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David Bowie - Never Let Me Down CD (album) cover

NEVER LET ME DOWN

David Bowie

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ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It took some three years to Bowie to recover from the release of "Tonight". His first blunder of his long career. No excuse as for his debut album. But here we go for what Bowie himself considers as his weakest album.

Actually, the first couple of songs are not that bad. But what is more interesting are both video clips. "Day-In, Day-Out" will be even banned from several TV channels (of which the BBC). Just have a look on You Tube. It is true that the images are rather raw and violent.

The second song "Time Will Crawl" will also be released as a single, but won't really chart. Just as the title track which is slightly better though. It is often considered as homage to Lennon. It is true that it reflects the melancholy of some Lennon songs. But I guess that the fans were cooled down by the harsh reviews of the album and were a bit hesitant in grabbing anything that had to do with it.

To be honest, even a song as "Beat Of Your Drum" is way better than most of the stuff available on "Tonight". Good guitar work, somewhat in the style of Fripp during "Scary Monsters". The guest guitarist is no one else than Peter Frampton and I must say that he raised the quality of some songs quite dramatically.

The same attempt is done with ."Zeroes". Rather humoristic for a title as well, but fortunately David released an OK song.Heavy (too) drumming, hypnotic and (too) repetitive beat though.

David brings us back in the "Diamond Dogs" atmosphere during the intro of "Glass Spider". A recitation depicting some sort of end of the world atmosphere. The storyboard is deeply sci-fi oriented. Some baby spiders being dropped on earth by a "Glass Spider" and be left alone. Things get worse for them when they figure out that all water has gone, which probably means death for them. The whole song features a fantastic rhythm and again a great guitar work from Peter Frampton.

The first blunder of this album is "Shining Star", but it is already the seventh track, so when compared to "Tonight" we are almost safe.

IMO, the highlight of this album is "New York's In Love". It is a mix between "Scary Monster" (the track) and "Day-In, Day-Out". I can understand that David is trying to repeat some parts of this great album, but each attempt on "Never Let Me Down" is of course inferior but again, the level remains pretty decent throughout the album even if towards the end, this cloning affair is a bit embarrassing ("87 & Cry").

The closing number is also a solid rocking number, as most of the songs featured actually. "Bang Bang" is a cover from a song written by old friend Iggy (he co-wrote it with Ivan Kral from the Patti Smith group). It is one of the songs of this album which is a pleasant surprise for me. Must have been twenty years that I didn't listen to it.

IMHHO, "Never Let Me Down" is a good album. Way better than "Tonight". Three stars.

Report this review (#174932)
Posted Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars It is so unfortunate to hear such a dissapointing album form one of my favourite artists. It has its redeeming values, but they are few and far between. The production is cold and tinny, just like the song writing.

The opener, 'Day-In Day Out', at least is a not-too-bad song in the vein of Young Americans. Catchy, but often annoying, and longer than it deserves/needs to be. 'Time Will Crawl' is pretty dire and monotonous despite some interesting lyrics. 'Beat of Your Drum' is in the same vein, only worse. 'Never Let Me Down' is a decent enough pop song, but nothing excellent. 'Zeroes' is the ultimate low-point of the album, and easily the worst Bowie song that I have heard. 'Glass Spider' starts off promisingly, with a creepy spoken word introduction, but soon becomes an average disco-flavoured pop song. 'Shining Star (Makin' My Love' is one of the few songs on the album that is enjoyable, and above average, with lyrics that always amuse me. 'New York's in Love' is pretty bad, as is ''87 and Cry'. 'Bang Bang', the only cover on the album, is surprisingly the best. It is a cover of Bowie's friend and collaborator, Iggy Pop. The song is immensely catchy and fun.

This is definitely not a place to start for new David Bowie fans. There is no prog here either.

Thanks to a couple of good songs, this album gets two stars out of five.

Report this review (#175911)
Posted Wednesday, July 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Many people consider this Bowie's career low, even worse than Tonight or Labyrinth, but at least this has three tracks I like. The title track, as everybody points out, is an uncanny imitation of John Lennon circa 1980, and the combination of Bowie's vocal delivery and the great harmonica parts makes for a totally delightful experience. "Time Will Crawl" might essentially fall into the category of generic 80's pop, but it's got a genuine feeling of power in the lyrics and the beat, which is more than I can say for the bulk of the album. And you know, maybe I'm an idiot, but as far as generic semi-melodic 80's pop goes, I feel one could do a lot worse than "Shining Star (Makin' My Love)." It's just so freaking pleasant that I can't get myself to dislike it.

Unfortunately, that's pretty much all of the good that can be said for the album. This album feels like the quintessential Late 80's Album From A Washed Up 70's Star, and not even some sporadically decent guitar work (from Alomar and from guest Peter Frampton) can change that. There are a couple of instances where Bowie tries to reach into his past rather than relying solely on current trends, but they're total failures. "Zeroes" tries to conjure up memories of Ziggy Stardust and "Heroes", crossing them with synthesized audience noises meant to remind one of Diamond Dogs, and it irritates me to no end. "Glass Spider" (!) features Bowie reciting a nonsensical poem (!!) before going into a pop song no different from the bulk of the album. And believe me, the bulk of the album is just tacky and gross.

It's interesting to me that, in an interview a few years later, Bowie singled out this album and not Tonight as his low point. While I don't agree, I can definitely see where he was coming from on this. Once again, don't bother.

Report this review (#306257)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This will be only the fourth review for this album. It doesn't deserve much more. (It came out at the time when I was 16-17 years old and quite often bought vinyls, especially from bargain bins. Naturally the majority of those buyings are long gone.) It had been three years since his previous studio album, Tonight (if Labyrinth O.S.T. is not counted) and with this album he tried to rise from the low season in his career. Commercially he probably succeeded, but artistically? It depends what you compare this one to. I'd say this is better than Tonight (which is generally regarded as one of his worst albums ever). If it's better than his later albums, I can't really say, because I have never got much interest towards them. Outside I know to be better, that's all.

This is very very 80's album, starting from the cheap-looking colourful collache cover art. The hits had heavy circulation in the MTV ('Day-In-Day-Out', 'Time Will Crawl') and I sense a little joyous yuppie feel here: most of the the album is up-tempo, catchy pop with rather light contents.

Of course in the big picture of BOWIE's vast discography this one has very little weight, but as a product of its time, I wouldn't bark at it harshly. The production is relatively good, and there are some good songs. The adventurous 'Glass Spider' is easily the best one. 'Time Will Crawl' isn't bad either. Even some of those light pop tunes do have a certain charm (title track, 'Shining Star'). However there are quite many songs I wouldn't care to visit again even for nostalgic purposes. Not quite three stars, but two deservedly.

Report this review (#481218)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Never Let Me Down" is just one of many Bowie albums that have been hated in retrospect. David Bowie described the album as his worst, and many fans are disappointed. But though this album may not be pioneering, it is a pleasant listening experience with some great pop tunes.

The album starts with the first single "Day-In, Day-Out", a great track which deals with the struggles of life in American cites at the time. The next tracks is "Time Will Crawl", the second single from the album. This is one of the best tracks on the album, with a great beat and interesting lyrics. "Beat Of Your Drum" is not great, a cliche 80s track with a similar feel to Cat People from Let's Dance, revived only by the intro. "Never Let Me Down" is a very pleasant track, but the lyrics are pretty cheesy and the chorus is somewhat insensitive to the rest of the song. "Zeroes" is one of my all time favourite Bowie tracks, and definitely my favourite on the album. It is a great summary of 80's Bowie, the heavy drum beat, great guitar, and that feeling that only Bowie can achieve in his music.

The second side begins with "Glass Spider", a typical "creepy Bowie" track. Is an excellent track, a wash of atmospheric synths, great guitar and of course Bowie's menacing voice. The song reminiscent of something from Pink Floyd's Momentary Lapse of Reason. "Shining Star" is an incredibly melancholic song, which I believe to be a song about being in love with a drug addict. "New York's In love" is a good track, with a disco feeling that lasts throughout the rest of the album. "87 And Cry" is a boring disco tune that drags a little. "Too Dizzy" is a nice track, though it stands as little more than a good David Bowie pop tune. The album ends with "Bang Bang", a boring and weird end to the album. The album is another Iggy Pop cover, but it is truly unnecessary and leaves us with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

This album is a great listen with some excellent tracks such as "Time Will Crawl" and "Zeroes", but as far as prog, it is not essential. 3 stars. Peace!

Report this review (#906520)
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Not even Bowie himself was keen on the original version of Never Let Me Down; as he explained it, he wasn't really feeling engaged at the time and didn't really pay that much attention to the production, with poor results - in particular, the drums from Erdal Kizilçay are entirely too intrusive. According to Reeves Gabriels, Bowie wanted a do- over on some of the songs almost as soon as the album had come out, but eventually decided that it was a bit too soon.

However, Bowie kept toying with the idea of revising the album, and completed a radically reworked version of Time Will Crawl as a taster for the project. He never got around to doing the rest of the songs before he died, but in early 2018 Gabriels assembled a team of Bowie collaborators to produce a brand-new version of the album which was a bit more worthy of the Thin White Duke's legacy, following the lead of the reworked TIme Will Crawl and what else was known about Bowie's intentions for the do-over.

Having emerged on the Loving the Alien boxed set, Never Let Me Down 2018 is pretty decent - we can certainly hope it will see a separate release soon, and it'd be a good thing if it displaced the original album altogether. In particular, that intrusive drum sound is toned down remarkably, allowing the intros to songs like Time Will Crawl to finally breathe. So, tack on an extra star and a half if you're looking at that version - but as far as the bungled original goes, avoid.

Report this review (#2047650)
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2018 | Review Permalink

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