The “plastic soul” of David Bowie album “Young Americans”

Looking back at Bowie’s soul adventure that was released on this day in 1975

The “plastic soul” of David Bowie album “Young Americans”

A drastic departure from his Ziggy Stardust days, “Young Americans” it’s one of David Bowie’s most out of the box albums. The record marked the beginning of his troubled American períod and was inspired by the Philadelphia soul and R&B music scene. The recording sessions took place on 11 August 1974, during breaks in David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs Tour”, the album was recorded by Tony Visconti primarily at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia. It was agreed early on to record as much of the album as possible live, with the full band playing together, including Bowie’s vocals, as a single continuous take for each song. The Beatles cover “Across the Universe” and “Fame” was recorded at Electric Lady Studios, January 1975 in New York, with famous contributions by John Lennon, including co-songwriting and back vocals on Bowie’s “Fame”, one of the albums most famous and successful tracks. Other successful songs featured on the album are the title track “Young Americans” and “Fascination”. This was the album that earned David Bowie a new legion of American fans and made such a buzz in Soul music stations that he got to perform on the TV Show “Soul Train” to major black audiences. This turning point on Bowie’s career was like almost every single one of his albums, different and unexpected, the adventure he called “plastic soul” would last through much of 1975, and in 1976 he started to plan his next career movement with the experimental “Station To Station” that preceded the famous “Berlin Trilogy”. “Young Americans” was released on March 7, 1975.

Side A
1 “Young Americans”
2 “Win”
3 “Fascination” (Bowie Luther Vandross)
4 “Right”

Side B
5 “Somebody Up There Likes Me”
6 “Across the Universe” (John Lennon Paul McCartney)
7 “Can You Hear Me”
8 “Fame” (Bowie Carlos Alomar Lennon)

All songs credited to David Bowie, except where noted.

Personnel
David Bowie: vocals; guitar; keyboards
Carlos Alomar: guitars
Mike Garson: piano
David Sanborn: saxophone
Willie Weeks: bass guitar (except on “Across the Universe” and “Fame”)
Andy Newmark: drums (except on “Across the Universe” and “Fame”)
Robin Clark: backing vocals
Luther Vandross: backing vocals
John Lennon: vocals; guitar; backing vocals on “Across the Universe” and “Fame”

Produced by:Tony Visconti, Harry Maslin and David Bowie
Recorded during: August 1974 November 1974 – January 1975 at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, Record Plant, New York City and Electric Lady Studios, New York
Released: March, 7, 1975
Label: RCA Records

Singles:
“Young Americans” Released: 21 February 1975
“Fame” Released: 25 July 1975

Strongest tracks:
“Young Americans”, “Fame”, “Fascination”, “Somebody Up There Likes Me”

Watch David Bowie performing the song “Young Americans” live at the Dick Cavett Show in 1975

Listen to the album “Young Americans” on Spotify

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