Thursday, March 19, 2009

stationary target

"Young Americans" era jones, 1975.

Stepping off American Bandstand - but not the white powder - The Thin White Duke turned introspective and hit the black on Bleaker Street for his follow-up release, "Station to Station", in 1976. Paralyzing psychosis and paranoia informed both the writing and performance in the studio throughout, and the blue-eyed energized soul of its predecessor was derailed in the process; taking a mysterious detour which would ultimately culminate with those synth laden collaborations with Brian Eno and old friend, Tony Visconti in Berlin between 1976 and 1977.

For all the accusations which were hurled in its direction, in hindsight "Station to Station" was potentially David Jones' most 'real' statement since "Hunky Dory", dealing as it does with genuine emotions, however numbed and blunted. The distance employed between artist and audience has little to do in this instance with artifice and industry chicanery.

The line between persona and persona non grata - a white line, admittedly - is more confused or interrupted than deliberately blurred.

I feel as passionately about this record as anything realized on vinyl between "Space Oddity" and "Scary Monsters... Super Creeps". Ever the ardent Österberg
admirer and champion, one gets the sense that with this LP Bowie finally gave himself the break of accepting his limitations as an intuitive performer and finally began to build on his own unique capabilities to adopt and absorb from varied sources without fear of criticism or put-down. The theatre is tempered with restraint and the desire to cultivate from crippling experience. The Jacques Brel, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill influences which would dominate later work make their first appearance here, with little apology, on his bold decision to end the album with a cover of Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington's "Wild is the Wind", originally recorded by Johnny Mathis for the movie of the same name in 1957.
It reeks of cabaret and greasepaint, beyond a doubt, but the face melting on stage under the footlights just as irrefutably belongs to David Jones himself.

Stay tuned, and keep reading between the lines. Keep one eye open for the train.

David Bowie: vocals, guitar, tenor and alto saxophone, Moog, Mellotron;
Carlos Alomar: guitar; Roy Bittan: piano;
Dennis Davis: drums; George Murray: bass;
Warren Peace: backing vocals; Earl Slick: guitar.
Produced by David Bowie and Harry Maslin. Recorded in Los Angeles, September-December 1975.

DAVID BOWIE: STAY from "Station To Station" LP (RCA) 1976 (UK)

DAVID BOWIE: WILD IS THE WIND from "Station To Station" LP (RCA) 1976 (UK)



Löst Jimmy said...

I enjoyed reading this Post ib, it sums up things nicely about Bowie in the mid-seventies even without reading between the lines...............

ib said...

Thanks, Löst Jimmy. About a year or so before IPC's "Action" was launched, I remember Bowie striking a very dodgy pose in a London train station. It's intriguing now to think of it now in the light of Christopher Isherwood's Liza Minelli vehicle, Sam Peckinpah's "Cross of Iron" and - dare I say it - "Hellman of the Hammer Force". Oh. and Sven Hassell, too, of course. Strange times.

ib said...

BTW, I just caught your William Shatner cologne contribution over on Doc 40. Congrats. I hadn't seen or heard of that line previously, and I need to properly digest it before I even think of leaving a comment up there. I'm still playing catch up. Great stuff, though!

Löst Jimmy said...

Sven Hassel books was a stable read for high school era - Hellmann of Hammer Force just blended in from that....suddenly it wasn't just jerry versus tommy but good jerry versus bad jerry

I couldn't believe the Trek cologne!
"Splash it all over, Kirk"

Anonymous said...

It's probably my fave Bowie album. Read somewhere that he wanted to release it without any reverb whatsoever, then "caved" and put reverb on everything. Maybe Station To Station Naked (i.e., sans reverb) will see the light some day...

ib said...

I didn't know that about the reverb, Emmett. Interesting. A remaster, "Station to Station Naked... No Platform Noise" would be excellent. Just crystal clarity.

WZJN said...

Sure, Ziggy was masterful, but STS was truely epic! Reverb or no this is a must own album for those interested in an artist in transition. The lazy, dreamy strum of WITW and the strong vocal intonations easily make this track an entry into my top 100 of all time.

Word on a wing and TVC15 are also not to be missed.

Wonderful post!

ib said...

Cheers, WZJN. It was difficult, in fact, to choose between "WITW" and "WOAW". More Bowie, no doubt, in the pipeline.

Anonymous said...

Hey, let's not forget the title track, arguably the best song ever!

ib said...

And arguably one of the best lines in "The return of the thin white duke, throwing darts in lovers' eyes..." Agreed.