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Readers’ Poll: The Best David Bowie Albums

Your selections include ‘Young Americans,’ ‘Heroes’ and ‘Station to Station’

David Bowie

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This is hardly a revelatory statement, but David Bowie had a very good 1970s. Fueled by a heroic intake of drugs, the man worked like a machine and churned out masterpiece after masterpiece, pausing only to tour, produce amazing albums for other people and to ingest yet more drugs. This didn't do much for his physical or mental health (at one point he thought his TV was talking to him), but it did produce some of the greatest albums in rock history. We asked our readers to vote on their favorite Bowie albums, and the top 10 were all released between 1970 and 1980. Only Lodger failed to make the cut. Click through to see the results. 

Courtesy RCA

2. ‘Hunky Dory’

David Bowie began writing the music on Hunky Dory on his first visit to America in 1971. "The whole Hunky Dory album reflected my newfound enthusiasm for this new continent that had been opened up to me," Bowie said in 1999. "That was the first time a real outside situation affected me so 100 percent that it changed my way of writing and the way I look at things."

Traveling by bus from Washington, D.C., to California, Bowie fell in love with the country and was inspired to pen tributes to some of its most iconic artists ("Andy Warhol," "Song for Bob Dylan" and the Lou Reed tribute "Queen Bitch"). Inspired by folk-rock acts that were dominating the charts, Bowie began composing pretty acoustic tunes with surreal lyrics like "Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow," from "Life on Mars?" "When we were rehearsing songs for Hunky Dory, David was playing by himself at folk clubs in London to, like, 50 people," says Hunky Dory bassist Trevor Bolder, who also played on Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane. "He had long hair and looked like a folkie."

On "Changes," which kicks off the album, Bowie offers a challenge to pop's reigning stars, singing, "Look out, you rock & rollers." "I guess it was more being sort of arrogant," Bowie said in 2002. "It's sort of baiting an audience, saying, 'Look, I'm going to be so fast you're not going to keep up with me.'" The album found a small audience, but flew up the charts later that year after the huge success of the follow-up, Ziggy Stardust

Courtesy RCA

1. ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’

The world has just five years left and it seems like there is no hope, but suddenly an alien rock star named Ziggy Stardust enters the body of a man and offers us salvation in our dying days. Sadly, he "took it all too far" and wound up killing himself in a "Rock and Roll Suicide." It's a story that virtually nobody has ever bothered to follow, but that hardly matters. The songs on Ziggy Stardust represent the high point of the entire glam movement. Also, Bowie was reborn onstage as Ziggy Stardust, providing a much-needed rock star in an otherwise bleak music landscape. Even better, parents hated him. Bowie has had bigger hits and more acclaimed albums, but never in his career did he seem quite as important or refreshing. This is the Bowie album that will be in the history books. 

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