In a career spanning six decades, few artists in the history of popular music have amassed a back catalogue as enduring, extensive or eclectic as David Bowie.
Whether performing as himself or under one of his many guises, from Ziggy Stardust, to The Thin White Duke, or even Jareth the Goblin King, Bowie struck a balance between experimentation and mainstream sensibility that set him apart from his contemporaries.
One of the key themes throughout Bowie's career was his constant evolution. From trend setter to musical chameleon, Bowie was able to adapt and thrive in the glam rock infused seventies, the New Romantic movement of the eighties, and the industrial electronic sound of the nineties.
Bowie was a true artist in every sense of the word. His final album, Blackstar, dominated by musings on his own mortality, was released a day before his death in January 2016.
As a solo artist, he has released an astonishing 25 studio albums. This can prove to be an intimidating barrier of entry for those looking to immerse themselves in Bowie's music, leaving many to settle for a compilation or a selection of his especially lauded albums.
The majority of the tracks listed here will not feature in a greatest hits collection. However, it is often the lesser known offerings that truly illustrate the majesty of Bowie's output, and deserve to be heard as much as his timeless classics.
10. Queen Bitch (1971)
The most famous song to be featured on the list, Queen Bitch
is not one of the first tracks that Bowie aficionados would necessarily deem
‘underrated.’ However, despite not being one of his most iconic or ubiquitous
offerings, Queen Bitch has cemented a legacy somewhere in the second tier of
Bowie classics. Therefore, it is possible for the three-and-a-half minute rocker to have gone unnoticed by those who possess only
an elementary knowledge of Bowie’s back catalogue.
Queen Bitch is located on the second side of Bowie’s iconic fourth album, Hunky Dory, home to three monster tracks in Life On Mars?, Changes and Oh! You Pretty Things. With such stellar company, it is unsurprising that Queen Bitch is often overlooked.
On an album that pays homage to some of his earliest and biggest influences, Queen Bitch is Bowie’s own personal tribute to The Velvet Underground. The main riff is often likened to The Velvet’s Sweet Jane, but is actually borrowed from Eddie Cochran’s Three Steps To Heaven.
In the track, Bowie portrays a character witnessing an encounter between two people, one believed to be the protagonist’s lover, while the other could be a prostitute. He grows ever more restless as the track progresses, lamenting their relationship with shouts of “It could have been me” and “Oh God, I could do better than that.”
It also foreshadows the glam rock period of Bowie’s career that would manifest itself in his follow up album, where Bowie embraces his Ziggy Stardust persona.