David Bowie's 14 favorite albums
David Bowie was an English musician, actor, and artist who was a leading figure in the glam rock movement of the 1970s. Throughout his career, Bowie released a total of 25 studio albums and became known for his innovative and eclectic sound, which incorporated elements of rock, pop, and electronic music. He was also known for his colorful and iconic stage presence and his willingness to experiment with different personas and musical styles. David Bowie's albums "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" and "Heroes" are considered classic works of the glam rock and art rock genres, respectively. Bowie died in January 2016 after a battle with cancer.
David Bowie's favorite albums
- The FugsThe Fugs
- Charles MingusOh Yeah
- Toots and the MaytalsFunky Kingston
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a reggae nut, you will have this, of course. Toots Hibbert claimed me with his powerful “Pressure Drop” contribution to the Harder They Come soundtrack in the early 70s. Then followed this fantastic and truly funky album in 1973. I was living on a street off the quite gentrified Cheney Walk in London, and for the first time I started getting complaints from neighbors about the volume I played my records at, this beauty being the main culprit. Hibbert, by the way, claims to be “the Inventor of Reggae.” Nice one, Toots.
- Syd BarrettThe Madcap Laughs
Syd will always be the Pink Floyd for some of us older fans. He made this album, according to legend, while fragile and precariously out of control. Malcolm Jones, one of his producers at the time, denies this vehemently. I will go with Jones, as he was there. Highlight track for me is “Dark Globe,” gloriously disturbing and poignant all at once.
- Glenn BrancaThe Ascension
- Tucker ZimmermanTen Songs By Tucker Zimmerman
Now there’s a title with cool clarity. The guy’s way too qualified for folk, in my opinion. Degrees in theory and composition, studying under composer Henry Onderdonk, Fulbright scholarship, and he wants to be Dylan. A waste of an incendiary talent? Not in my opinion. I always found this album of stern, angry compositions enthralling, and often wondered what ever happened to him. Tucker, an American, was one of the first artists to be produced by my friend and co-producer Tony Visconti, also an American, after they found each other in London. I wonder? Ah, yup, he’s got a Web site. Lives in Belgium. Look him up.
- The Incredible String BandThe 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion
O.K., here’s the album with the trippiest cover. Color’s all over the place on this one, a real eye dazzler. Probably executed by the art group known as “the Fool.” Pretty much locked into a time capsule for many years—it’s uplifting to find that this strange assortment of Middle Eastern and Celtic folk-mystic stuff stands up remarkably well now. A summer-festival “must” in the 60s, myself and T. Rexer Marc Bolan both being huge fans.
- Tom DisseveltThe Electrosoniks: Electronic Music
This was one of those strange albums put out by the record companies to show off that newfangled stereo. Only, here Philips opted for a truly pioneering couple of Dutch bods, Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan. As sonic explorers, these two rate along with Ennio Morricone, but far loopier. I’d adore a 5.1 mix of these absurdities. The sleeve notes inform us that “chimpanzees are painting, gorillas are writing.” Way to go.
- Daevid AllenBanana Moon
- James BrownThe James Brown Show (Live At The Apollo)
My old schoolmate Geoff MacCormack brought this around to my house one afternoon, breathless and overexcited. “You have never, in your life, heard anything like this,” he said. I made a trip to see Jane Greene that very afternoon. Two of the songs on this album, “Try Me” and “Lost Someone,” became loose inspirations for Ziggy’s “Rock & Roll Suicide.” Brown’s Apollo performance still stands for me as one of the most exciting live albums ever. Soul music now had an undisputed king.
- Koerner, Ray & GloverBlues, Rags and Hollers
Bought at Dobell’s. In his own way, “Spider” John Koerner was an influence on Bob Dylan, with whom he used to play in the coffee bars of Dinkytown, the arty section around the University of Minnesota. Demolishing the puny vocalizations of “folk” trios like the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Whatsit, Koerner and company showed how it should be done. First time I had heard a 12-string guitar.
- The Velvet UndergroundThe Velvet Underground & Nico
Brought back from New York by a former manager of mine, Ken Pitt. Pitt had done some kind of work as a P.R. man that had brought him into contact with the Factory. Warhol had given him this coverless test pressing (I still have it, no label, just a small sticker with Warhol’s name on it) and said, “You like weird stuff—see what you think of this.” What I “thought of this” was that here was the best band in the world.
- Steve ReichMusic for 18 musicians
Bought in New York. Balinese gamelan music cross-dressing as Minimalism. Saw this performed live in downtown New York in the late 70s. All white shirts and black trousers. Having just finished a tour in white shirt and black trousers, I immediately recognized Reich’s huge talent and great taste. The music (and the gymnastics involved in executing Reich’s tag-team approach to shift work) floored me. Astonishing.
- The Last PoetsThe Last Poets
One of the fundamental building blocks of rap. All the essential “griot” narrative skills, splintered with anger here, produce one of the most political vinyls to ever crack the Billboard chart. While talking rap (what?), I can piggyback this great treat with the 1974 compilation The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Flying Dutchman), which pulls together the best of the formidable Gil Scott-Heron works.