The last album in Bowie's magical 70's streak - although Scary Monsters
doesn't break any new ground - it's a good summation of his late-70's ouevre, more commercial and accessible than anything he'd released in a long time.
With Eno no longer involved, there's less sonic experimentation than before, and so the album's much more song-oriented. Despite that, it still fits into the vein of Bowie's previous few releases, with the rhythm section of Alomar, Murray, and Davis still intact, and Robert Fripp and Roy Bittan returning to the fold.
It's hard to describe the sound - like a less-expansive version of the last few records, but with tighter songwriting and structure. In fact, the first side of Scary Monsters
might be the best half-LP of Bowie's career, with three terrific singles one after the other, and if the second side suffers by comparison, it's still solid enough nonetheless.
The competition for best song is a close race between the "Space Oddity" sequel "Ashes to Ashes", the "Fame" sequel "Fashion", and the Fripp-dominated title track, while the bouncy piano vamp of "Up the Hill Backwards" is one of Bowie's best album cuts. And the opening "It's No Game (Part 1)" has enthralling Japanese backing vocals and a notably histrionic Bowie vocal performance.
Side Two may be less dynamic, but it still features one of Bowie's best covers, a take on Tom Verlaine's "Kingdom Come", plus a guest appearance by Pete Townshend on "When You're Young". The only notable flaw is the overlong "Teenage Wildlife".
For anyone who's heard the preceding records there's little revolutionary about Scary Monsters
, and it's not the major statement epochal records like Low
were, but it's still extremely well done and approachable, and a fine culmination to Bowie's late-70's experimental years.Rated:
by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia
(blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct]