5 of the best albums from visionary rocker David Bowie
The British star was one of the most influential figures in modern music for almost 50 years
Over the course of a recording career that started in 1967, David Bowie was a musical chameleon who worked in a bewildering range of styles from pop and glam rock to electronic and experimental music. Of his 27 studio albums – the final being Blackstar, released on January 8, just two days before his death – here are the five most influential.
Hunky Dory (1971)
The breakthrough album that, after the baffling heavy rock of The Man Who Sold the World a few months before, announced Bowie as a significant artist.
Alongside future pop classics such as Oh! You Pretty Things and Life on Mars? could be found potted assessments of Dylan and Warhol.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972)
Consistently ranked one of the greatest albums of all time, Bowie’s glam rock masterpiece is a concept album about a bisexual alien rock superstar. As rock operas go, it has better tunes than The Who’s Tommy and none of the bombast of Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, concentrating instead on delivering a simple tale dramatically and stylishly.
Bowie decamped to Berlin with electronic producer Brian Eno, the man best equipped to effect a bridge between Krautrock’s sonic avant-garde and Bowie’s own unerring pop and funk instincts, for the first of the Thin White Duke’s acclaimed Berlin trilogy.
Experimental and ahead of its time, if it was released today it would be labelled post-rock.
The second of Bowie’s Berlin trilogy is more visceral and positive overall than its melancholy predecessor Low, but repeats that album’s format, with the rock tracks on one side and the more contemplative, atmospheric pieces on the other. Despite the presence of some dark instrumentals, there is also the euphoric title track that became one of Bowie’s signature numbers.
Let’s Dance (1983)
Bowie’s 15th album achieved platinum success in the UK and US, and transformed the left-field artist into a mainstream megastar. Completing Bowie’s shiny new look was a shiny new sound courtesy of co-producer Nile Rodgers, of disco icons Chic, who brought his distinctively funky touch to the album’s standout tracks, Let’s Dance and China Girl.