Found this article, written by F50!! and posted at “Talk Amongst Yourselves” offers a ranking for all 24 of David Bowie’s albums (minus collaborations or soundtracks) from best to what he considers the worst:
As with any sort of ranking of this kind, the judgment is in the eye of the beholder. For example, I wouldn’t agree with his ranking of Reality, Hours, Earthling, and Young Americans as being quite as low as he states they are.
Frankly, I feel David Bowie (Mr. Bowie’s first album) is probably the least of the works he has released. Let’s face it, with David Bowie we were dealing an album that was released when Mr. Bowie was an amateur without a solid direction.
Still, there are a couple of interesting songs to be found in his very early archives, including this one, also mentioned by the author of this article…
I would then put Space Oddity, Mr. Bowie’s second full album, as the next on the list. For certain there are a couple of very good songs to be found here, including the all time classic which the album was named after and The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud, which Mr. Bowie noted in an interview was the first song which he considered a proper “David Bowie” song…
From there I’d go with Never Let Me Down, a very disappointing album that nonetheless also featured some good songs but…well, it just felt like Mr. Bowie was alternately trying too hard and not hard enough to create another “hit” album. A big disappointment.
From there, its up to everyone’s own taste, IMHO, where each album lies. But of the albums released (and going by the list provided here, eliminating soundtracks and collaborations), what would be my top 5 David Bowie albums?
For as big a fan as myself, this is not an easy task.
But here goes (and they are presented in order of release and not preference. This list, by the way, reflects where my thought process is at the moment. A year from now, who knows?).
Regardless, you can’t lose, IMHO, with any of these five albums:
The Man Who Sold The World: I consider this the first “real” David Bowie album from start to finish. A dark, macabre work that came ages before, yet featured elements which would appear in heavy metal, goth, etc. etc. work to come years later. By now most people know the song which gave the album its title and it is one of David Bowie’s best. But also check out The Width of a Circle or Supermen or Saviour Machine, etc. A very strong album.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars: Of all the albums David Bowie made, this is the one everyone will include on his top 5 release list and, further, likely put it at #1. Who am I to argue? Ziggy Stardust is an incredibly ambitious yet very “tight” album. It is one of the earliest concept albums ever created and involves a decaying, dying earth that is visited by an alien rock God named Ziggy Stardust. A terrific album with terrific songs from start to end. (By the way, the song All The Young Dudes, written by David Bowie but given to Mott the Hoople to record was originally intended to be a part of this album and fits on it very nicely. I suspect it would have fit in right after the album’s first song, Five Years. A David Bowie version of the song is available as well).
Aladdin Sane: Coming hot off the heels of Ziggy Stardust was that album’s follow-up/companion Aladdin Sane. Some have called the album “Ziggy Stardust comes to America” and they’re not far off the mark. While not quite as good as Ziggy Stardust, this album remains one of my all time favorites. I absolutely love Panic In Detroit, Drive In Saturday, Aladdin Sane, and the chilling Lady Grinning Soul.
Scary Monsters (And SuperCreeps): I have to admit, though unintended, the last two albums in this list (this one and the next) could easily be substituted by any number of other great Bowie works. For example, I’ve not mentioned at all his wonderful Berlin Trilogy of Low, Heroes, and Lodger? Thought I know there are those who don’t like it that much, I absolutely love the admittedly more shallow/hit filled Let’s Dance. And what of Station to Station and Young Americans? And Hunky Dory and Diamond Dogs! How could they not fall somewhere on this list as well?! And that great final album, Blackstar! Where is it?! Well, as I said, this is my list and while those I just mentioned are terrific albums, they fall just a hair below this and the next album on my top 5 list. Scary Monsters is, like David Bowie’s best albums, ambitious in scope and features many different -and at times very wild- music choices. This is an album that is great from start to finish though I would point out the underrated Teenage Wildlife for special attention. Great stuff.
1 Outside: When this album was originally released in 1995, I was shocked by how much the critics hated it. In fact, there were very few (if any) I could find that actually liked the album. It was a weird experience because for me the album was nothing short of amazing and featured some incredibly strong tracks (I Have Not Been To Oxford Town, Thru These Architect Eyes, I’m Deranged, Heart’s Filthy Lesson, Strangers When We Meet, etc.) and a bizarre, almost Blade Runner/William Gibson-like sci-fi concept involving the end of the century. Over the years, it appears there has been a re-evaluation of this album and many people now seem to have recognized the album’s quality versus when it was first released.
Look, I’ll be blunt here: I can sorta understand where the original criticism came from. 1. Outside is a very overstuffed work. It features a plethora of songs and styles and there are oddball “segues” between many of the songs wherein a story is told by David Bowie using distorted voices. Yes, I can see where some might have felt this was all a little too much.
But that’s what makes the album so damn good! 1. Outside is an immersive experience and, if you’re willing to give it a try and roll with it, I promise you will be amazed. A great, great work.
So there you have it, my all time favorite five David Bowie albums. Your mileage, as they say, might vary.