Never Let Me Down by David Bowie

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Never Let Me Down by David Bowie
Never Let Me Down by David Bowie

Album Released: 1987

Never Let Me Down ::: Artwork

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1.Day-in Day-out5:36
2.Time Will Crawl4:18
3.Beat Of Your Drum5:03
4.Never Let Me Down4:05
6.Glass Spider5:30
7.Shining Star (Makin' My Love)5:04
8.New York's In Love4:31
9.'87 And Cry4:18
10.Bang Bang4:30


A big improvement over Tonight (heck, anything would have been), but still not happening. This got ripped to shreds by the critics, and nobody bought it. To tell the truth, it's not really that bad.

The first side is actually kind of okay (boy, talk about damning with faint praise) - "Day In Day Out" possesses a really catchy chorus, though not in a good way - it nags and nags, a song you don't really like but keeps getting in your head somehow. The title track finds Bowie in patented ballad mode, and it's not unlistenable, "Zeroes" casts its eye back to Diamond Dogs for some reason. I never intend to actually listen to the first side ever again, but believe me it's not bad.

Then there's the second side, which starts off with the most embarrassingly pretentious number Bowie has ever done (and that's saying something), the poetry reading "Glass Spider". It's easily the most godawful thing on the record. The rest of side two is considerably better, sounding the same as side one only not as good, which is to say it's bad. The album concludes with a cover of Iggy Pop's "Bang Bang" (will he quit recycling himself?).

You didn't buy this record when it came out and you have no good reason to buy it now.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise

This record sounds exactly as you'd expect a 1980's Bowie album to sound like, only minus the hits. Replace the three worst songs here with three hits of the calibre of those that graced Lets Dance for example, and this would be a completely different album.

As it is, Bowie sounds divorced from the making of his own record, something that was becoming increasingly usual for him during the 1980's. The production is standard glossy 80's, complete with booming drums and sterile although reasonably impressive rock guitar solos.

The sound of the record in general is clearly based on Lets Dance, in an attempt to maintain the appeal Bowie had in the US at the time. Still, whereas Lets Dance sounded genuinely new, Never Let Me Down sounds like Bowie treading water. Vocally he does fine, and if anybody cared to analyze the musical backing, it seems proficient enough.

Whilst the sound of this album is fairly cluttered, it does pack a reasonably decent sonic punch. But the songs themselves are deeply mediocre and the arrangements unimaginative ... you know, 1980's disco. If you ever found yourself dancing to a song from Never Let Me Down, it would likely have taken you a good while to even realise you were dancing to David Bowie. That's how anonymous the vast majority of this record is. It's something you can listen to and enjoy a bit if you're in a forgiving mood, but otherwise, you'd likely switch it off halfway and put on Diamond Dogs or Scary Monsters or something instead.

"Glass Spider" - for all its ambitious ideas - is let down by its execution, consistsing of 1980's beats with wailing rock guitar solos punctuating them. No actual musical melody, or at least not a very interesting one. The bass plays a repeating melodic refrain, Bowie sounds semi-involved, but struggling to make anything more of what's given him by the musicians and production team. The title track has nice harmonica and a good Bowie vocal melody, although again, it has an unmemorable backing track.

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

I used to consider this album a marginal step up from Tonight, but I've reversed that opinion ... even though Tonight had far more clunkers on it, and was probably more embarrassing for Bowie, that album at least had two unequivocal 80's pop classics in “Loving the Alien” and “Blue Jean”.

This album only has one song that even approaches that level, that being the title track. And whilst that's a good song, I wouldn't call it a great reason to listen to the album (the only reason to listen to this album would be if you felt like bashing your brains in with dull Adult Contemporary music by an artist who should know better).

That's right, Bowie continued his journey on that bandwagon of horrors, further contemporizing the pop-radio sound he had been working on since Let's Dance. Except Let's Dance had some great songs on it, and this album has none! While writing a boring adult contemporary album might be acceptable for an aspiring Phil Collins, it's far beneath the talents of David Bowie. That said, this album still offers hints of his freaky old self.

As I said, I like the title track. The melody is nice and the adult-contemporary guitars and rhythms play crunchy appealing textures, as opposed to the usual plastic boringness that pops up in other songs. I also really like the way Bowie sings it, adopting a pleasant high-pitched coo instead of his more typical flagrant undisciplined manner. The song is a belated tribute to his fallen friend John Lennon, and I imagine Bowie sang it to sound like him. He should sing like John Lennon more often!

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

More awful music from our man Bowie, but at least this time it’s fast and stupid instead of slow and insipid.

Nope, this one is just a run-of-the-mill horrendous pile of synthesized 80's swill ... everything is big and loud, and fake and layered, and shamelessly attempting to keep up with 'the times', which in 1987 meant big, ugly, echoey, fake music with no melody or personality.

Never Let Me Down is better than Tonight, but that’s not saying much. I don’t think a single instrument sounds good - the drums are huge and reverbed to hell, the keyboards all fall into the 'heavenly' background type, else the instantly dateable fake 80's type. The guitars are processed, and sound like typical fake 80's plastic bullshit. And the horns are overloud and overbusy, and play not a single note that does anything positive for a single song, plus they’re so tinny I can barely tell them from Wakeman-style keyboards.

Melodies are nonexistent, so that's made up for by the endless piling on of shitty instruments that sound fake. So, if the key word for Tonight was 'insipid', then the key word for Never Let Me Down is 'fake'. I’ve heard worse yes, but this is the most stereotypically fake 80's album in Bowie's catalog, so I feel comfortable labeling it as such. Plus the damn thing is so faceless it would probably benefit from my giving it a label, so this is the 'fake eighties' album, and Tonight was the 'insipid eighties' album.

I’m not gonna spend much time talking about individual songs this time, because they all sound exactly the same, but I will take time to point out a couple that are especially odious ...

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by Reviewer: BRAD