Year 4, Day 4: David Bowie – Young Americans
- Young Americans
- Somebody Up There Likes Me
- Across the Universe
- Can You Hear Me?
About the Album
Young Americans is the ninth studio album by English glam rocker, David Bowie. The album was recorded in parts from August 1974, November-December 1974, and January 1975. The album was released on March 7th 1975 through RCA Records. The album peaked at number 9 on the United States Billboard 200 chart and is certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Thoughts on the Album
David Bowie has always been a huge influence on my taste in music. Of course, as an artist he was both irreplaceable. He was unique. That’s what makes his passing in January that much more painful.
Today’s album is his 1975 release, Young Americans. Fun fact about the album, majority of the album was recorded at (the now defunct) Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia. The album, much like the rest of the late Bowie’s catalog is unique. Young Americans is a movie in the direction of R&B and blue-eyed soul. You can tell just how much influence that the “Philadelphia Sound” had on Bowie. The album was produced in the same studio where Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff were creating the unique Philadelphia soul, but Bowie did not work with them.
The album is just another new foray in a new direction, for an artist who made a career out on a ceaseless search for new directions. While there is nothing like the apocalyptic visions found on Ziggy Stardust or Diamond Dogs, the album is just as unique and smart as anything Bowie recorded prior. The album contains parts from a then-unknown Luther Vandross.
The title track and opener, Young Americans, is a combination of then contemporary soul (thanks to the Vandross-led backup singers), some 1950s pop, and then up-and-coming rocker, Bruce Springsteen.
Tracks 2 through 5 are what make this album great. The combination of Win, Fascination, Right, and Somebody Up There Likes Me is the life and heartbeat of the album. I mean, at one point during Win, the backup singers, brass, and Bowie are all happening at once, like a cosmic singularity that delivers to you everything that music has to offer.
One of the highlights, is Fascination, co-written by Luther Vandross and features legendary sax player David Sanborn. The keys, sax, and rhythm guitars on Fascination are seemingly perfect as they compliment each other and Bowie’s vocals.
I understand why some David Bowie fans have hate for Young Americans… they fell in love with the glitz and glam of previous work. But Bowie’s foray into Philly Soul is an excellent number. Opening with Young Americans and the four track sequence of Win, Fascination, Right, and Somebody Up There Likes Me will win you over.