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10 of the best Bowie album tracks

  • By MisterCharlie Author Avatar
  • 14 February 2013

With the imminent return of one of pop culture’s greatest living icons, we thought it was time to delve into David’s vast, occasionally spotty, mostly glorious back catalogue. Bowie has proved himself a master of the single time and again, and we’ve no doubt he will once more, but it’s the albums that have fleshed out his concepts into the all-consuming personas that have enchanted fans for decades. Here are 10 great moments from the legendary chameleon:

10. Heathen (the rays) – Heathen

Dodgy territory for many Bowie fans I know, but the fact remains  - he didn’t actually piss off in 1980, there have been records made post Scary Monsters, and (whisper it) some of them are even pretty good. 2003’s Heathen was one such record, and the title track which sees Bowie responding to the Twin Towers attacks of September 11th is everything you could want from the duke – arching vocals, Motown-esque rhythms and even sonic references to Low. Underrated.


9. Yassassin  - Lodger


Allegedly all the songs on Lodger have the same chord progression, which is something we’ll leave the more muso inclined amongst you to argue about. What we do know, is that Yassassin is a highpoint on the album, a crazy, percussive festival of Bowie madness, all wrapped up in a fetching cloak of Turkish mysticism

8. Oh! You Pretty Things – Hunky Dory

Who else could knock off a glam stomp along that referenced Nietzsche, Aleister Crowley and alienation yet still keep it this damn catchy? This song is so well known it feels like a single, and a pre Yes Rick Wakeman excels on the barroom boogie-woogie keyboard.

7. Without You – Let’s Dance

Bowie has been quoted as saying the Nile Rodger’s produced Let’s Dance LP ‘fucked with his integrity’. Its marriage of high gloss disco bass to swamp blues riffs meant that he suddenly found himself with a whole new fanbase who didn’t give a toss about androgynous aliens – but it also gave the world a handful of amazing songs, recorded in just 17 days, by two musical greats. Bowie’s loss was our gain, and we would have happily picked any track from the album. As it is, Without You is a beautifully paced funk ballad, delicate and danceable.


6. Panic In Detroit Aladdin Sane

Featuring Mick Jones’ glam riffs at their finest, Panic In Detroit’s joyous tempo is powered by thunderous drums and Bowie’s warbling vocals, all building to a tumultuous final guitar solo.


5. The Man Who Sold the World – The Man Who Sold The World

Famously given an incredible acoustic treatment by Bowie superfan Kurt Cobain, The Man Who Sold The World finds David at his creepy best, somehow turning ambiguous themes of power and madness into near perfect pop.  

4. What In The World – Low

Wonky and wild eyed with life, What In The World speaks in a peculiar, funky language all of its own. It’s not-quite-2-and-a-half-minutes of jerking, angular guitars and British accents has a thrilling propulsion – I’d say they also contain the template for half of Blur’s Parklife album.

3. I’m Deranged – Outside

David Lynch decided to use I’m Deranged in the opening credits of Lost Highway which is pretty much all the sales pitch you need for this skittering insectoid jam culled from Outside, Bowie’s ’95 reunion with Brain Eno.


2. Can You Hear Me  - Young Americans

With a vocal melody that carries the DNA of Ziggy Stardust within its elegant swoop, the sweet ‘plastic soul’ of Can You Hear Me is an exemplary example of the strength and fragility the best Bowie tracks convey. Fans were surprised that it never made it as a single release from Young Americans, relegated instead to the B side of Golden Years.  

1.Ziggy Stardust – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars

And speaking of Ziggy… it’s truly amazing that this song never had a single release. It’s starburst of fantastic glam energy burned itself into collective memory like the imprint of the sun on the inside of an eyelid. It’s been covered by everyone from Def Leppard, to Of Montreal, to some joker called Techno Cowboy, and we doubt anyone will ever trump the magnificent original. Timeless.