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Artist Song Album Label Comments
David Bowie Life On Mars? Hunky Dory RCA 1971; 4th album; described by BBC Radio 2 as "a cross between a Broadway musical and a Salvador Dalí painting"; BBC Radio has described "Life on Mars" as having "one of the strangest lyrics ever" consisting of a "slew of surreal images" like a Salvador Dalí painting. The line "Look at those cavemen go" is a reference to the song "Alley Oop", a one-off hit in 1960 for American doo-wop band The Hollywood Argyles.; Piano by Yes' Rick Wakeman; Bowie summed up the song as "A sensitive young girl's reaction to the media". In 1997 he added "I think she finds herself disappointed with reality... that although she's living in the doldrums of reality, she's being told that there's a far greater life somewhere, and she's bitterly disappointed that she doesn't have access to it".
David Bowie Sunday Heathen ISO 2002; 23rd studio album
David Bowie The Bewlay Brothers Hunky Dory RCA 1971
David Bowie Come And Buy My Toys David Bowie Deram 1967; Debut album; Deram Records was a subsidiary record label of Decca Records established in the United Kingdom in 1966. At this time U.K. Decca was a completely different company from the Decca label in the United States, which was then owned by MCA Inc. Deram recordings were also distributed in the U.S. through UK Decca's American branch, known as London Records. Deram was active until 1979, then continued as a reissue label.
David Bowie Ziggy Stardust The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars RCA 1972; 5th studio album;
David Bowie Ashes To Ashes Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) RCA 1980; 14th studio album; The lyrics revisit Bowie's Major Tom character from 1969's "Space Oddity", which he referenced once again in 1995 with "Hallo Spaceboy". The song's original title was "People Are Turning to Gold."
David Bowie & Freddie Mercury/Queen Under Pressure Under Pressure / Soul Brother 7" (later included on Queen's 1982 album "Hot Space") EMI 1981; Queen had been working on the song under the title "Feel Like" but were not yet satisfied with the result. David Bowie had originally come to Mountain Studios to sing backing vocals on another Queen song, "Cool Cat", although his vocals were removed from the final song as he was not satisfied with his performance. Once he got there, they worked together for a while and wrote the song. The final version that became "Under Pressure" evolved from a jam session that Bowie had with the band at Queen's studio in Montreux, Switzerland
David Bowie Golden Years Station to Station RCA 1976; 10th studio album; When it first appeared as a single in 1975, "Golden Years" presented a somewhat skewed view of the forthcoming album, being more similar in style to the Young Americans funk/soul material from earlier in 1975 than the rest of Station to Station. The latter foreshadowed the Kraftwerk-influenced Euro-centric and electronic music that Bowie would move into with his late-1970s 'Berlin Trilogy'.
David Bowie Changes Hunky Dory RCA 1971
David Bowie Oh! You Pretty Things Hunky Dory RCA 1971; Thematically, the song has been seen as reflecting the influence of occultist Aleister Crowley and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche,[1][3] and heralding "the impending obsolescence of the human race in favour of an alliance between arriving aliens and the youth of the present society".
David Bowie Queen Bitch Hunky Dory RCA 1971; Bowie was a great Velvet Underground fan and wrote the song in tribute to the band and Lou Reed. He recorded a studio cover of Reed's "I'm Waiting for the Man" in 1967 (which remains unissued), as well as live versions, which may be heard on Bowie at the Beeb and on Live Nassau Coliseum '76 (in the 2010 special edition and deluxe edition re-issues of Station to Station). "Queen Bitch" starts with Bowie counting down to his acoustic guitar before Mick Ronson's thrashy guitar riff enters. The song's arrangement, featuring a melodic bass line, a tight drum pattern, choppy distorted guitar chords, and an understated vocal performance by Bowie, provided the template for the glam rock style that features prominently on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, his seminal 1972 follow-up to Hunky Dory. While the main riff is similar to The Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane", it is actually lifted from Eddie Cochran's "Three Steps to Heaven"
David Bowie Moonage Daydream The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars RCA 1972; 5th studio album; The song tells of an alien messiah and hints at his destiny to save the world from the impending disaster described in Bowie's "Five Years", as well as his fate as the quintessential "soul lover". In terms of the story arc of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, this is one of the most important songs as it describes the creation of Ziggy from a combination of religion, romance, sexual freedom, rebellion, and passion; he metamorphoses into the archetypal rock star.written by David Bowie in 1971 and first released as a single with the band Arnold Corns.
David Bowie The Man Who Sold The World The Man Who Sold The World Mercury 1970; 3rd studio album; The song's title is similar to that of Robert A. Heinlein's 1949 science fiction novella The Man Who Sold the Moon, with which Bowie was familiar. However, the song has no similarities to the story in the book. The persona in the song has an encounter with a kind of doppelganger, as suggested in the second chorus where "I never lost control" is replaced with "We never lost control".Beyond this, the episode is unexplained: as James E. Perone wrote, Bowie encounters the title character, but it is not clear just what the phrase means, or exactly who this man is. … The main thing that the song does is to paint – however elusively – the title character as another example of the societal outcasts who populate the album. In common with a number of tracks on the album, the song's themes have been compared to the horror-fantasy works of H. P. Lovecraft. The lyrics are also cited as reflecting Bowie's concerns with splintered or multiple personalities, and are believed to have been partially inspired by the poem "Antigonish" by William Hughes Mearns: “Last night I saw upon the stair A little man who wasn’t there He wasn’t there again today Oh, how I wish he’d go away…; In the BBC Radio 1 special programme "ChangesNowBowie", broadcast on 8 January 1997, Bowie was interviewed by Mary Anne Hobbs and was asked about the song. Bowie commented: "I guess I wrote it because there was a part of myself that I was looking for. Maybe now that I feel more comfortable with the way that I live my life and my mental state (laughs) and my spiritual state whatever, maybe I feel there's some kind of unity now. That song for me always exemplified kind of how you feel when you're young, when you know that there's a piece of yourself that you haven't really put together yet. You have this great searching, this great need to find out who you really are."
David Bowie Rubber Band David Bowie Deram 1967; The track itself shows Bowie’s infatuation at the time with English actor, singer & song-writer Anthony Newley
David Bowie We Are Hungry Men David Bowie Deram 1967; Debut album
David Bowie Bombers Bombers / Eight Line Poem 7" RCA 1971; intended for the album Hunky Dory, but was replaced at the last minute by the cover "Fill Your Heart".
David Bowie Fame Young Americans RCA 1975; 9th studio album; With the Young Americans sessions mostly concluded by late 1974, the material was delayed while Bowie extricated himself from his contract with manager Tony Defries. During this time, he was staying in New York, where he met John Lennon. The pair jammed together, leading to a one-day session at Electric Lady Studios in January 1975. There, Carlos Alomar had developed a guitar riff for Bowie's cover of "Footstompin'" by The Flairs, which Bowie thought was "a waste" to give to a cover. Lennon, who was in the studio with them, sang "aim" over the riff, which Bowie turned into "Fame" and he thereafter wrote the rest of the lyrics to the song. Bowie would later describe the song as "nasty, angry", and fully admitted that the song was written "with a degree of malice" aimed at the Mainman management group with whom he had been working at the time. In 1990, Bowie reflected: "I'd had very upsetting management problems and a lot of that was built into the song. I've left that all that behind me, now... I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing. The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants." Because of the strong influence of black music on the album, Bowie used the term "plastic soul" (originally coined by an unknown black musician in the 1960s) to describe the sound of Young Americans. Begun on 11 August 1974, during breaks in David Bowie's Diamond Dogs Tour, Young Americans was recorded by Tony Visconti primarily at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was agreed early on to record as much of the album as possible live, with the full band playing together, including Bowie's vocals, as a single continuous take for each song. According to Visconti, the album contains "about 85% 'live' David Bowie".[14] In order to create a more authentically soulful sound, Bowie brought in musicians from the funk and soul community, including an early-career Luther Vandross and Andy Newmark, drummer of Sly and the Family Stone. It was also Bowie's first time working with Carlos Alomar, leading to a working relationship spanning more than 30 years. Carlos, who hadn't heard of Bowie before being called in to help with the album, recalled that Bowie was "the whitest man I've ever seen – translucent white" when they met.[15] Carlos said of how the album was put together: David always does the music first. He'll listen for a while then if he gets a little idea the session stops and he writes something down and we continue. But later on, when the music is established, he'll go home and the next day the lyrics are written. I'd finish the sessions and be sent home and I never heard words and overdubs until the record was released. The sessions at Sigma Sound lasted through November 1974. The recording had attracted the attention of local fans who began to wait outside the studio over the span of the sessions. Bowie built up a rapport with these fans, whom he came to refer to as the "Sigma Kids". On the final day of tracking the Sigma Kids were invited into the studio to listen to rough versions of the new songs.
David Bowie Beauty and The Beast Heroes RCA 1977; 12th studio album; The opening music, a disjointed combination of piano, guitar, electronics and voice rising steadily to a crescendo, has been described as sounding like "Bowie is about to turn into The Incredible Hulk before your very ears". The song proper features Robert Fripp on lead guitar, with treatments and synthesizer work by Brian Eno. Fripp has stated that his guitar work on the track is a first take made straight upon arrival at the studio. The lyrics have been interpreted as a look back at Bowie's severe mood swings during his cocaine addiction while living in Los Angeles from 1975 to 1976, with the line "Thank God Heaven left us standing on our feet" suggesting the singer's gratitude for making it through that period. The phrase "someone fetch a priest" alludes not to a desire for religious succour but to co-producer Tony Visconti's frequent expletive during the recording sessions for "Heroes"
David Bowie Let's Dance Let's Dance EMI 1983; 15th studio album; "Let's Dance" introduced Bowie to a new younger audience oblivious to his former career in the 1970s. Although the track was his most popular to date, its very success had the incongruous effect of distancing Bowie from his new fans, with Bowie saying he did not know who they were or what they wanted. His next two albums, made as an attempt to cater to his new-found audience, suffered creatively as a result.
David Bowie Boys Keep Swinging Lodger RCA 1979; 13th studio album; During the Lodger recording sessions, Bowie had wanted to capture a garage band style for the track, and agreed with Brian Eno that the best way to achieve this sound was to get the band to swap instruments after this was 'suggested' by Eno's deck of 'Oblique Strategies' cards which supplied the suggestion "Reverse Roles". Guitarist Carlos Alomar played drums and drummer Dennis Davis played bass. "Boys Keep Swinging" has exactly the same chord sequence as the song "Fantastic Voyage" from the album of the same name.
David Bowie Panic In Detroit Aladdin Sane RCA 1973; 6th studio album; Bowie based it on friend Iggy Pop's descriptions of revolutionaries he had known as a youth in Michigan. It is also interpreted as being written about the 1967 Detroit riots, also known as the 12th Street riot, was a violent public disorder that turned into a civil disturbance in Detroit, Michigan. It began on a Saturday night in the early morning hours of July 23, 1967. The precipitating event was a police raid of an unlicensed, after-hours bar then known as a blind pig, on the corner of 12th (today Rosa Parks Boulevard) and Clairmount streets on the city's Near West Side. Police confrontations with patrons and observers on the street evolved into one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in the history of the United States, lasting five days and surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit's 1943 race riot. Musically "Panic in Detroit" has been described as a "Salsa variation on the Bo Diddley beat", and features prominent conga drums and female backing vocals. The lyrics namecheck Che Guevara and are also said to contain references to John Sinclair of the White Panther Party.
David Bowie Starman The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars RCA 1972; 5th studio album
David Bowie Lazarus Blackstar ISO 2016; FINAL ALBUM
David Bowie Always Crashing In The Same Car Low RCA 1977; 11th studio album