Young Americans by David Bowie

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Young Americans by David Bowie
Young Americans by David Bowie

Album Released: 1975

Young Americans ::: Artwork

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1.Young Americans5:11
2.Win4:44
3.Fascination5:45
4.Right4:15
5.Somebody Up There Likes Me6:30
6.Across The Universe4:29
7.Can You Hear Me5:03
8.Fame4:16

Reviews

David Bowie: Soul Brother #1 ...? I don't think so. Bowie fans hated this when it came out, and though time has proved kinder to it (some even consider this a lost classic), its worth is mainly gauged from whether you (a) think this isn't that bad, or (b) think it's awful. I'm in camp (b).

David Bowie has two problems singing soul. First off, he doesn't have any sincerity, or at least is incapable of coming across as sincere - fine for plastic forms, but African-American genres place a premium on such values. Secondly, he has no pipes, an even worse failing when you're trying to sing the same type of music Al Green and Aretha Franklin are masters at.

What makes a bad idea an even worse reality is that Bowie has written no memorable tunes for this album, save for the one good song, the title track, and the collaboration with John Lennon "Fame", which is memorable because it jumps at you with its awfulness - unlike the other tracks, which just drip down the drain like a Grecian hair formula.

Redundant cover: "Across the Universe". Telling song title: "Who Can I Be Now?" (a bonus track, all of which are inessential this time around). Do the right thing and buy an O'Jays album, or maybe something by The Spinners if you have a hankering for Philly soul, because on here Bowie comes perilously close to becoming a hipper Pat Boone.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)


Britain couldn't give a damn about Bowie being camp, whereas it would've made him unacceptable in America. But John Lennon co-writing one of the songs on this album made Bowie acceptable there - such is the hold of The Beatles over America.

For Young Americans is indeed David's 'American' album, his 'black American' album even, with him using the 'right' musicians - he impressed said musicians with his vocal skills. Indeed, Bowie's vocals are superb throughout this entire album. The songs are mere sketches though, stretched out, with backing vocals galore - huge stretches of music that seemingly include no actual Bowie involvement at all. Bowie himself classified it as 'plastic soul'.

You see, Bowie was clever - he never once claimed to be genuiune, to be a genuine black American type of guy! And, he quickly grew tired of this type of sound, realising its limitations. Still, the title song is cool. Bowie produced one of his trademark catchy melodies and married it to black funk playing, and it worked. And both "Win" and "Fascination" are cool mellow songs, with Bowie producing superb vocal performances.

By comparison, his rival Marc Bolan's 'sheep' vocals couldn't compete, which is why Bolan never cracked America, where Bowie did. Bowie shamelessly sold out. He did everything he possibly could, even working and co-writing a song with a Beatle, something that was guaranteed to endear him to America, as Bowie realised that Amercia was nuts about The Beatles. That song was called "Fame", and it reached No.1 in America. Then Bowie moved on, having achieved what he wanted.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)


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.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)