Looking back at his 40+ years, Bowie’s highest chart topping album was Station to Station. It reached the top five. He’s never and an album hit number one, but many of his singles have reached the top spot. At the time of this posting, his new album is charting at 35.
The song Space Oddity hit number one in November of 1975. Ashes to Ashes made the top spot five years later. Under Pressure was also a number one song, along with Let’s Dance, and Dancing in the Street. He’s had 23 top ten hit songs, if you include Where Are We Now.
Bowie had over ten years of solid tours, and hit songs before musical tastes had changed. Dancing in the Street was his last top ten hit song for many years to follow. He released three truly bad albums between the years 1986 and 1988, and acted in three just as awful movies in that same time period.
When he created the band Tin Machine in the late 1980’s, those of us who find every Bowie effort a “must listen,” would have to agree that this was not one of those times where the project clicked in like a puzzle piece. Personally, I had completely forgotten about the Tin Machine years. When I watch those old Tin Machine videos, it looks as if he’s trying to capture a bit of that late 1980’s punk momentum. You just can’t “un-class” a guy like Bowie. It didn’t work.
His 1993 release of Black Tie White Noise was hailed as his glorious return to the music that he’s best known for. While I agree that songs such as Night Flights and You’ve Been Around certainly sound like the old Bowie, it’s hard for me to say that the album was any better than some of his marginal works.
Nine Inch Nails And David BowieHe tried his hand at appealing to a younger audience when he hooked up with Nine Inch Nails in 1995. That tour failed to bring new listeners to Bowie’s music. Fans of Nine Inch Nails just didn’t get it. In fact, there was a bit of backlash from those who felt that he was trying to wedge his way into a fully matured musical culture that had no need for old farts like David. It’s funny to see that Trent Reznor’s fans love Gary Numan, a band that came to fame 15 years before Reznor became a household name, but they passed on Mr. Bowie outright. But then, Reznor owes his musical career to guys like Numan.
If I’m allowed to fast forward to his 2003 release of Reality, I would say that the first song on the disk is quite strong, but the remaining songs seem to drift. David Bowie had a serious heart issue while supporting that disk, and it was scary enough to force him to retreat from the stage. Bowie took a ten year break, but the wait was worth it. The Next Day is a strong effort, and I find nary a “clunker” on the CD. I hope he doesn’t take another ten year break. If he tours to support the new album, I’m certainly going to check him out.