David Bowie - Station to Station: Deluxe Edition

David Bowie
Station to Station

[Deluxe Edition]


First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2011, Volume 18, #1

Written by John Metzger

Tue January 25, 2011, 06:30 AM CST


Often identified in hindsight, transitional albums connect one era of an artist’s work to another. These sorts of efforts aren’t always very successful simply because they often feel strained, containing a mixture of concepts that fail to function as a cohesive whole. Who says, however, that transitional albums can’t also be magnificent? David Bowie’s Station to Station is a prime example. In fact, it certainly ranks among the finest outings that Bowie has ever recorded.

Always a restless performer, Bowie spent the first decade of his career tinkering with sounds and shifting directions. Every time he perfected a persona, he would shed his skin and evolve into something different. In his hands, British folk mutated into glam-rock, and the extraterrestrial savior that helmed Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane became the dance-floor maven that guided Young Americans. Station to Station provided a mechanism for Bowie to move beyond the blatant genre exercises that filled its predecessor. In the process, it tied many of the strands of his career together, all of which were inexorably bound by a pervading sense of his own alienation and search for connection. Yet, Station to Station also formed the chrysalis from which Bowie’s Berlin trilogy (Low, Heroes, and Lodger) eventually emerged.

These notions are further fueled by the concert at Nassau Coliseum from March 23, 1976, which is included in both the Special and Deluxe editions of Station to Station. Within the 15-song, 82-minute performance, it is immediately apparent that, for as astoundingly brilliant as Station to Station was, Bowie continued to be stuck in a period of transition. The concert not only magnified his directional uncertainty, but it also revealed how thin the ledge upon which he was standing happened to be.

Interestingly, Bowie already had purged most of the material from Young Americans from his performances. Including them would have been redundant considering that the songs from Station to Station largely served the same purpose. Spread throughout the show, the collection’s title track, Word on a Wing, Stay, and TVC15 form the necessary touchstones that identify the fragility of his frame of mind.

When Bowie tackled songs from his past, he rarely played them straight. Instead, he exaggerated the theatrics of Life on Mars?, Five Years, and Changes, and he viewed the rest of the selections as malleable compositions that could be bent to fit the rhythmic shimmy of his infatuation with dance-friendly grooves. During the Nassau Coliseum concert featured on Station to Station, Suffragette City was ecstatically funky, while Diamond Dogs was fueled by a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy. Nevertheless, there were moments during the show when Bowie seemed to be on the verge of collapse. It was only by some miracle that he was still standing when his band charged through the blues-y intoxication of The Jean Genie.

Without question, then, the six studio tracks that compose Station to Station continue to serve as the main event. It is truly unfortunate that the outing’s incarnation as a 5.1 surround sound recording is limited to the overstuffed deluxe boxed set. The enhanced audio mix is crisp and clean, and the instrumentation crackles with multi-dimensional force. Instead of sounding gimmicky, the presentation further enhances the desperation and fear that emanated from Bowie’s alienation. His emotional isolation had become his prison, and as much as he was crying for connection (Stay) and seeking salvation (Word on a Wing), he couldn’t escape the paranoid hallucinations (TVC15) that had conquered his mind. With Station to Station, Bowie had tried to dance his troubles away, but eventually, he realized that his only hope was to leave the hedonism of Los Angeles behind. starstarstarstarstar


Of Further Interest...

The Cure - Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me: Deluxe Edition

Paul McCartney - Band on the Run / Archive Collection

Radiohead - Kid A


Station to Station [Deluxe Edition] is
available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

Station to Station [Special Edition] is
available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!



1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2011 The Music Box