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David Bowie - Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) CD (album) cover

SCARY MONSTERS (AND SUPER CREEPS)

David Bowie

 

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4.08 | 398 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
5 stars SHINBUN WA KAKI TATERU

During almost two years, Bowie took a break (at least in terms of a true solo album). But he will be active in the theater business. In December 79, he will attend a representation of "The Elephant Man" in New York. The producer, Jack Hofsiss will ask David if he would like to act as the main character. And he accepted.

It was apparently a true tour de force. No make-up was used (on the contrary of the movie). It was true his miming skills that David had to suggest the monstrous deformity of the (elephant) man. The play will be a great success. Both commercially and artistically.

David will be unanimously acclaimed for his brilliant acting. Of course, his previous miming experiences were of great assistance. But apart from that, Bowie is very discreet. Almost anonymous. We are far from Ziggy's fame and glitters.

For this album, Fripp is back on the guitar and one can immediately feel his phenomenal influence on the opening track. The hard "It's No Game, Part 1". Partially sung by a female Japanese, it combines English lyrics as well. The finale is brilliantly Crimsonesque. The guitar making some jolly good and disjointed noises. So strong that David can only stop it by shouting: "Shut Up" at the end of this great opener.

And even if "Up The Hill Backwards" is somewhat lighter, it also ends up in a kind of Fripp frenzy. Distorted and raw guitar sounds. Still, I consider it as one of the two weakest song from this superb album. Because David is extremely performing here. Lyrically and musically.

The tile track is another brilliant song. IMHHO, it is fully dedicated to "The Elephant Man" but I couldn't find any confirmation of this. So, it's only my interpretation. The lyrics anyway don't mention this at all. The song is again on the hard side and Fripp does have a lot of pleasure, apparently. Throughout the album its cold and metallic guitar sound will definitely mark this album. A highlight.

Would you believe? Major Tom is back after having wandering into space for over eleven years! Ground control has finally got the contact. "Do you remember a guy that's been in such an early song, I heard a rumour from ground control Oh no, don't say it's true; they got a message from the action man".

In the meantime our dear old Major Tom has been through several experiences and is pretty much a bad guy. "You'd better not mess with Major Tom". A funny wink and a great video clip, Bowie himself wrote the script and at the end one can see his mother while the lyrics say: "My mama said to get things done, you'd better not to mess with Major Tom". It will be number one in the UK. Another highlight.

Side one ends up on "Fashion". My least favourite of the whole album. Too funky. Too "Young Americans" oriented.

B-side opens on the fantastic "Teenage Wildlife". So reminiscent of "Heroes". A catchy melody, great backing vocals, complex guitar of course and powerful lyrics. David being some sort of a godfather giving advices to a young man: "You'll take me aside, and say Well, David, what shall I do? They wait for me in the hallway I'll say Don't ask me, I don't know any hallways.

Seven minutes of pure happiness. Another highlight of course.

The next song "Scream Like A Baby" is not a new one. David had already written parts of it as soon as .1973 and will finalize the project now. Great vocal effects, fine synth. Do I need to talk about the guitar parts?

The next song is somewhat weaker and more straight forward. "Kingdom Comes" is the only song from the album not written by David. It was composed by Tom Verlaine. The leader of the great "Television" (whom I saw in 78 at the Brussels University. A great souvenir).

A very special guest is playing the guitar on the next song: Pete Townsend himself! The beat is again wild, the bass play very effective. It appears to be a song written to the attention of Zowie (David's son who had just celebrated his tenth birthday).

And we close as we opened. "It's No Game, Part 2". Much softer than part one, the lyrics are all in English this time; actually the English section of Part one (only the last phrase is new). The loop has been looped.

"Scary Monsters" is a fantastic rock album. IMHHO it is David's last masterpiece.

The remastered CD edition (1992) features several bonus tracks of which a stripped down version of "Space Oditty" without the great Wakeman keys. It might give an another angle to it, but it is not coming close of the fantastic original. The speeded up version of "Panic In Detroit" is also somewhat weird. As if David was in hurry. Again, the original sounds miles better.

The next one is an instrumental track. "Crystal Japan" had been recorded as a single in 1980 but only as a Japanese imported stuff. It was backed up with "Alabama Song". It should have closed the album but was pushed out by "It's No Game, Part two".

It is a wonderful and ambient song which reminds instantly the great atmosphere of "Low" ("Warszawa", "Subterraneans"). Since the fans had to pay lots of money to get this, David insisted to have it on this new CD version).

The last number is a strange piece of "music". Original composed by Bertold Brecht and was already covered by "The Doors" under the name of "Alabama Song" (on their debut album). It is frankly pretty much uninteresting.

I've said masterpiece already. Five stars.

What a great album! What a fabulous emotion while I discovered it! Thanks David.

ZowieZiggy | 5/5 |

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