Review of David Bowie: David Bowie (aka Space Oddity)

Please read Alain DuPuis’s  selection article of David Bowie’s Space Oddity before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
There were so many great reflections on David Bowie and this album in our comments that I cannot properly summarize in a paragraph. I know I harp on this but as we live in an age of over produced artists and music, it is so important to recognize talent that breaks through on their own merit. David Bowie lead a bold and crazy life and has his place in music history. Please take time and listen to his portfolio, the musicians you listen to now sure did.
What was cool about this album:

  • We all loved this album, but in many cases we all related to different songs. There is literally something for everyone in this work of Bowie.
  • Space Oddity, which debuted 4 months after the Apollo 11 landing took Prog Rock into the mainstream and defined David Bowie. “Ground Control to Major Tom…”
  • David Bowie is cool.

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • Hard to find a flaw but there are some songs that you will relate to more than others. Also if you are not a folk music fan, you may not warm to this right away.
  • That we didn’t listen to this album earlier and more often. This is well written music.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 5
Influenced our tastes: 3
Worth the hype? 4
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
It’s been years since I played this album, so listening to it again was refreshing. I recall not overly enjoying it back in the day, but since then, I’d like to think that my taste in music has grown and broadened somewhat.
A number of tracks on the album really hit it out of the park for me. Of course, the first and probably most well-known track, Space Oddity makes the cut. Anyone else immediately think of that scene from Friends where Chandler awkwardly sings it into a VHS Camcorder?  No? Just me? It’s a great, sci-fi classic that (I’m assuming) played off the excitement of the Apollo 11 mission, and the cold war space-race at the time.

The song Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed was another fun one to listen to. I kept going back to it. I think the harmonica plays a big part in the “fun factor.”
Janine was a fun track as well. The guitar noodling and bouncing bass line throughout the song really made it a joy to listen to on repeat. I found the song to be quite catchy as well.
I wasn’t a big fan of the songs Letter to Hermoine or Cygnet Committee musically, though I have to admit the lyrics are masterfully written. Ultimately though, I just didn’t feel anything when I listened to them, which is a big deal for me when it comes to how much enjoyment I can get from a song.
Final thoughts
The album was a lot more folksy than I remember it being, but it occurs to me maybe that’s why it didn’t really strike me as being enjoyable when I was younger. I can certainly appreciate it more these days. It’s fairly apparent Bowie was having fun when he was recording this album. He’s heard laughing on a couple of tracks, and you can almost sense the smile on his face as he delivers his vocals. I am a big fan of the broad variety of unconventional instruments that pop up in the album. Flutes, harmonicas, accordions, woodwinds, retro synths? Check! Yet somehow, despite the fact that those odd instruments usually didn’t appear on the same track together, the whole album still seems pretty cohesive… Minus the title track Space Oddity, which stands out as being very sonically different, and still my favorite on the album.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4
 
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Scott Coates’s Review
Appraising a legendary album by a legendary artist is not an easy task, but February’s pick demands it of us! I must admit that reviewing David Bowie’s Space Oddity is a bit skewed, as I, and many others have done – devouring his work since his passing, catching up on everything that was and is BOWIE. This is a person who transcended music, fashion, film, and was a living piece of art for most of his life. I can’t purport to have been a Bowie super-fan, but did own a couple of his albums and have admired a good number of his better-known songs most of my life. Since his passing, my knowledge of a wider scope of Bowie’s catalogue has increased (not sure why I needed to wait until he passed away) and I have a much greater appreciation of an artist I view as one of the greats.
Space Oddity is a highly risky and exploratory work. It’s tough to imagine how a then unknown artist would put out this collection of songs, while looking as he did. It must have been a bit like walking the plank and career suicide in the eyes of most. But as is the case with some geniuses that go down as legends, he seems to have known precisely where he was headed and wove a work that was complex in many complicated ways. It requires a good many listens to begin to fully grasp this album, digest and appreciate it. He set his legendary status in motion from the get go.
Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed particularly grabs me and exudes a slinky feel that is reminiscent of time – what the Stones, Yardbirds – and others were doing at the time. But this was vibrantly Bowie – blazing trails out of the gate.
The first track for which the work is named, Space Oddity, is emblematic – setting a concept forward. What a timely track when released: November 14, 1969; less than four months since Apollo 11 landed Man on the moon for the first time (July 20). Our collective imagination was undoubtedly in dazzled overload and Bowie provided the exploratory soundtrack.
So diving into Space Oddity at this particular time, when the Man, David Bowie, has departed, not only deepened my larger understanding of the character, but I’ve branched out in to other Bowie-related directions. Few times in one’s life are you certainly enjoying a piece of art that truly sets the bar to new heights and illustrates the times passionately. This is one such thing.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype?: 4
 
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
Have I mentioned how much I love this music collective we have? I am fully aware that very few people read our posts, yet I could care less. Any opportunity to immerse myself in music like this is a true treat. As I have always been a music glutton, I simply cannot get enough and as I age I find I am developing a better appreciation for music, especially music that I may have skimmed over previously. This month was a delight to go back to David Bowie’s second album.
I can proudly say that I don’t ever remember not liking David Bowie, but I never owned an album of his until I was 14 when Let’s Dance came out. Hey, I know it is a pop album and reflecting now it pales to his earlier work like this reviewed album, but I was 14 and it was fun. I had heard his popular songs on the radio as a boy/pre-teen but it wasn’t until many years later that I grew to appreciate the artist that Bowie is.
It was great to review Space Oddity as I could not remember the last time I listened to the album in its entirety, or even If I had to be honest. I discovered that as I listened to the album over the month that I loved it more with each listen. Bowie puts so much in to his work that you do really have to listen several times to absorb all the lyrics and complexity and meaning of his songs. I don’t usually say shit like that as you can always just play his music and just enjoy it. I always recommend getting a little “fuzzy” before listening to great albums and chill with a drink while you experience them.
I was a little surprised how mellow and folk influenced this album was. I think many of us assume that David Bowie’s earlier stuff was all uber-alternative and upbeat so this was a nice surprise. This would fit nicely along with many of the Beatles albums around this time. Space Oddity is obviously awesome but so is most every song on this album. I was really drawn to God Knows I’m Good and Janine as other stand out songs for me.
Like all great albums, this one does stand the test of time. Bowie could have released this today and it would still be an excellent album. I was very saddened by the passing of David Bowie, but we all have an end to life and he definitely had a full and rewarding life. If you haven’t already gone back and listened to Bowie, or maybe you haven’t listened to him at all, I plead to you to make room in your music collection for these songs, you won’t regret it.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review

David Bowie. Musical legend, taken too soon. Lampooned by Lady Gaga at the Grammies and given a fitting tribute by Lorde at the Brits. It was time to take a look at one of his definitive albums. Certainly the one that began his trip centre stage in Britain and beyond.
Although only Space Oddity still makes it on the radio with any regularity, the entire album is incredibly strong. I’m a fan of the darker, moodier side of folk music, with the occassional love balled thrown in, the likes of Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. And while they say this album is supposed to straddle Folk and Prog Rock, I really can’t help but hear the Folk side more clearly.
The instrumental composition on the album is fine, and sometimes even interesting, but when discussing folk I usually focus on the lyrics, and this album has a wealth of great writing to mine. After Space Oddity, here are the three songs I found the most appealing, along with how they spoke to me. You’ll of course find your own connection.
Janine, despite grating on me because of his soft-J on the name, is a touching tale of a man not quite ready to open up and share himself with his love. He pleads to keep things simple and light with her, because to get any deeper would be to face himself and her at the same time.
A Letter to Hermione, no not that one, is a little more straightforward for a love song, but unlike the last one certainly over. Lost love, unrequited? All we know is poor David is left writing to his former love, now in the arms of another. Poor guy has no luck.
Cygnet Committee, wow. Usually when I see a track with a run time of over nine minutes I figure there have to be massive soloes all over the place. But this song has lyrics that go on for daaays! For me, that’s a good thing, considering how good they are. I’m a big fan of dystopian literature, and this song fits the bill. It’s a wonderful commentary on revolution and “careful what you wish for”. Well worth the listen. I also think it’s one of the better composed songs on the album as well.
Overall, if you’re a fan of 60s Folk or 70s/early 80s progressive rock, this album should work out for you. Is it Bowie’s best? How do you pick a best with so many amazing choices? I would say compared to its contemporaries, this album is amazing and worth a listen or two, or three. Out of all the albums reviewed, this one you need to actually sit and “listen” to in order to get full value. I’ve always thought his greatest strength was in his songwriting, and this album has it on full display.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend: 5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype: 4
 
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
My first experience with Bowie was looking at his huge package. I’m 12 years old, sitting in the front row of Labyrinth, watching the Goblin King dance around in a tight gray leotard thinking “Man, that’s…obvious.” I didn’t know it at the time, but the only thing that overshadowed the Goblin King’s king goblin was his music. I’m not sure if that had an effect on my future impressions of Bowie, but that was my first experience with the man, anyway.
Like a lot of Sonic Collective picks lately, I hadn’t really listened to Bowie before this album. Space Oddity (the song) yeah, and a few tracks from various movies, but nothing more than that. I was aware he was an influential icon but never really caught the Bowie bug enough to want to seek him out. My mistake.
I really loved Space Oddity(the album), and it surprised me. Much of the stuff that came out of this era (and especially from artists like Bowie who were rather…unconventional) passes through my head like random blips and boops. Space Oddity surprised me with how bluesy and even rockabilly some of the songs sounded. The title song remains haunting, although what really grabs me here are the power of the lyrics. the poetry in how such simple words can express something so horrifying like drifting away from Earth. Wacky, far-fetched sci-fi? Sure. But still a touching and tight goodbye letter from a husband to a wife.
Another standout was Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed, which reminded me of something you’d hear in jam session at a local blues club, and certainly not something I’d expect from Bowie. I’m starting to see why people have always been in awe of his ability to mix genres. Similarly with Janine – I couldn’t help my toes from tapping, and again, if I’d had a few beers you could probably convince me I was listening to a CCR B-side.
Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud was an interesting listen as well, its tempo rising and dipping, horns blaring…is this late-era Beatles? I’m noticing a theme here – I’m hearing alot of other artists in this album, so again – hearing how influential Bowie was is not at all an overstatement.
Even the songs I didn’t really like – Letter to Hermione, God Knows I’m Good, Memory of a Free Festival – were still a pleasant listen. Fine songs, lyrically creative, well put together, and masterfully sung, just not as catchy as the others.
I’m really glad Alain picked this album and sorry I didn’t listen to it earlier. I’ll most definitely be taking a deeper dive into Bowie’s catalogue to see what else I will enjoy.
Overall opinion: 4.5
Would we recommend?: 5
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4

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