Review Summary: The most colorful album of David Bowie.
David Bowie is mostly known that he can change musical direction or learn some musical style and write the whole album using that style. He is musical chameleon. By 1976, he was changing styles like underwear, first he began as a folk singer, that he added some prog to his music, then some 1960s sound, then came Ziggy, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs, soul... and after 1976, he would collaborate with Brian Eno and Iggy Pop. He already did the same with John Lennon and Lou Reed.
On "Station To Station" album his aforementioned trait comes to full strength. He took influences of Scott Walker, Dinah Washington, soul, disco and psychedelia into his melting pot, and made a delicious meal. In fact, he created his very own genre, borrowing a little bit from all. Here he gave us his five songs plus cover "Wild Is The Wind". "Stay", "Golden Years" and "TVC15" are basically disco soul songs filled with psychedelic elements and catchy, though avant guard hooks. Although the soul music is known as "warm" and "emotional", well, when Bowie sings it, there is no warmth. He can be very convincing as a singer but he is not warm, rather is distant and mechanical. His backing band often uses here mechanical repetitive patterns to bring us feelings of insecurity, arrogance (paradoxically but true), glamor, paranoia and neurosis.
His performances are energetic, the faster songs sounding friendly, cinematic, and flashy, maybe self obsessed, slower ones ("Word On The Wing" and "Wild Is The Wind") sound more unpleasant, cold and neurotic. The best example is "TVC15": an up-tempo friendly soul influenced track, but twisted by Bowie's singing: Bowie sounds stoned or on something. Also pay attention to instrument (is it guitar or synth) that produces high tones during Bowie's singing the verses, which contributes to the druggy sound. Although he sang on the title track "European canon is here", he sound like American, to be more precise, it is very Hollywoodified record to me, maybe more than The Eagles' "Hotel California" or Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours". Maybe it is because of cocaine, Bowie was then reportedly addicted to coke, and had doubts about his own sanity.
The title track is maybe one of Bowie's best songs:
"Once were the mountains on the mountains
and once were sunbirds to soar with
and once I could never be down
got to keep searching and searching
and oh what will I be believing and who will connect me with love?"
Maybe that is why it is so good: Bowie has been always on his way, restlessly inventing, improving, discovering and Bowie is just Bowie on "Station To Station" song. Musically it is head and shoulders above the rest of the album making a perfect symphony out of two maybe not to similar parts: the first one, which is slowly, dissonant and maybe scary and second part, hymn-like, celebratory and life-affirming. The heart of the album.
It is not easy album to warm to, but it is said that it is one that defined post-punk, post-new wave genre. There are many reasons why.