A Look Back At David Bowie’s First Album

Sad news today in the world of rock and roll: David Bowie has died at the age of 69 from a long battle with cancer. The news was announced on his social media accounts on Sunday night, just days after the star celebrated his 69th birthday and released his newest album Blackstar to the world. Llistening to David Bowie’s latest album in the wake of his death makes me want to revisit all of his albums that have come before. If I could today, I would sit in a dark room and listen to all of his albums on repeat until I stopped feeling all the feels I’m feeling about this legendary musician’s death. An icon of art and rock and roll, David Bowie was an absolute legend. But even legends have to start somewhere. Which is why I would start my musical journal with David Bowie’s first album: David Bowie. It is way different than the sound and style of the David Bowie the world knew and loved.

All artists have to start somewhere, and Bowie, too, had his days of pushing past his musical influences to find his own style that, one day, future artists would imitate in droves. Because, before David Bowie was David Bowie, he was a guy who released a self-titled album that sounded like some strange mix of The Beatles’ “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and Elvis. That’s right: Before David Bowie was David Bowie — in all of his labyrinth-loving, legging-ed glory — David Bowie was a musician who got a little lost in all of those mid-century rock and rock trappings.

And his first album definitely shows it. “Rubber Band” and “Love You Till Tuesday” shows this in-between phase that Bowie was in the most. Just listen to them. You can hear the parts of the songs that tend toward the surreal, but they are both still very much grounded in the reality of pop rock.

And the other songs on this early album suffer the same fate. (Not that being written and performed by David Bowie is a bad fate for any song to have.) Songs like “Uncle Arthur,” “Sell Me a Coat,” and “We Are Hungry Men” show seedlings of what would become Bowie’s signature style, but are still huge departures from the Bowie sound his fans went crazy for.

As much as early critics might consider this first album a bit of warm up for David Bowie’s distinct style that would come just a few years later in his illustrious career, it’s nice to revisit his first album and see where this legend got his start. Even if it is a huge departure from his later style, who wouldn’t want to experience a bit of Baby Bowie, especially with the staggeringly sad news that all of his fans are grappling with on Monday?