Uncut Magazine: The Madness of The Thin White Duke

“Even at the remove of nearly 35 years, it’s hard to imagine Station to Station as an album that would solve problems for David Bowie. Rather, this is a work of uncomfortable contradictions: it contains American crooning and European drone, songs of devotion and occult practice, of devoted love, and cold betrayal. It throws down its gauntlet with white noise, and doesn’t get noticeably less complex from there. “It captures the spiritual malaise of the decade,” Allan Jones wrote in Melody Maker in 1976, a view that’s still difficult to contradict” (Uncut Magazine, July 2010).

I’ve covered my infatuation with David Bowie’s Thin White Duke era in previous blog posts, but I have to yet again devote another entry to The Duke in light of Uncut Magazines July Issue. The cover story headline reads: “David Bowie, Station to Station: The Madness of The Thin White Duke.” What more could you want?

Journalist John Robinson crafts an incredible article that dives into Los Angeles circa 1975, and follows a paranoid Bowie as he attempts to reinvent himself amongst a sea of failed art projects and mountains of cocaine, all the while recording his 1976 masterpiece, Station to Station. The article contains incredibly rare photographs of Bowie from this time period such as outtakes from the Steve Schapiro publicity shoot. It also contains new interviews with the people closest to Bowie during this reclusive period of his life. The article also includes a track-by-track breakdown of Station to Station by Bowie’s backing band, and they explain how each track came to fruition and the process they went through to record each song. It also highlights some of Bowie’s failed projects from this time period:

“Bowies projects from 1975-76 That Didn’t Quite Materialize”

BOWIE: A long Ken Russell movie, in which Bowie plays himself, written by William Burroughs. “The script is meaningless,” Bowie tells The Sunday Times, “but the costumes are nice…”

NORMAN ROCKWELL COVER ART FOR YOUNG AMERICANS: Bowie attempts to hire Rockwell, then 82, to paint the Young Americans sleeve art. Scheduling proves a problem. “I called his wife and she said, ‘Sorry, Norman needs six months to finish a painting,” Bowie tells Playboy.

SCREENPLAY I: “I’ve written nine screenplays,” Bowie tells The Sunday Times in 1975. The first will star Terence Stamp, who will “do something intellectual with Pasolini.”

SCREENPLAY II: “Now I’m a film director,” Bowie tells The Sunday Times magazine after a long night out. The first movie Bowie plans to direct will star himself and Iggy Pop. “And Joan Stanton,” Bowie tells NME. “I haven’t even got a title for it yet, but it’s very violent and depressing.
”

THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH SOUNDTRACK: “I’m doing it with friend, Paul Buckmaster,” Bowie tells a Soul Train audience. After several sessions and “shameful” drug taking, nothing releasable emerges. (Uncut Magazine July 2010).

For fans of Bowie, specifically those intrigued by The Thin White Duke era, I highly recommend picking up the July issue of Uncut. I can’t find the article online as of yet, so if you want to check it out you may have to run out to your closest Borders or Barnes and Nobles. In any case, it’s worth having in hard copy format. It also comes with a compilation disc featuring 14 tracks from what Uncut refers to as “The New Heroes of Art Rock.” It includes songs by Caribou, Panda Bear, Phoenix, Field Music, and many more.

E.

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