David Bowie - Low (1977)
This is my favourite album of all time. I bought my first copy, on tape, in 1985. I loved it, and I still love it to this day. It was the first Bowie album I bought after I'd got Changes One, so it still holds a very special place in my heart. Maybe Heroes is on the whole a superior package... maybe Ziggy Stardust is more seminal and era-defining... but Low remains the best for me. It took me years to understand the terrible pun: low + pic of Bowie's profile = low profile! But awful puns aside, it's a great, great album. Side A is the best side of any record in rock history, alongside side B of Abbey Road and very few others. Every track is fantastic. Side B, with its instrumental electronic pieces conceived with Brian Eno, is phenomenal too, it took me a while to appreciate it fully though (would it have been normal to appreciate it as a little kid?).
I love the sounds on this record, the fierce drums, the insistent bass-lines, etc. It still sounds fresh today. Of course to me it brings back memories of my youth, but I can also appreciate it as a masterpiece in itself. Stand-out tracks are plenty, from the perfect pop rush of opening salvo Speed Of Life, through the magnificent 1:51 minutes of Breaking Glass, to the wistful, swathing, completely gorgeous Always Crashing In The Same Car, etc etc. Every track is a gem, really. Lyrically, the story goes that Bowie was in Berlin (although it was partially recorded in the French countryside!) recovering from L.A. craziness and drugs, was depressed and didn't have much to say - hence the few words. And not exactly uplifting words at that! But this album really creates a special atmosphere, not just one of melancholia. It goes beyond. It is a superior piece of work, and completely awe-inspiring. Top class stuff.