6. David Bowie : 'Aladdin Sane' (1973)

The follow-up to his real breakthrough 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' this has to be one of the most compelling and essential of Bowie's releases.

Everybody talks about his golden period during the '70s - and I agree that he was at his most creative at that time. Certainly, I could have chosen anything from 'Hunky Dory' through to 'Lodger' or 'Scary Monsters'. The earliest '70s albums will always hold a special place for me, their timing completely coinciding with my own teens and raging hormones. The first Bowie album I bought was 'The Man Who Sold The World' which I still have a real soft spot for, but I wouldn't say it's as developed as some of the later releases. If I have to choose just one therefore, 'Aladdin Sane' would be the album that pinpointed when I was at my most impressionable. I would have been 14 i suppose, and I can remember proudly carrying the vinyl into school under my arm, feeling smug and superior to my other schoolmates:)

The album essentially follows the pattern of 'Ziggy' and is actually stranger than it's predecessor, buoyed by bizarre lounge flourishes and a handful of vaguely experimental songs. It is without doubt one of the finest forty-five minutes in rock. Dripping with the seedy sexuality of London's late '60s sexual revolution, Bowie abandons his futuristic obsessions to concentrate on the detached cool of New York. He described this album as 'Ziggy in America' in fact, and the rock 'n' roll is certainly more down to earth than its predecessor, with the notable exception of 'Lady Grinning Soul', Aladdin Sane' and 'Time', with their echoes of pre-war Berlin cabaret neatly prefiguring Bowie's own sojourn in that city a few years later. Mott the Hoople apparently turned down 'Drive In Saturday' as a follow up to 'All the Young Dudes', which was a shame perhaps as they would have come up with a good version, but Bowie's version doesn't disappoint. There's even a cover of a Stones song on here: 'Let's Spend The Night Together'.

Bowie himself is at an evocative peak, his vocals both voyeuristic and enticing. "Forget that I'm 50 'cause you just got paid" he croons, adopting his 'Cracked Actor' persona, while he lets his paranoia slip through during the clenched rhythms of 'Panic in Detroit'. Then you get the jazzy, dissonant sprawls of the more jazz/lounge songs, all of which manage to come over simultaneously camp and avant-garde.

Mick Ronson's searing guitar is beautiful trash, all Stonesy grind and Kinks-like riffing. Listen to 'Jean Genie', 'Cracked Actor' and 'Panic In Detroit' for the best of Ronson. And finally, pianist Mike Garson was an important addition to the Bowie house-band. His decadent jazz-influenced piano put to particularly effective use on the title track is one of the album's high points.

01. Television : 'Marquee Moon' (1977)
02. Lou Reed : 'Berlin' (1973)
03. Public Image Ltd. : 'MetalBox' (1979)
04. Talk Talk : 'Spirit Of Eden' (1988)
05. Steve Reich : 'Reich: The Desert Music' (1997)
06. David Bowie : 'Aladdin Sane' (1973)
07. Radiohead : 'OK Computer' (1997)
08. Massive Attack : 'Collected' (1998)
09. Morrissey : 'You Are The Quarry' (2004)
10. Eno : 'Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy' (1974)
11. The Beatles : 'The White album' (1968)
12. Górecki : 'Symphony #3, Op. 36' (1992)
13. Pink Floyd : 'Meddle' (1971)