David Bowie - Tonight
What a disappointment! This is truly awful and something from which, I think Bowie has never properly recovered as an artist. Bowie may have enjoyed some considerable success with his previous effort, but his attempt to continue with the dance theme with this was an abject failure. Bowie had made one of the outstanding pop records of the early eighties with Let's Dance but that very success brought him problems. Once you slip into the clutches of the mainstream, as Bowie had with that release, you find it very difficult to let go. Not only is there a feeling of satisfaction and elation with commercial success but, like an addictive narcotic, it keeps pulling you back for one more hit.
I can only think that after the money making success of Let's Dance the record executives put enormous pressure on him to come up with something in the same vein. The result was a disaster of epic proportions and one from which, in my view, Bowie never recovered. I never bought another album of his after this and have never taken the time to listen to any of his later work, save for a few really poor pieces from his even more disastrous Tin Machine era.
One or two tracks are worth a listen "Loving the Alien" being the obvious one - a seven minute long hit. Later on, "Blue Jean" was a nice poppy hit, but the rest is duff. In fact, it may well be that Bowie was struggling to find new material for this album. After the opening track, there are no less than four straight cover versions. Not since Pin-Ups had Bowie done something like this. It is perhaps the mark of an artist running out of creative steam that he had to resort to a tactic such as this for I can think of no other reason why he would wish to resort to making an album of lame covers.
The two good songs I have mentioned. Now let's look at the bad. First of all, Iggy Pop is someone who needs people to collaborate with. Bowie did not need Iggy Pop. Listen to Blah Blah Blah by the Igster, released around the same time, and you will see who got the better deal out of the partnership. Indeed, of the many covers on this album, three are covers of Iggy Pop numbers! Why would Bowie, who had a wealth of good older material of his own, wish to do something as downright naff as this?
Then there is the production. This completely lacks any sort of pace and drive. There is no emotion, no empathy and no imagination to it. This is Bowie the producer on autopilot - filling contractual obligations perhaps but going through the motions all the same. Then there is the choice of songs. "God Only Knows" is a Beach Boys classic - why ruin it, for ruined it is. And what on earth possessed Bowie to jump into a metaphorical bed with Tina Turner and produce the awful duet that is the title track.
This album marked the end of my association with David Bowie and while I always kept an ear out for his later work, I never bought another of his albums. He fell off my prospective purchasing list pretty quickly. But hey, Bowie has been around for years and has given us some great stuff in the past. To an extent I can forgive this album on the strength of that. He can't be a fucking genius ALL the time.
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on 2011-02-22 CharlesMartel Said:
This was the album where Bowie and I parted company. I never bought anything by the man after this, though I did see him in Concert in Hong Kong in 1988.