The Aural Retentive’s Guide To David Bowie’s Studio Albums (with Extras)

Here is an actual text exchange with my friend Josh.

Of course that got me thinking about how to actually accomplish this.

I remember one day when a friend of mine made me sit down and listen to Hendrix doing The Star Spangled Banner from Woodstock. I didn’t care for it then, probably because he wanted me to so bad. Seemed gimmicky to me and a lot of noise. Years later I would come to LOVE Hendrix and realize how great he did everything in that Woodstock show, particularly The Star Spangled Banner, but I had to get there on my own.

So how to gently offer up all of David Bowie’s studio work? I definitely sense that there would be bad places to start if you just randomly picked.

But at the same time, the Hendrix situation looms large in my psyche.

The only solution I could come up with was a list of all the albums and a ranking of them by me with notes and let him wade in himself.

I got the list of studio albums from Wiki:

but that even posed issues. Do you include Tin Machine? What about soundtracks? Live albums? Compilations? I discovered that “The Buddha Of Suburbia” was classified as a Soundtrack though it really wasn’t and that there were some I wanted to include that were not considered studio albums. So the process of just using studio albums was imperfect, but in the end, seemed most appropriate.

Then I ranked them on a 1 -3 scale, gave them a time grouping and added some notes. The whole process took a while as I debated the rankings. I tried to ride the line between what I personally thought the ranking should be and what a “new to Bowie” (though who really is?) listener might warm to first.

I also decided I must include some essential non-studio items that I would add to an “Extras” folder. Things like some of the live albums, ChangesOne (where I recommend he start), Sound And Vision I, II, and III, and also Bowie doing Peter and The Wolf that he could share with Emerson.

So… for better or worse, here is my Bowie list. I confess that there are portions of this list that may be compromised by the time and place that I first heard these albums, and if done again in 10 years may be ranked differently.

Bowie Albums Listening Guide by The Aural Retentive:


This includes the Extras that I recommend. Remember, this is for the casual listener. Otherwise I would have included a lot of other things, like “The Absolute Beginners” EP, the Live Aid performance, “Labyrinth” Soundtrack?…

I’m delivering this to Josh on Monday. Spoiler alert Josh if you’re reading this.

Is it some sort of sacrilege if I deliver it on a Paul Stanley flash drive?

Star Child meets Star Man?

Good luck Josh. Take it slow with an open mind and this Paul Stanley flash drive could ch ch-ch-change you forever.

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