David Bowie the androgynous space alien had now morphed into the blue-eyed soulster known as the 'Thin White Duke'.
Whilst it's cool how Bowie was able to come up with so many awesome aliases, when I listen to this album I've gotta wonder ... why the heck did he want to go soul? I mean, he doesn't do anything particularly interesting with it.
These are more or less straightforward songs. Two of them - “Fame” and the title track - are great of course, but the rest either don't catch fire or they totally bomb. It's no wonder Bowie would commence his next transformation immediately after this album's release (hey, you've got to give the guy credit for knowing when to bail out of sinking ships!).
But at least Young Americans
did grant the world “Fame”, David Bowie's first #1 single in the United States, and it continues to hold up well. It's hardly an original song - Carlos Alomar went on record saying Bowie lifted the riff from somewhere else. But what a cool song - that riff is funky, and Bowie barking Fame!
throughout is quite engaging.
The big surprise about that song though is that one of the co-writers was John Lennon, who can also be heard on back-up vocals. Even 40+ years after-the-fact, the prospect of Bowie and Lennon collaborating still strikes me as weird. Anyway, “Fame” is a great song, and in my opinion singlehandedly makes Young Americans
a worthwhile venture overall.
But don't forget the title track, which is just as good. It's energetic, crunchy, and fun from beginning to end. After sitting through the abysmal David Live
, it's nice to see Bowie had figured out how to sing a soul song! He gasps and grunts throughout, while remembering to sustain the main melody, which is pretty freaking catchy.
by Reviewer: Don Ignacio
(blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews