A few months ago I did a “Music Milestone” piece for The Eagles “Their Greatest Hits: 1971-1975” album and while it was not the typical type of milestone item that I would normally reflect on, the album was of a very special nature to me and their founding guitarist Glen Frey had just passed away the previous month. It seemed “right” based on the timing to me and that brings me to this latest Music Milestone which raises a glass to the fact that David Bowie’s “ChangesOneBowie” Greatest Hits LP is officially forty years old today. The world lost the great David Bowie very early in 2016 and with his loss still resonating profoundly in a lot of us, I wanted to add this album anniversary to our narratives.
This album would be Bowie’s first ever hits collection and it spanned about nine of his albums offering up tracks from his earliest recordings in 1969 up until 1976. I’ve left the names of the actual albums noted on the individual tracks for better reference if you were curious. I’ve owned this album for many, many years now but don’t think that I purchased it during its actual release year since I was not yet at the album buying age. That was coming soon enough based on my vintage but I was not there yet. I knew all of the tunes of course since I would listen to my parent’s stereo and focus on the Classic Rock stations of the day. WNEW FM and WPLJ FM were among my favorites back in the day. You would hear no less than three or four Bowie tracks across the regular rotation and of course these songs are resident on this first compilation. Let’s take a look at the individual tracks on the release and then we can talk about them a little more afterward.
1. Space Oddity (from Space Oddity)
2. John, I’m Only Dancing (Sax version)
3. Changes (from Hunky Dory)
4. Ziggy Stardust (from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars)
5. Suffragette City (from Ziggy Stardust)
6. The Jean Genie (from Aladdin Sane)
7. Diamond Dogs (from Diamond Dogs)
8. Rebel Rebel (from Diamond Dogs)
9. Young Americans (from Young Americans)
10. Fame (from Young Americans)
11. Golden Years (from Station to Station)
So what songs are my favorites from this one? Well, I’d have to say that pretty much all of them are with the exception being “John, I’m Only Dancing” since I was never really crazy about the song. I’m not sure why exactly and I mean I appreciate it more so many years later but as far as this album went I would generally skip the tune which had to be done by lifting the needle off the album and moving it further down the disk on the turntable. That’s much more arduous a process than today’s pressing of an icon on one’s mobile device or remote control. The absolute favorites fall to the seminal “Space Oddity”, “Ziggy Stardust” and “Changes” if I had to select three for you. The players on this album reads like a Who’s Who in Rock and Roll and though I am not listing every single one of them, you could find performances by John Lennon, Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Earl Slick and David Sanborn across these tracks. As with all of my music milestones, these notes are more about my personal experience with the release as the deep historical stuff can be easily read on the albums Wikipedia entry. One of the things I also remember about this album was its overall length which is just over forty-four minutes. This allowed me to copy the entire album to one of those Maxell 90 minute cassettes and have a completely blank other side. For those who had a Boom Box that would flip the direction of playing you could have the album in constant play if you did the same thing to the “B:” side of said tape. While this is probably viewed as an RIAA faux pas nowadays, everyone that owned LP’s would dissect and copy their favorite cuts to audio tape to have for the Boom Box or car stereo if you were lucky enough to have one that allowed for such musical enjoyment.
It should be notes that this release was changed when Rykodisc was handling the catalog and instead of issuing “ChangesOneBowie” and its second chapter of “ChangesTwoBowie”, a double CD release entitled “ChangesBowie” would be available for those who wished to own the pair. I still have my copy of the album which you see in this narrative and as I pen this toast for you to read I have learned that a remastered CD and Vinyl edition are currently available on Rhino Records if you’ve an interest in adding them to your collection. What I loved about the compilation was its overall scope of diversity in his styles and how it showed us just how creative Bowie had been over a span of time and yet how all of the tunes seem to work so fluidly together. I doubt that music will ever have another individual quite like him but with that said it’s a certainty that his dynamic influences will keep inspiring generation after generation. Thank you David Bowie for giving your fans such a compilation of your work and congratulations on its fortieth anniversary. You are still greatly missed and should you wish to read the “In Memorium” post click HERE and to see the display that fans left at his residence click HERE. If you’ve ever owned a copy of this classic LP and want to add your thoughts to the mix please do so in the comments section below.