Ranking David Bowie’s studio albums

This list needs no introduction. I’m proud to say that before the last twenty years repudiated The Rise of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars — his only album extant in the early Poppy Bush Interzone — I bought the Rykodisc reissue of Low in fall 1993. Thanks to Zooropa and Another Green World, I fell for the scouring: the harshness of the synth tracks was sacramental, a kind of purging of excesses, which, as I’ve aged, I understand. In this period, five years before coming out, I became aware of a trembling, a test. I knew his reputation; the queerness of his aesthetic choices I became aware of too.

The Hague

Tonight
Hours
Tin Machine

Meh

Pin Ups
Never Let Me Down
The Next Day
Tin Machine II

Sound, Solid

Young Americans
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Diamond Dogs
The Buddha of Suburbia
The Man Who Sold the World
Reality
Earthling
Heathen
Black Tie White Noise
Let’s Dance

Good to Great

Low
Station to Station

Lodger
Aladdin Sane
“Heroes”
Hunky Dory
Outside
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

4 thoughts on “Ranking David Bowie’s studio albums

  1. postpunkmonk

    PPM remix:

    The Hague

    Tonight
    Let’s Dance
    Never Let Me Down

    Meh

    Pin Ups
    Tin Machine II
    Outside
    Young Americans [RCA version]
    The Man Who Sold the World

    Sound, Solid

    Young Americans [Ryko version]
    The Next Day
    Reality
    Earthling
    Heathen
    Black Tie White Noise
    Tin Machine
    Aladdin Sane
    Hours

    Good to Great

    Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
    Diamond Dogs
    The Buddha of Suburbia
    Low
    Station to Station

    Lodger
    “Heroes”
    Hunky Dory
    The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

    Reply
  2. Jukebox

    Agree completely, although I haven’t spent enough time with “Lodger” (I will) and I would exchange “Aladdin Sane” with “Diamond Dogs”
    It’s funny because I have recently been reading some of Christgau’s blurbs about Mott the Hoople and how they perhaps hadn’t “earn” the status to be so self-referential even though it was a positive review.
    I’ve always loved Bowie for exactly the same reasons. The creator of myths and characters which for the most part of the 70s were his bread and butter. Even when he was not selling by the millions, exactly. It’s funny because I may find this annoying in other acts but not him. That’s why I loved what he did in Ashes to Ashes with “Major Tom” A sort of come-full-circle with his early output. I see “Scary Monsters” as in closing in a chapter. I like that.
    The Berlin trilogy is groundbreaking because he came down to earth, tematically, but musically it’s his most looking-forward period of the decade. And highly influential..
    I’m not much of a fan of “Pin-Ups” and I liked better “Young Americans” with age because he sounded so relaxed there even though he’s not (and the fabulous Rykodisc outtake “Who Can I Be Now?” it’s like a moving number of identity dysphoria where he takes off all his previous masks and sits on the couch with his shrink: his shrink being himself, of course)
    I think in “Let’s Dance” he tries just for fun. I can’t be too harsh on the album because that’s when he rally relaxed. It’s innocous, at worst. But he deserved a breakthrough in America so it gets some kind of sympathy to me just because of that. And I still like the title track (it’s a Gregory Isaacs song, I was stunned to find out that he just changes some verses and the music) and “Modern Love”.
    I miss him.

    Reply

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