[Versus pits two of an artist’s classic albums against each other even if they’re stylistically different, because that “you can’t compare apples and oranges” bullshit is for people without balls, spines, or all those other things that separate us from the villainous jellyfish.]
David Bowie is one of the greatest musicians of all time. Knock him all you want – he made plenty of crappy album, he stole from a lot of people – but he’s still awesome, and you’re still a dick. Dude wrote “Queen Bitch;” what have you done? At the same time,
There are two records in his vast discography that stand out as exceptional, though, and each one was a harbinger of sorts for Bowie’s many stylistic changes: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars is, for many, the zenith of Bowie’s glam rock period, while Low is the pinnacle of his experiment/post-punk period and the best entry in his “Berlin Trilogy” for others. They were released five years apart, and they sound like they came from two very different creators. You can argue that Ziggy and Low weren’t entirely left field creations – flecks of flam rock show up The Man Who Sold the World, while Station to Station predicts the krautrock direction
And let’s be honest: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide” is a darn good closing track, tapping into rock’s mythology about casualties so well that
Low isn’t quite the opposite of that, but it comes close. For his first collaboration with Brian Eno,
Low is a more dynamic record, one that lends itself to different moods. There’s a chilly mood that lingers, but plenty of guitar licks that give it a sunnier vibe, like on the opening instrumental “Speed of Life.” Other standouts include the spastic rhythm of “What in the World” and the ominous build of “Always Crashing in the Same Car.” These opening tunes are all condensed, poppy, yet otherworldly. The flipside explores more ethereal territory, like the lengthy “Warszawa.” “Art Decade” is another solid, searching tune. “Weeping Wall” is deliciously weird.
Ziggy is the better gateway album to
Seriously, though, listen to those drums!