So one of the reasons I’ve been on this Rock Candy kick has to do with trying to understand, for myself, why I continue to be drawn to David Bowie’s early 70s records, everything from The Man Who Sold the World (1970) to Diamond Dogs (1973). This is the stage of his career in which his music arguably ROCKED the hardest, and I’ve begun to shy away a bit from hard rock with the onset of middle age. I suppose the reason why these records still move me is that the music is not ROCK as an end in itself. The ROCKingness of the songs is always in the service of themes that can’t but be communicated in a hard charging way, but there’s plenty of candy to both offset and complement the ROCK. The music remains melodic in spite of its hardness. It really doesn’t get any more melodic than The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972), and yet Mick Ronson’s guitar snorts and snarls and farts and growls all over that record. It’s a perfect blend of hardness and tunefulness and strikes me now as quite an abrupt departure from Hunky Dory (1971), which is the one record in Bowie’s ROCK period that doesn’t ROCK quite so hard. Having said all this, though, I’d have to add that The Man Who Sold the World is my least favorite of Bowie’s ROCK records, perhaps because it’s not just hard but hard and heavy. I think of it in the same vein as Led Zeppelin III. The two records were released within one month of each other in late 1970, each a heavy-duty, plugged-in folk album. I don’t mind heaviness if it’s tuneful, but often times heaviness prevents music from realizing its full melodic potential. This is definitely the case with The Man Who Sold the World. I wouldn’t necessarily characterize the record as a step backwards from Space Oddity, but Space Oddity is the more enjoyable record to hear because you don’t have to fight through so much noise to get to the heart of the matter. Still, The Man Who Sold the World has its moments, and it’s a David Bowie record and as such is interesting by definition. Black Country Rock, with its tambourines and squawking Mick Ronson guitar playing, is my favorite song on the album. Bowie has always had such great taste in guitarists, hasn’t he?