The Best Of David Bowie 1969/1974

David Bowie

Virgin, 1997

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Although the single-disc Changesbowie and the double-disc Best of Bowie remain the best introductions for casual fans or newcomers to the wonders of David Bowie's music, this set – the first of three covering Bowie's career throgh 1987 – is still worth considering as a point of entry.

Unlike the main compilations, this one has room to stretch out with the time period it covers. The hits are all here, of course, along with key album tracks and a few non-album rarities that every Bowie fan should either own or be familiar with, as they are important to the story.

As expected, only "Space Oddity" and "The Man Who Sold the World" make the cut from Bowie's first two albums, but those are all the songs most people need from those early releases. The rest of this goes through the best of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs, with "Sorrow" pulled from Pin-Ups because it was a single, not because it's a great song.

It's about the only non-great song here, though. The disc mostly showcases a stunning and timeless body of work, with great song after great song: the driving rocker "Suffragette City," the snarling "Rebel Rebel," the melancholy "Starman" and "Man Who Sold The World," the effervescent "Space Oddity," the thoughtful acoustic "Changes" and the no-bullshit "The Jean Genie" and "Diamond Dogs."

Showcasing the glam rock period of Bowie's career, the point where Ziggy Stardust was about the biggest thing on two continents, this collection includes the title track to that album as well as  the morose music hall-isms of "Velvet Goldmine," the title cut to a glam movie of the period, and the anthem "All The Young Dudes," which Bowie wrote for Mott The Hoople. His version isn't quite as good as theirs, but the song is important for Bowie history and its inclusion is welcome.

The single "John, I'm Only Dancing" is here in its saxophone version, as is "Rock And Roll Suicide," the closing cut from Ziggy. A lot of space is given to Aladdin Sane, but unfortuantely the wrong songs make the cut; "Let's Spend The Night Together" and "The Prettiest Star" are here instead of the far superior "Panic In Detroit," "Watch That Man" and especially "Cracked Actor," which showcases Mick Ronson's snarling guitar crunch better than anything else. But space is made for the title track and "Jean Genie," thankfully.

Unlike the other Bowie compilations, this is sequenced non-chronologically, which works to its advantage. A few too many slow songs are bunched together in the middle, but this is a minor quibble. With so many great songs that cover this period of Bowie's development so well, there's almost no need to pick up the actual studio albums save for Aladdin Sane and probably Ziggy Stardust, as this digs deep enough while hitting most of the high points of Bowie's early career.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


Disagree about only one song from the 2nd album ... Width of a Circle is one of the BEST Songs that Bowie wrote/performed ... in fact, the song is one of the pinnacle moments on his David Live Double LP Set. Take another listen ... I'd be interested if you would change your mind!

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