- 30 Oct 18
Nothing Like The Dame: Bowie's Real Low
Ignore the revisionist historians, David Bowie – one of the greatest artists to ever open an eye – had a rough time of it in the eighties, as this lavish box, the fourth in an on-going series, attests. He followed the brilliant decade opener Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) - not included here - with Let’s Dance (83), which saw Bowie reaching for the top of the charts after finally extricating himself from the clutches of former manager Tony Defries. He told co-producer Nile Rodgers he wanted hits, and that’s exactly what he got. Roping in the then relatively unknown blues guitar wunderkind Stevie Ray Vaughan, who grabbed his chance and never played better, they knocked out a polished jewel, although a more conventional one than the faithful were used to. The hits are all here, but ‘Shake It’, ‘Without You’, and a dynamic re-working of ‘Cat People’ are their equal.
Tonight (84) is just as bright, but nowhere near as good. ‘Loving The Alien’ is one of his best songs from the period, and ‘Blue Jean’ is a fine single, but the rest of it has aged badly, especially the ill-advised stab at the Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’. By his own admission, Bowie was no longer that bothered.
Never Let Me Down (87) is simply the worst record with Bowie’s name on it that isn’t about laughing gnomes. The production is so of its time that Mickey Rourke turns up rapping on ‘Shining Star’. ‘New York’s In Love’, ’87 And Cry’, the execrable ‘Glass Spider’ nonsense – the songs are just bad. ‘Too Dizzy’, a track Bowie disowned, has been airbrushed out completely, although how he picked just one above the rest is a mystery. I remember it. It’s awful.