On the one hand, there's Nile Rodgers back as producer - trying to make another Let's Dance
. On the other hand, there's Bowie covering Morrissey and Scott Walker, and doing a couple of instrumentals ... generally trying to sabotage the commercial nature of every single suggestion Nile Rodgers made.
The result is a slightly confused product that pretended Tin Machine and the two previous solo Bowie efforts hadn't existed. People wanted Let's Dance
#2, and whilst Black Tie White Noise
left people happy that Bowie was 'back', they were unhappy with what he came back with.
Still, there's the comeback single "Jump They Say", pretty much perfect, with energy, trumpets, and a top dog melody. Shamefully though, no other even slightly catchy or memorable single came from this album.
As I said at the start, Bowie sabotage! This record has almost nothing beyond what are obviously all-out commercial sounds, scribbled upon by Bowie, who should have left best alone. The stresses and strains between artist and producer resulted in a compromised product. I mean, a 5-minute plodding instrumental isn't perhaps the best way to open your 'comeback' album!
The general sound of this album is dance plus dance plus occasional trumpet. And it has dated, very badly. At the time, Bowie needed to sell records - but with albums like Low
(as he'd objected to Nile Rodgers, who perhaps didn't understand the Bowie legacy).
Bowie needed to cover both corners - artistic credibility, and commerciality. He failed, but at least set himself up for a few records where he could do more with his artistic freedom. But this album comes across as a 1980's leftover, and although it's slightly better than the previous few Bowie solo releases, it has all the same faults. Rated:
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
(blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews