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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Young Americans

David Bowie

1975

Buy At Rough Trade
Young Americans
Album Summary

Young Americans is the ninth studio album by English musician David Bowie, released on 7 March 1975 through RCA Records. The album marked a departure from the glam rock style of Bowie's previous albums, showcasing his interest in soul and R&B. Commentators have described the record as blue-eyed soul, although Bowie himself labelled the album's sound "plastic soul". Initial recording sessions took place following the first leg of his Diamond Dogs Tour in August 1974 at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia with producer Tony Visconti and a variety of musicians, including guitarist Carlos Alomar, who would become one of Bowie's most frequent collaborators. Backing vocalists included singer Ava Cherry, Alomar's wife Robin Clark and then-unknown singer Luther Vandross. After the initial sessions, the tour continued, with the setlist and design changed due to the influence of the new material recorded. This portion of the tour has been labeled the Soul tour. At the end of the tour, sessions continued at the Record Plant in New York City. After becoming friends with former Beatle John Lennon, the two collaborated on a session in January 1975 at Electric Lady Studios, with Harry Maslin producing. With Alomar, they recorded "Fame" and a cover of Lennon's Beatles song "Across the Universe". Throughout the sessions, many outtakes were recorded and the record went through numerous working titles. The cover artwork is a back-lit photograph of Bowie taken by Eric Stephen Jacobs. Upon its release, Young Americans was very successful in the US, reaching the top 10 on the Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart, with the single "Fame" becoming Bowie's first number one hit. However, it received mixed reviews from music critics and continues to receive mixed reviews. Bowie himself had mixed feelings about the album throughout his lifetime. Nevertheless, Bowie biographers have considered it one of his most influential records, mainly noting him as among the first white musicians of the era to overtly engage with black musical styles. The album has since been reissued multiple times and was remastered in 2016 as part of the Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976) box set.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.64

Votes

12637
Genres
Rock

Reviews

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Sun Oct 17 2021
2

I can't really blame Bowie for being inspired by late 60s and early 70s soul music, but Young Americans is soul the way that the Bee Gee's Main Course is soul or 3 Dog Night is soul, that is, not so much. Only Fame is genuinely funky. I remember feeling a bit queasy when the other hit on the album, Young Americans, used to come on the radio. I was uncomfortable with how much fuss people made about it when much better real soul music came and went in a matter of weeks. But ain't that always the way it is? And come to think about it, part of what bothers me so much about the 1001 list is how colonialist it is, how small-minded, how parochial, giving an inordinate amount of space to anything white, male or anglophile and when they do include music which isn't, more often than not, it's a compromised, bastardized token example. Anyway, enough of my bitching. The rest of the album, with the exception of Fame, is just as inconsequential as the title cut. I will say that the session players acquit themselves quite well, and the album is beautifully recorded. I mean, the album isn't actively unpleasant to listen to, but this is a pretty shallow take on soul. Still, the only outright stinker is the out-of-place Beatles cover Across the Universe. I know it's fashionable to venerate Bowie these days, but not everything he did was wonderful, e.g. the Thin White Puke years. I'm just glad Bowie got Young Americans out of his system and went on to make the Berlin trilogy.

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Thu Jul 15 2021
5

Genius, Become successful doing glam rock. Then completely change the style and genre. And knock it out the park again. Album flows magnificently. Songs are all on point. Bowie did this in 1975 influenced by funk. Everyone else followed in the 80s. Peerless 5/5

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Fri Nov 20 2020
4

Not my favorite from him but it’s hard to go wrong with Bowie

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Wed Apr 27 2022
2

IS it me or is Bowie just overrated?

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Thu Sep 30 2021
5

👨🏻‍🎤🤩🎸⭐️

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Tue Aug 24 2021
5

An album not talked too much about, though I believe it was his best. Love this album and wish even more people would listen to it.

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Tue Jan 25 2022
3

I wish the rest of the songs on this album lived up to Fame, which is an unbelievably amazing song. I felt like Bowie was trying a style that didn't really fit as well with his voice...I liked it but didn't love it.

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Tue Jan 25 2022
3

Wow. David Bowie really was decades ahead of his time. And several years behind. The title track - Young Americans - starts off sounding exactly like the opening theme of a mid-90s sitcom. The rest of the album is, as Bowie described it himself - a facsimile of soul. He does well for a white boy, but I can't help but think that he's making a gesture at the genre rather than actually contributing to it or bringing the music foward. I suspect this album is considered influential because it is a change of direction from an established artist, shining a light on music that hadn't reached white suburbanites before - at least not in a way that could have been considered acceptable at the time. Knowing Bowie and his understanding and love of music, I think this is very much a case of cultural appreciation rather that appropriation, but that being said, Bowie cannot make (and he's admitted this himself with the definition of "plastic soul") this music his own. A famous white boy putting his money and influence into expanding the listenership of the genre is commendable. I think this - today - might not fly the way it did 45 years ago. It is a good album, and a paradigm shift for Bowie, giving a shot in the arm to soul, but ultimately being derivative in a direction that wasn't mastered.

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Fri Nov 20 2020
5

Some of his classics and a very Bowie Beatles cover is on this album. He’s a legend for a reason

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Sat Jun 19 2021
5

Bowie does it again. A masterpiece and an ESSENTIAL soul reinvention in his discography. "Fame" is a PERFECT song.

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Wed Dec 08 2021
5

The Thin White Duke at his best, post Heroin, pre Berlin and cleaning up his act this is a special album. His experiment with white boy soul and with the backing of Carlos Alomar on guitar and the wonderful Luther Vandross on backing vocals, highlights here The Eponymous "Young Americans" and of course his Lost Weekend output "Fame" co written by John Lennon. You can hear the influence of Gamble & Huff and TSOP throughout the album, the rock chameleon doing what he did the best. Love the whole thing and deservedly on the list in my opinion.

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Thu Dec 23 2021
5

“It remains a beloved bright spot in a discography with more than its share."

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Wed Jan 13 2021
4

I've never listened much to David Bowie outside of his major hits, but I was captivated by the very first song; excited to hear the rest of it! Win - Absolutely loved. Great song. Fascination - was aight. Would listen to again Right - was groovy! Loved it. Somebody up There Likes Me, the chords used here are really great. Head bopper for sure. Can You Hear Me Across The Universe cover?! Featuring John Lennon on guitar and back-up vocals? A solid take! Enjoyed. ^^Reflecting on his contribution, Lennon later said: "I thought, great, because I'd never done a good version of that song myself. It's one of my favourite songs, but I didn't like my version of it." Bowie concurred, calling the Beatles' original version "very watery" and wanting to "hammer the hell out of it." - Wikipedia Can You Hear Me - Reminded me of Jimi Hendrix. Good track. Fame - Classic Bowie track I've listened to before, sounds a bit different from the rest of the album tonally, but a fine addition to end the album on. This album just made me a David Bowie fan. Great listening experience all around. Definitely coming back to this.

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Sun Feb 19 2023
3

[Editorial Note: For this installment, I have enlisted ChatGPT to write the review. Primarily because I have love for much of Bowie’s music, but I’ve always been kind of indifferent to this record. It just doesn’t work for me in the same way that most of his other 70’s work does, even if there are few fantastic songs - like Young Americans, Fascination and Fame. So, I figured if anyone would find humor in a light-hearted, shit-talking review crafted by AI, David Bowie would probably be near the top of the list. I provided ChatGPT with a simple prompt: “write a funny review of David Bowie’s Young Americans album”. The first take wasn’t very humorous, so I provided a second prompt: “make it funnier and less reverent”. What you’ll read below is its response] Alright, buckle up, because this review is gonna be more sarcastic and less reverent than a cult meeting for David Bowie fans. So, "Young Americans." It's like David Bowie decided to go on a soul-searching trip to America, and came back with an album full of soul music. It's like the guy couldn't make up his mind whether he wanted to be Ziggy Stardust or James Brown, so he decided to be both. And let's talk about the album cover for a second. Bowie looks like he's trying to seduce you with his soulful gaze, while also wearing a shirt that looks like it was made out of an old couch from the '70s. But hey, at least he's got that perfectly coiffed hair going for him. But seriously, the sax solos on this album are off the charts. It's like Bowie decided to hire a whole band of saxophonists and just let them loose on the album. And the lyrics? Well, let's just say that if you're looking for deep, meaningful poetry, you might want to look somewhere else. But if you're looking for lines like "Do you remember your President Nixon?" and "Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?", then this album has got you covered. Overall, "Young Americans" is like a weird mix of Bowie's classic sound and a bunch of soul and funk music thrown in for good measure. It's like he was trying to reinvent himself yet again, but ended up sounding like a confused alien trying to fit in with the cool kids. But hey, at least he's got that sexy saxophone to fall back on.

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Tue Aug 08 2023
3

First and last songs outstanding. Album is very consistent but seems kind of dated.

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Mon May 02 2022
2

From Young Americans to The Worst version of Across the Universe ever. How can such a great talent be so extremely hot or cold?

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

Really enjoyed how free and emotional everything felt. All the songs were pretty long which I don’t always like, but the music was given a lot of time to breathe in between the lyrics which really just fit the feel of everything really well. Great album ❤️

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Tue Feb 23 2021
5

Fantastic album. Listened to as a whole, you can hear the influence from 70's funk and r&b. When I think of 80's multiculturalism, I think of this album.

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Mon Jul 26 2021
5

Probably one of the few instances where Bowie’s voice made something worse. The instrumentals were all so good but the timbre of his voice is so nasal and thin that it just doesn’t fit over the funky/soulful beats. Still great though. 9

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

Wow. This album is awesome. Again I found myself completely unfamiliar with the work of the artist, and I seriously dug this album.

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Wed Jun 21 2023
5

Fascinating move by Bowie into an American soul sound whilst retaining an outsider’s sceptical eye. And no imitation here, but influence, making a fresh new sound. The constant reinvention Bowie had over his career whilst remaining a captivating artist is extraordinary. I suspect there’s an extra star here buy what can you do? It’s Bowie.

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Fri Jun 30 2023
5

What a blast! From the iconic opening track all the way through to the equally iconic closer, this album is just such a treat. You get jazzy funky fun Bowie, crooning emotional weirdo Bowie, smouldering intensity soul Bowie, and boldly venturing into R&B Bowie too! It's an ever shifting sonic kaleidoscope of tones, moods, and styles that blend together with effortless cool. It's about as buttery as Bowie ever gets; we need a biscuit to sop him up! The perfect album for a night owl summer cruise on a hot sticky night with the windows down and nobody else on the road.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
4

Was a huge fan of this "Plastic Soul" album during my Bowie phase (I spent the lion's share of my graduation gift money on his albums). This one made him something of a favored son in Philly which made it kind of special when I saw him twice there on his "farewell" tour. "They've cleaned up the Italian Market!" he shouted from the stage. Favorite is Win. Cassette flip side was tvc15 I believe.

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Thu Jan 14 2021
4

David Bowie sure had an ability to sense trends in music and remake himself on the turn of a dime. I appreciate this album and its more soulful feel, but I'm more of a Ziggy Stardust kind of guy where the music felt a little more experimental and less derivative.

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Tue Nov 16 2021
2

Thought I liked Bowie. Oh yeah, I do, but not this album. Falls into that category of over-produced 70s popular music, that I truly do not enjoy. Not really even any highlights in it for me. Bowie is a bit of a chameleon. He released the album Earthling in 1997, which I bought and really liked of course, but it had a real 90s sound.

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Tue Dec 29 2020
5

dm me @pizzaupmynose on ig you are loved. you are worthy. sorry for hijacking your album generator :)

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Sat Dec 19 2020
5

One my favs since I was a kid.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
5

Spotify only had the 2016 remaster Didn't know Bowie sang Young Americans.

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Mon Jul 05 2021
5

Classics that you can listen to all the time.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

Heard this before, great album

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Thu Jan 14 2021
5

Didn't realize some of these songs were Bowie...!

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Sat Jul 10 2021
5

It’s so good. Even the deep cuts are fantastic, but the singles are otherworldly.

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Mon Mar 22 2021
5

4.5 | Después de una etapa en la que explotó todo el glam a lo más que dio retira por completo a Ziggy y lanza antes de la era de Berlin 3 discos - Diamond Dogs, Station to Station y Young Americans, en los que ahora el personaje principal es frio y distante, siempre vestido impecable y acicalado, sin emociones y modelado al mero fascismo. De los tres discos este es el que a mi parecer menos me agrada, sin embargo sigue siendo un disco excelente, se siente el Soul a todo lo que da y uno pensaría que es un artista que lleva trabajando el género toda su vida, no que fuera su primer experimentación en el mismo. Abrir con la que a mi parecer es la mejor canción del disco puede ser algo difícil de seguir pero hay suficiente material para defenderse muy bien, Fascination le mete un sonido "torcido" al funk que no se escucha en ningún otro lado, Across the Universe es en mi opinión el mejor cover de la canción y cambia por completo el sentido y emoción de la misma y Fame es simplemente genial, sea cual fuera el grado de la colaboración de Lennon lo que es cierto es que es totalmente mordaz y la manera de cantarla, ese sonido de una voz engreída y detestable no podría quedar mejor con la letra y lo vacia que hace ver a la fama como tal, al escuchar la canción no puedes mas que querer darle un madrazo en la boca al que la canta y creo es justamente el punto de la misma. Otro disco de Bowie, otro disco genial y, aun sin llegar a ser de los mejores materiales que hizo, demuestra la calidad de artista y versatilidad que tuvo.

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Mon Jun 14 2021
5

The title-track of this album is an absolute masterpiece of a song. Apart from the second track, most of the others were very good too, although not quite at the same level of brilliance as Young Americans. Still, all-round a great artist with a great album.

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Fri May 28 2021
5

It’s Bowie, you can’t go wrong really

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Thu May 13 2021
5

Groovy, especially 'Fame'. Did not know that John Lennon helped write/record that.

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Mon Jul 26 2021
5

10/10. There wasn't a miss on here. Young Americans is a classic, and the rest ranged from solid to excellent. I'm skeptical that there needed to be 9 Bowie albums in this list, but so far so good

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Mon Jul 26 2021
5

Not quite Ziggy Stardust levels of good, but good. 9/10

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Fri Jul 30 2021
5

David Bowie rated 5 stars. Such a great album!

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Mon Aug 09 2021
5

August 6, 2021 (Aug 16) Love some Bowie!

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Sun Sep 12 2021
5

Soul/Funk/R&B Bowie style. Great album, from start to finish. Fascination and Fame funky favourites.

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Sun Sep 12 2021
5

Yet another classical David Bowie album, perfect in every sense.

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Tue Sep 14 2021
5

This is quite an album. It showcases songs that have become absolute cultural icons - Young American, Fame - and others I am not as familiar with but are very good. Did not realize John Lennon was on this album, and I was not familiar with the Across the Universe cover.

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Mon Oct 04 2021
5

This album could just be the title track and "Fame" and it would be 5 stars. Everything else is just icing.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
5

Great album. Fame is popular, but I like Right

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Fri Nov 12 2021
5

Bowie is an absolute legend. Bowie can do no wrong.

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Thu Nov 18 2021
5

Love this album. While Bowie's weirder and less accessible work will always be my favorite, this album just has such a great fun funky sound. Can't help but jam out to it. Bowie is a musical chameleon.

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Thu Nov 18 2021
5

Perfect for a cocaine fueled dance party, orgy, or to get hyped for work.

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Fri Nov 19 2021
5

Really Great, super influential I'm sure.

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Tue Dec 07 2021
5

What is there to say. Every song is a classic and Bowie was already a master at his craft by this point.

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Fri Dec 24 2021
5

This is an excellent David Bowie albums, one of my favorites. This is also possibly the most accessible album he ever made, one I would recommend to someone looking to get into Bowie's music (after Ziggy, of course). Bowie really embraces the soulful aspects of his style that were always there, and just goes for full tilt funk and soul on this album. The result is a collection of sexy, groove-filled songs with warm, rich arrangements. The album also performs the neat/difficult trick of being very much of its time, but only in the best ways, in large part because it never loses Bowie’s own avant-garde sensibility. It's mid-70s hip, but entirely unique and a harbinger of what other singers would be doing for years after this. Vocally, Bowie sounds looser and more relaxed than usual. He is supported by a strong group of musicians and singers, including the exceptional David Sanborn on sax and a then unknown Luther Vandross. All of this this adds up to some incredibly engaging music and two of the very best singles of Bowie’s career in “Young Americans” and “Fame.” “Fascination” is my favorite deep track, a personal favorite. Bowie would move on rather quickly from this style, but this was a delightful detour. Fave Songs (All songs, ranked from most to least favorite): Young Americans, Fame, Fascination, Win, Right, Across the Universe, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Can You Hear Me

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Wed Jan 05 2022
5

This album is a masterpiece. I will be returning to this one over and over again.

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Tue Jan 11 2022
5

Two Bowies in a row! One of my favourite Bowie albums as well. I love everything that led to this album, a big change of pace towards soul following the Diamond Dogs era. There's a great documentary about backing singers called 20 Feet from Stardom which has a bit about Bowie's performance of Young Americans on the Dick Cavett show and how he worked with the backing singers so much in the writing process through the whole album. And he looked beautiful and had those huge shoulder pads. One of my favourite live videos. Magnificent.

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Tue Jan 11 2022
5

It's a Bowie album isn't it! Was well excited for this and it was excellent - especially the little Beatles nod. The only problem was I wanted to dance and fully enjoy the tunes and not sit at a desk working...

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Sat Jan 29 2022
5

Genuine contender for his best album.

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Sat Feb 19 2022
5

I just love how he is able to just mash everything together and play it off like it is his life and how he always was and always will be.

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Sat Mar 05 2022
5

Such a great album as nearly all David Bowie's are. The title track and fame being stand out singles in Bowie's long career. You can however hear the exhaustion taking hold and sense of unrest within the music. The massive amounts of cocaine taking their toll as well. You can tell listening to this that Bowie was ready for another change which he did in the form of his partnering with Iggy Pop and then the Berlin Trilogy.

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Thu Mar 10 2022
5

the level of creativity flowing from this man for his entire career spanning decades is phenomenal

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Thu Mar 10 2022
5

5.0 + Blue-eyed soul doesn’t sound like it could be cool but every song on here is awesome. Yet another genre bending triumph in David Bowie’s catalog and one of his best.

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Fri Mar 25 2022
5

Quite a jump from Diamond Dogs. Soulful, great arrangements especially for the backing vocals.

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Mon Apr 25 2022
5

Loved this. Really did. Was better than expected, and I expected good things. Bowie, at his peak, was a musical genius. This, from start to finish, was fantastic

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Fri Apr 29 2022
5

Superb. I'd rate it six stars if that was an option.

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Fri May 13 2022
5

I've not listened to much of this bit of Bowie and it’s long overdue. This is brilliant.

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Fri May 27 2022
5

Bowie's foray into soul is amazing. Top 5 Bowie album for me. Brilliant. 9-10/10

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Fri May 27 2022
5

Is it enough that the title track is possibly the greatest album opener in the history of music? It might be but it doesn't have to be because this album also contains "Fascination" perhaps the grooviest song of all time (or at least the grooviest Bowie tune.) Also, "Fame" features an actual Beatle, so there's that. I know this isn't as beloved as the Berlin trilogy or as iconic as the Ziggy Stardust stuff or as popular as the "Let's Dance" album (I absolutely love all that stuff too by the way) but if I had to pick one favorite Bowie album, it would be this one and maybe that's weird but I don't care, "Young Americans" is my favorite David Bowie album.

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Wed Jun 01 2022
5

Bowie is amazing. Have never listened to all the albums and this one is great

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Sat Jun 04 2022
5

I have not listened to the full album yet because I am too busy listening to the title track and replaying it but it is a BANGER! Def top 5 David Bowie albums Gotta love Fame, sad John Lennon is on it though

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Thu Jun 23 2022
5

I have yet to listen to a bad David Bowie album; I don't know if one exists. This one is certainly up there with some of the best. I'd heard the eponymous song 'Young Americans' and 'Fame' before and they're just pretty much perfect songs, but the entirety of the album is fantastic R&B/soul from a guy who wasn't, at the time, known for it. Bowie just has the talent to take in a new genre and roll with it, making some of the best music ever. Geez, what I would do to have that kind of talent.

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Sun Jul 03 2022
5

This is great, not sure how I hadn't heard it before. Reminded me of George Michael in a lot of places.

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Sat Jul 23 2022
5

Classic Bowie potentially his best work

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Tue Aug 02 2022
5

Classic Also forgot he did a cover of ‘across the universe’ by the beatles - noice

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Tue Aug 30 2022
5

Jævlig bra. Glede meg til den nye dokuen komme på kino

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Mon Sep 05 2022
5

10/10 David Bowie’s GOATED my man straight up slays every album lol

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Mon Sep 19 2022
5

One of the greatest albums by David Bowie.

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Thu Sep 29 2022
5

Starts off with one of my favorite Bowie songs in "Young Americans" but follows up with other great hits in "Fame" and "Across the Universe". Great album and strong from start to finish. 9/10.

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