distinctive style. Abandoning any pretense of being a soulman, yet keeping rhythmic elements of soul, David Bowie positions himself as a cold, clinical crooner and explores a variety of styles.” AMG “Everything from epic ballads and disco to synthesized avant pop is present on Station to Station, but what ties it together is Bowie’s cocaine-induced paranoia and detached musical persona.” AMG
Lyrically, he drew on his preoccupations with Friedrich Nietzsche, the occultism of Aleister Crowley, Grail mythology, and the Kabbalah. WK Author Nicholas Pegg said the album’s theme was a clash of “occultism and Christianity.” WK The Christian element was most obvious in “the hymn-like Word on a Wing.” WK Bowie said it came from “the darkest days of my life…I’m sure that it was a call for help.” WK
“At its heart, Station to Station is an avant-garde art-rock album, most explicitly on” AMG “the epic sprawl of the title track” AMG, a song which finds Bowie “introducing the Thin White Duke character and building into an incendiary rocker,” AMG and “the playful TVC 15 [which] takes the listener on a bumpy ride into unholy tech-love.” AZ
“The irresistible Golden Years,” AZ complete with “disco stylings,” AMG was the first track recorded for the album and was released as the first single. It exemplified Bowie’s new direction by infusing the sound established with Young Americans with “a harsher, grinding edge.” WK Bowie said he wrote the song initially for Elvis Presley, but he rejected it. Bowie’s wife, Angie, claimed it was written for her.
Still, “the soul of David Bowie is pretty much meshed into every track” AZ such as on the “physically wrenching and funk-drenched Stay.” AZ There’s also the “the cool crooning of Wild Is the Wind and ‘Word on a Wing.’” AMG The former was the “album’s sole cover, and has been praised as one of the finest vocal performances of Bowie’s career.” WK
“It’s not an easy album to warm to, but its epic structure and clinical sound were an impressive, individualistic achievement, as well as a style that would prove enormously influential on post-punk.” AMG In The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Rob Sheffield called it “the most intense music of his life.” WK NPR’s Jem Awad said it “paved the way not only for thousands of artists who were influenced by it, but also for the brilliant wave of experimentation that followed over the next five years.” WK
Notes: The 1990 Rykodisc reissue adds live versions of “Word on a Wing” and “Stay.” A 2010 reissue expanded the collection to a 3-CD special edition and 5-disc CD/DVD set.
Resources and Related Links:
First posted 2/20/2008; last updated 7/31/2021.