SCARY MONSTERS (AND SUPER CREEPS) (1980)
Six months into a decade and Bowie defines the way pop music would sound for the rest of it. A lot of eighties pop music has that general sound, you know the one, sort of squeaky, like the music’s been wrapped in cling film. This was by no means a bad thing and anyone looking for eighties cheese will love that almost all pop music made in this decade sounds like it but Scary Monsters was probably what started it and was definitely the best example of it.
You wouldn’t expect me of all people to like eighties cheese, but I go for some occasionally. I am one of those people that actually listens to Duran Duran by actual conscious choice and genuinely enjoys it. I know, its crazy. I don’t go in for eighties cheese that much but Scary Monsters is a different kind of eighties cheese. The rest is Camambert, this is definitely Wedneslydale… okay that description sucked didn’t it?
More artsy than cheesy, well aside from a couple of tracks. It does seem like a steady reworking of Bowie’s general sound into this new form pop music was starting to take to but Scary Monsters really set the trend. Its what he’s known for and his chameleon tendencies are really apparant here. Its also awesome and one of his best.
CHRISTIANE F. (1981)
Soundtrack for a German movie I haven’t seen. I haven’t heard anything from it either. Appears to be instrumental versions of tracks from his mid seventies albums and a live version of Station to Station thrown in for good measure. I didn’t bother reading the description of the film but apparantly people that liked it on imdb also like Milk, the pursuit of happyness and the aviator so its probably some emotional oscar baiting crap. As I said though, I haven’t the foggiest. It could be about aliens that look like microwaves for all I know…shit what if it is? What if I’ve been letting this pass me by and its actually the mental story of a girl called Christiane F. who’s made of matchsticks and fends off the microwave aliens by making crete paper model trains…
*TWO HOURS LATER*
Yeah its not, its some oscar bating shit about drugs. David Bowie actually shows up briefly when the girl who’s into drugs and stuff goes and sees him in concert… yeah that’s all I can be arsed to say about it.
LET’S DANCE (1983)
And again, I’m that one twat alone in his stupid opinions. Okay, Let’s Dance is a good album, its sort of similar to Scary Monsters in sound but its veering off in a different and cheesier direction. While Scary Monsters was cool, Let’s Dance was…well, trendy. And I think that’s what I don’t like about it.
Yes Scary Monsters was pretentious in many places. The most glaringly obvious one being the opening track which has Bowie screeching like he’s getting his testicles removed with a pair of pliers while a Japanese lady reads the lyrics like the voice in an in-flight safety video. It’s just that Let’s Dance was… too pop. The only track that seems really out of place is China girl, which has a grittier and darker edge, swastikas and globalisation and things, but the rest…take it or leave it really. Not a bad album and I see why it gets the respect it gets but its just not the side of Bowie I personally like.
Again, similar opinions on this one, though people don’t seem to like it as much so kinda between the two. Yeah its alright, and everyone seems to think its alright, just not that memorable. Mostly filler, no tracks apart from Blue Jean that really set it apart from other eighties cheese.
That said, the video for Loving the Alien is so unbeatably ridiculous and mental and crazy and… you just have to see it to believe it.
Why are there grey people playing the cello? There is no cello in this song! Why is he blue and shaking? What’s that thing that looks like a fountain? Why’s he playing an organ suddenly? And now there’s two of him…and his teeth are glowing…and now he has a shield and is being set on fire…. NURSE!! MY MEDICATION!!
So they eventually did get David Bowie to star in a film AND write the soundtrack for it. And instead of psychosexual mental explosion of drugs and madness The Man Who Fell to Earth, its a Jim Henson movie for kids. As far as different goes, that’s at least 12.7
The fact the movie is so monumentally weird and in a lot of places dark and creepy and really is something I think everybody should see at least once no matter your ages, you’d think the album to go with it would be just as awesome, right? Well… mostly. Its a mixed bag. Some of the songs are general examples of Bowie’s mid eighties cheese period. They go really well with the movie though, its a lot better to see these songs sung with a bunch of puppets than listened to on an album. Its a cheesy eighties movie for kids, this music works well with it just not so much on its own.
NEVER LET ME DOWN (1987)
Okay did he seriously call this Never Let Me Down as an ironic statement? Cause its probably considered his worst album. Is the full title “Never let me down…up until now” Maybe its a fictional narrative about the expectant David Bowie fan tired of going “oh yeah, new David Bowie album, it’ll be awesome as always, surprise me why don’t you? Is the sky also blue? Does grass grow upwards? Can penguins fly now?” Then they get it and end up screaming in horror that maybe life isn’t as predictable as they thought. Now they’re doomed to wondering what’s going to happen next. Maybe dancing skeletons are going to knife you at the bus stop because life’s suddenly gone all weird.
Bowie himself actually apologised for it. He said he was convinced at the time it was awesome but that he was unhappy at the time so his opinion was probably coloured by that and he’d convinced himself of its merits. Written to be a stage production, its sort of like Labyrinth in that the music feels lacking when visuals aren’t with it. But since there are no visuals with it, it just ends up feeling lacking. Well, there were visuals, they toured it the year it came out and released a concert video…was still shit though.
Also – no its not my least favourite, that’s still to come.
TIN MACHINE (1989)
Trying to get away from the rather bloated position of global phenomenon that he clearly despised, Bowie’s next project was something call Tin Machine. It didn’t sell very well. Obviously because the words “David Bowie” have more credibility than two random words shoved together, even in spite of the decades of awesome music behind that name. I mean “tin machine” isn’t exactly the most exciting name you could think of. Tell ya what, I’ll put together a band called “space bazookas”. No matter if the album’s just me farting into a microphone I reckon it’ll sell millions.
…I’ve just realised I’m a paragraph in and I haven’t actually talked about Tin Machine. It was an attempt at a supergroup by Bowie and…three other people…with names…and hair…and arms. Tin Machine was just an indication of just how utterly miniscule every other musician on the planet who wasn’t David Bowie looked by comparison and was the ultimate flaw in the plan. You could tell he cared about it though, he grew a beard for it, that shows some dedication to sounding cool I guess.
So far as the music’s concerned, its really good… sorta. Its kind of like a dingier cooler, almost grungier version of his seventies stuff. Think Nirvana fronted by David
Bowie… yeah I know that’s two of my favourite musical entities, why the fuck am I not salivating at this album? I think its okay, just a bit too slow and moody, I like slow and moody I just felt this album needed more energy. I need to be in the right mood to listen to it really. Under the God is a fucking tune though.