On the title track to David Bowie‘s 1976 classic Station to Station he repeatedly insists that “it’s not the side effects of the cocaine.” It was a bald-faced lie. The entire album can be seen as the side effects of cocaine, though rarely has the drug helped produce such brilliant results. It’s sidetracked many a career (see Oasis‘ Be Here Now, Elton John‘s entire mid-Eighties catalog and Pete Doherty for proof), but in Bowie’s case it somehow pushed him to new creative heights – even if he can barely remember a thing about making the album.
The peak of the brilliant madness was the 10-minute title track. Drawing equal influence from Krautrock and funk, the song was unlike anything else on the pop charts in 1976. (Two of the biggest hits of the year were ABBA‘s “Dancing Queen” and Chicago‘s “If You Leave Me Now.) “Golden Years” was the lone hit from the disc and many critics preferred the Berlin trilogy that followed, but many hardcore fans now point to Station to Station as the high point of Bowie’s career.
“Station to Station” was a regular part of the set list on Bowie’s 1978 world tour, which wrapped up in Tokyo on December 12th after 77 shows. An hour of the show was broadcast on Japanese television. Check out this amazing performance. It was Bowie’s final concert for five years.