Let's Dance by David Bowie

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Let's Dance by David Bowie
Let's Dance by David Bowie

Album Released: 1983


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1.Modern Love4:48
2.China Girl5:33
3.Let's Dance7:37
4.Without You3:09
6.Criminal World4:24
7.Cat People (Putting Out Fire)5:09
8.Shake It3:50


Camp, meaningless, and disposable, but good fun. That should wrap up this review since you probably already know this record - it sold better than any other Bowie album, breaking him as a Top 40 hitmaker (in America, of course - he had always had much more success in the UK and Europe).

Hiring Chic alumni Nile Rodgers to produce, and young hotshot Stevie Ray Vaughan to play guitar, Bowie produces a menu of danceable ditties that are tasty, go down smoothly, though aren't in the least bit filling or substantive.

Ironically, Bowie was cashing in on the New Romantic trend that he himself (along with Bryan Ferry) was one of the prime inspirations. Leading off with the three hits and strongest tunes proves that Bowie has an uncanny knack for judging which is his best material, and unnecessarily makes the rest of the album irrelevant - just how many times has Side Two been played, I wonder?

Not that Side Two is bad; if any of these other songs had become hits, they might have been memorable. As is, as long as I keep this playing I can enjoy it, but as soon as it's over, it's over, with little to entice me back for seconds.

The hits ... "Modern Love", a bit hypocritical for a creature as sexually omniverous as Bowie, eh? Ah well, you knew insincerity was his schitck, and anyone who hasn't gotten over that has long since left the building. And if you can get over Iggy Pop's racist/imperialist lyrics, "China Girl" is another winner. "Let's Dance" is my least favorite of the trilogy, though as the title suggests, you can dance to it.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)

Bowie teams up with Nile Rogers (formerly of Chic) and creates one of the most commercial albums of the 1980's, with ultra-contemporary and impressive production for the time, and Nile Rogers seemingly given a mission by the Bowie team to pack as many hooks into each song as he could.

It's a shame that the album fails to maintain its momentum throughout, but with three massive blockbusters to open, that's hardly surprising. "Modern Love", "China G1rl", and the title track all became worldwide bestsellers and the latter moved Bowie firmly into Rock's mainstream, a position that even with Ziggy, he'd never quite occupied before. Long-term fans bemoaned the lack of strangeness in Let's Dance, preferring Bowie to stay 'out there' and obtuse. He won a legion of new fans though, many listeners just pleased to have a decent entertaining album to listen to.

Let's Dance doesn't really merit any deep analysis, it is what it is. Nile used classic arranging and production tricks, making sure the music appropriately evoked each song's lyrics and title. Besides the music and contributions of musicians such as Stevie Ray Vaughan on stellar guitar, Let's Dance contains some fine Bowie vocals, his voice deeper than during his seventies days.

Still, back to those three stellar singles. Bowie previously gave "China G1rl" to Iggy Pop, his own version adds all those shiny Nile Rodgers moments such as a distinctive and suitably chinese-sounding opening riff. "Modern Love" has fabulous jerky / bendy-sounding guitar to open, before proceeding with pounding drums and trumpets decorating the chorus, and there you are - another hit!

All the singles from the album sported expensive and appropriately 1980's videos, which were almost as memorable as the songs themselves. Video certainly helped sell the title track, a masterpiece of production and a pop classic. After such a strong start, the soft "Without You" - sweet as it is - comes across as akin to a decent B-side and nothing more.

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

After a three year break from making music, Bowie decided it was time for a big change. He bleached his hair blonde, put on a yuppie outfit, and wrote music that pandered to a wide international audience to an extent he'd never done before.

The result was Let's Dance, his biggest seller of all time. Its title track even hit No.1 on the Billboard charts for a week, which was considered quite an accomplishment in the 1980's.

Yes, Bowie completely threw his artistic ambitions out the window. Let's Dance isn't interesting to my 'art-loving brain' at all - this is an air-headed 1980's pop album and little more. However, considering the first three songs on it totally kick ass, I think he can be forgiven.

There are five other songs on this album, and they suck my butt, but we're not going to talk about those. The three monster classics are loaded at the beginning, and it's pretty easy to forget the other ones exist.

“Modern Love” rules! You'll know that right away the moment those awesome, muted riki-tiki-tiki-tiki sounds make their way into your ears, before those huge stadium drums start blasting away like Greek gods playing with thunder. I'm not usually a fan of loud 1980's-style stadium drums, but when they're played in a danceable fashion to a catchy riff, it can be fun. Bowie's singing is full of gusto too, even though the lyrics make no sense to me. But lyrics aside, I love listening to every second of it, and it even makes me want to dance. And I'm not a dancey sort of person.

Perhaps the song people remember the most from Let's Dance is “China Girl”, which Bowie had co-written earlier with Iggy Pop for 1977's The Idiot. I can't say for certain which version is better, but this slicked-up version is about the coolest suavest moment of Bowie's career. The Oriental-ish riff is memorable, and so is the main vocal melody, which Bowie sings in a smooth deep voice.

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