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David Bowie - Let's Dance CD (album) cover


David Bowie


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3.15 | 244 ratings

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2 stars Unlike some people, I think David Bowie did best when he stuck to the pop and rock format. I said pop - not soul, funk, progressive, electronic, etc. He was and always will be a popster to me, and Let's Dance is a show of his prowess in that large sold-out arena. The problem is, when he went this route in the 1980s, he was in a very large field of competent performers, and only stood out for being David Bowie.

Young Americans heralded a change in his voice to a deep mouth-breathing white soul persona, and left his more engaging pop voice behind. "Let's Dance" is no exception, and it's also blessed and cursed with 1980s production such that he sounds like any one of the numerous bands of the era, or they sounded like him. SIMPLE MINDS is one group that comes to mind. I acknowledge his role in that sound, and responsibility, but at this point it seems he made an easy album and millions.

The first two cuts are the big highlights - "Modern Love" a deceptively cheery drama that has some similarities to the more subdued "Stepping Out" by JOE JACKSON, and the superb "China Girl" which finished in a lengthy Stevie Ray Vaughn solo that steals the show. He tries again with the title cut but this is where SIMPLE MINDS was so much more convincing, a la "Promised You a Miracle". Nothing here makes me want to ignore the triteness of the theme that was at least 10 years overdue and overdone.

Most of the rest is undistinguished and tepid, especially the closer "Shake It", which is "Let's Dance" revisited, with the expected result. It is telling that the most interesting other tune is "Criminal World" that he did not write, and had been a hit for METRO. Brass and multilayered vocals cannot hide the banal reggae of "Ricochet", for instance. "Cat People" isn't bad but sounds a lot like an inferior "Rockin the Casbah" by the CLASH. Was Mr Bowie the innovator just a follower at this point? I think I will let him go to the dance floor alone and stay behind with my ULTRAVOX.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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