BOWIE GOLDEN YEARS

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Station To Station page

Released January 23, 1976

RCA APL1 1327
Chart peak UK 5 US 3

Side one
Station To Station 10:14
Golden Years 4:00
Word On A Wing 6:03

Side two
TVC 15 5:33
Stay 6:15
Wild Is The Wind (Washington-Tiomkin) 6:02

Produced by David Bowie and Harry Maslin
Recorded at Cherokee Studios, 751 North Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles,
September 21 – early December 1975
Mixed at the Hit Factory, New York, November 1975
Mastered at Allen Zentz Mastering, Hollywood

David Bowie (vocals, guitars, tenor and alto saxophone, Moog and mellotron)
Carlos Alomar (guitar)
Roy Bittan (piano)
Dennis Davis (drums)
Earl Slick (guitar)
George Murray (bass)
Warren Peace (backing vocals)

Selected reissues

1985 RCA CD

1991 Rykodisc/EMI CD (remastered with bonus tracks)
Word On A Wing live Nassau Coliseum 6:10
Stay live Nassau Coliseum 7:24

1999 EMI CD (remastered)

2007 Toshiba EMI mini LP replica CD

2010 EMI Deluxe Edition (remastered with bonus discs)
2CD Live Nassau Coliseum '76

2010 EMI Super Deluxe Edition (remastered with bonus discs)
2CD Live Nassau Coliseum '76
DVD Station To Station 5.1 Surround Sound
CD of singles versions
CD Station To Station (1985 RCA CD master)
LP Station To Station
2LP Live Nassau Coliseum '76

Production

Soon after returning from the three month The Man Who Fell To Earth shoot, Bowie began work on the new album with Harry Maslin – an obvious choice since he had worked on Young Americans, including Fame which was now topping the American charts. For a few days at Sound Instrumental Rentals Studios, Bowie and the band worked on songs from fragments he’d written – Word On A Wing and TVC 15 (written in New Mexico) and Golden Years.

Earl Slick (1976): He had one or two songs written but they were changed so drastically that you wouldn't know them from the first time anyway, so he basically wrote everything in the studio. [Richard Cromelin. ‘The Return Of The Thin White Duke’ (Circus, 2 March 1976)]

Harry Maslin (1976): There was no specific sound in mind. I don't think he had any specific direction as far as whether it should be R&B, or more English-sounding, or more commercial or less commercial. I think he went out more to make a record this time than to worry about what it was going to turn out to be. [Richard Cromelin. ‘The Return Of The Thin White Duke’ (Circus, 2 March 1976)]

Moving recording to Cherokee on North Fairfax Avenue, one of the first tracks they tackled was TVC 15. Bowie had let go of Mike Garson – the last musician of the Ziggy era – and had called up British pianist Roy Young, whom he’d first met on the 1972 UK tour, to invite him to play on the sessions. Young was held up by visa problems and couldn't make the sessions, but they kept in touch and Bowie was able to secure his services the following year for Low.

Earl Slick mentioned Springsteen's band had just checked into his hotel and suggested their pianist Roy Bittan, with whom he had played on an obscure Tracks album, Even A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day (1972).

As Cherokee boasted a 24-track desk, Bowie and Maslin had the luxury of experimentation, which led to long sessions, trying every permutation of every idea.

Bowie (1993): I would work at songs for hours and hours and days and days and then realise after a few days that I had done absolutely nothing … I hadn’t got past four bars. [Tony Parsons. ‘Bowie by Bowie’ (Arena, May/June 1993)]

Harry Maslin (1976): It was rigorous. We tried to keep it on a private basis. Not too many people in there – usually no one. We started at 10 or 11 at night and went to anywhere from eight in the morning to whatever, 36 hours later. David knows exactly what he wants, it's just a matter of sitting there and doing it until it's done. [Richard Cromelin. ‘The return of the Thin White Duke’ (Circus, 2 March 1976)]

Earl Slick (2010): Everything else around you pretty much disappeared – your personal life, everything. David's good at creating that. You're in there and that's what you're doing, period. We went into the void. [John Robinson. ‘Run for the shadows’ (Uncut, July 2010)]

Harry Maslin (2010): Once after doing an all-nighter at Cherokee, they essentially threw us out in the morning as they had another session booked. I called Record Plant and we went over to continue to record. That was the session when David and I both played saxophone on TVC 15.

[Cameron Crowe. ‘Station To Station Super Deluxe Edition’ (EMI, 2010)]

Carlos Alomar (2010): Bowie threw us into the deep end. He was telling us that we could do whatever we wanted. “Make the sound of a train? We've got all the time you need…” [John Robinson. ‘Run for the shadows’ (Uncut, July 2010)]

Bowie (1997): The Station To Station track itself is very much concerned with the stations of the cross, All the references within the piece are to do with the Kabbalah. It's the nearest album to a magick treatise that I've written. I've never read a review that really sussed it. It's an extremely dark album. Miserable time to live through, I must say. [David Cavanagh. ‘Changes Fifty Bowie’ (Q 125, February 1997)]

Earl Slick (2010): It started out with David and me in the studio. We had a couple of Marshall stacks and we were just feeding back. [John Robinson. ‘Run for the shadows’ (Uncut, July 2010)]

Carlos Alomar (2010): We had six amps chained one to another, each with a different effect, with one microphone in front of them to see what it would sound like. [John Robinson. ‘Run for the shadows’ (Uncut, July 2010)]

Earl Slick (1976): We both played all the way through the song, and then Harry took part of David's and part of mine and stuck them all together. [Richard Cromelin. ‘The return of the Thin White Duke’ (Circus, 2 March 1976)]

Earl Slick (2010): On Golden Years there was no riff. I came up with something I stole from a 1960s song called Funky Broadway [by Dyke and the Blazers in 1967, later a hit for Wilson Pickett]. I think it might have come from there. [John Robinson. ‘Run for the shadows’ (Uncut, July 2010)]

Geoff MacCormack (2007): Unfortunately David lost his voice halfway through doing the backing vocals. He's an incredible singer – his pitch and timing are exceptional – so the parts, which were difficult for him, were murder for me. [MacCormack, Geoff. Station To Station: Travels With Bowie 1973-76 (Genesis Publications, 2007)]

Bowie (1976): Word On A Wing I wrote when I felt very much at peace with the world. I had established my own environment with my own people for the first time. I wrote the whole thing as a hymn. What better way can a man give thanks for achieving something that he had dreamed of achieving, than doing it with a hymn? [Robert Hilburn. ‘Bowie: Now I'm A Businessman’ (Melody Maker, 28 February 1976)]

Harry Maslin (1976): TVC 15 is about a television that ate his girlfriend. David is very interested in electronics, he's very interested in video, and that's supposed to be the epitome of where it could go. A hologramic television set with anything you could fit into a television. [Richard Cromelin. ‘The return of the Thin White Duke’ (Circus, 2 March 1976)]

Earl Slick (2006): Stay was originally going to be a remake of John I'm Only Dancing, if my memory is any good. The session was very quick as the band was tight! I'd however put some time into the guitar solo. I guess it paid off. [Earl Slick interview (Bowie Zone, 1 September 2006)]

Earl Slick (1976): It wasn't worked out in advance. I was very spaced out that night. It was done about five in the morning. I'd been waiting around four hours, drinking a lot of beer. [Richard Cromelin. ‘The return of the Thin White Duke’ (Circus, 2 March 1976)]

Ron Wood and Bobby Womack dropped in on the sessions for a jam with Murray, Davis, Bittan and Bowie on sax, which Harry Maslin recorded and MacCormack photographed.

Thursday 25 September

Bowie recorded seven vocal takes of Wild Is The Wind, but it was the first that ended up on the record.

Saturday 27 September

Golden Years vocal track

Harry Maslin (2011): Knowing that it might be a challenging vocal, David sat next to me and said: ‘Remember, I’m not really a vocalist, I’m more of a songwriter… be patient with me.’ The reason why this sticks out in my mind is because he proceeded to go into the studio and nail the vocal in one take… blowing my mind as to how proficient he truly was. [Thomas Jerome Seabrook. ‘White Shirt Black Noise’ (Record Collector, February 2011)]

artwork

By December 1975 production of the album was complete with records pressed and the covers printed.

Then Bowie changed his mind when Roy Young showed him the Dr Feelgood album Down By The Jetty.

Impressed by the minimalism and monochrome, Bowie had Steve Schapiro’s production still from The Man Who Fell To Earth cropped to a 35mm frame in black and white, emphasising the red typography.

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Bowie Golden Years v1.0 created and designed by Roger Griffin 2000
Bowie Golden Years v2.0 2017-2020

Photographs and texts have been credited wherever possible

this page updated October 20, 2020