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4.5 out of 5 stars
Young Americans
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 May 2007
Well this is the 4th outing on compact disc for this classic album and yet another mix , it would be nice to know what this should really sound like as i'm bemused?

Lets take the stereo cd Fascination has sounded completeley different on each release and has always stood out as a case in point of mixers making their own decisions , each release has a new mix compared to the vinyl which was a cool flat sound (plastic soul?) , the emi/ryko cd was all echo and delay now this is a cross between the original cd by RCA and the emi/ryko. Well i have got used to this mix now and its nice in fact all the other tracks sound very good indeed though nothing too startling.

Now to the DVD surround versions for which you will need a caple home cinema set up to appreciate fully just how spectacular this sounds..well ive been listening to this album for 20 + years and the mix is stunning like you are in the studio, the DTS track is superb and the decisions made work very well . Fame is simply amazing , its a track i never tire of and you here allsorts of new things here , the rest of the tracks are simply perfection Win is sweeping and full panning round the room, breathtaking. Right benefits greatly as does Can You Hear me the backing vocals just a work of intense perfection. Somebody Up There Likes Me is the least amazing here and yet another mix of Fascination !! with a booming drum to the fore , interesting indeed. Even the totle track is given a boost of new life with the congas being right up there much like the Cavett show performance. I cannot stress enough how good this all sounds.

Minus points are the annoying menu and as mention manual selection of audio pcm,dts or 5.1 that you cannot change while the music is playing.

The dvd menus are not good with a single pic when the track plays and a 1978 pic used for one??? c'mon there were some superb photos from then , memorabilia would be an idea. The footage from The Dick Cavett show incomplete and is hardly rare though a nice thought missing off Footstompin is truly a crime (its almost an early work in progress riffing on what would be fame) , perhaps it would have been even better to have included Cracked Actor!!

The cover is badly reproduced though you can swap it over for the alternate cover which is nice, the notes are good but i would have liked to read Visconti telling what he did to them and more revelations on what Bowie was playing etc his guitar work on Fame is a thing of sheer class. The strings on the bonus It's Gonna Be Me? were they from the period or laid on top recently? why leave the original off?

I'm being picky but as all Bowie fans will be shelling out again it would have been nice for some care to back up the stunning work .

My advice buy it if you have a home cinema set up with DTS as you will get the full benefit otherwise its a curio to add to the collection.

Cannot wait for Station To Station now that is an album of almighty power........please take note EMI more care and thought.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
"Young Americans" still surprises me to this day with it's amazing R&B. The sound was more clearly mixed than "Diamond Dogs" and it was a real departure for Bowie. The regular remastered CD with, "John, I'm Only Dancing", "Who Can I Be Now?" and "It's Gonna Be Me" sounds even better than the original CD. The extra three tracks are on par with the other songs and its bewildering that in an era when 12 songs per album were standard, Bowie released an eight song album. "John, I'm Only Dancing" is a much more improved R&B version than the rock version.

The 5.1 mix surprised me. It is not perfect and I like it that way. Luther Vandross's back-up vocals come mostly from the rear speakers and you can hear him much more clearly. The congas on "Young Americans" are a little loud for the mix, but it makes the whole experience seem more like a live studio recording instead of a carefully remastered remix. In fact, Bowie mentioned in the liner notes that he liked recording this album with all the instruments playing at once while he sang. There are other surprises. On this DVD you can hear John Lennon speak briefly after one song and the finale of "Fame" has each word of 'fame' descending going around the room from speaker to speaker, but the loud shout of 'fame!' before, 'what's your name, what's your name, what's your name...' is missing. It catches you!

The Dick Cavett interview is a treat, with Bowie sniffing and wiping his nose while fidgeting with his cane. So he did a lot of coke during this period. Who cares? The album is a perfect choice for surround sound. And that sound will vary from system to system.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2006
In the Summer of 1974 while Bowie was taking a break from the "Diamond Dogs" tour he booked himself into the Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia to record what would later turn out to be one of his most influential albums of the 70's as years later this recording would give 80's bands such as ABC, Spandau Ballet and Simply Red a blueprint to follow.

The influence of American music had been hinted at on previous albums such as "Aladdin Sane" and "Diamond Dogs", albums which have a rougher R'n'B slant to them, think of "1984" from the latter and you have a clear indication of what was to come.

For this recording Bowie had assembled a bona fide rhythm and blues band for the making of the album, which included Willy Weeks on bass along with Andy Newmark on drums and on saxophone the Jazz legend David Sanborn.

The recording sessions of this album was split into 3 main sessions with 2 of them in Philadelphia and a last minute session taking place in New York with the late John Lennon taking part on 2 tracks adding vocals and guitar to "Across the Universe" and "Fame".

The title track starts off the album, this has at it's heart a frantic shrieking alto saxophone played by Sanborn this is introduced by a run on the piano by long serving Bowie side-man Mike Garson which is played off the sound of Latin flavoured percussion this adds the beat with Luther Vandross leading the backing singers, Bowie croons about everyday life in America after Watergate.
The groove is urgent and compulsive, with Bowie even borrowing a catch phrase from the Beatles when the backing singers sing the line "I heard the news today, oh boy" at a crucial moment, but the killer line is when Bowie sobs "Ain't there one damn song that can make break down and cry".

The following cut "Win" (4.44) which has echo-filled saxophone flipping from speaker to speaker with Bowie singing "I say its hip to be alive" if you listen closely to the delivered vocals the tone in his voice doesn't support the message of the delivered line, Bowie revealing himself after years of role-playing, when he sings the line "well you've never seen me naked and wired" you can hear the struggle between the distanced, contrived poseur and the newer real vision, this is a haunting melody with a rippling synthesiser sound and melting backing vocals that give this exercise in positivity at it's heart the line "All you got to do is Win" this neatly states the message of the song the resigned vocals are at odds with the message.

The next song is an adoption of a Luther Vandross composition called "Funky Music (Is part of me)" Bowie has changed the title to "Fascination" this song has benefited most from the CD re-mastering process, the piece now has more of an echo to it which gives this dance floor workout a new sheen, listen to the chorus "Fascination Sure' nuff Takes part of me Can a heartbeat Live in the fever Raging inside of me?"

The song "Right" (4.15) has the most authentic soul sound to it with a smoochy riff which is built around the line "Never no turning back".

The next track Bowie has written around the phrase "Somebody up there likes me" (6.30) which was the original title of the album, this one line in America has reached the status of folklore, since the 50's it's main manifestation was as a title for a biographical film about a boxer, the part that had elevated Paul Newman to stardom.
Lyrically this is one of Bowie finest songs, as it contains a critique of the corrupting powers of the media, which is pretty ironic as Bowie is criticising the very image he had become, with the line "There was a time when we judged a man by what he had done /Now we pick them off the screen / What they look like / Where they've been" this cut has some killer sax and a wonderful sounding arrangement on the backing vocals.

Usually when Bowie covers a song he brings something new to a song but here with his version of "Across the Universe" (4.29) the Lennon and McCartney composition his delivered croon is ill suited to the song or to his personality and is the weakest part of the album.

The soul ballad of the album "Can you hear me" (5.03)is a yearning song which teeters at times on the verge of clichéd and cute, Bowie shows the ease in which he gets to grips with the genre, when he builds to the line "Why don't you take it right to your heart" his singing is stunning.

To close off the album Bowie has chosen the other track recorded with John Lennon "Fame" (4.16), this turns out to be Bowie's big U.S. breakthrough and gives him an American number 1.

Carlos Alomar's infectious rhythm guitar riff which he borrowed from the James Browns song "Hot (I need to be Loved, Loved, Loved)" is the perfect foil for Bowie's catalogue of evils and woes with the line "Fame, is what you want is in your limo / Fame, what you get is no tomorrow".

One of the great album experiments by Bowie in 70's, and is an essential part of his back catalogue.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2012
This album could have been Bowie's greatest work. A complete departure from Diamond Dogs released only a year before. I love every song on this album. From "Win" to "Can You Hear Me" this album flows. But I have to add that Young Americans is spoilt somewhat by the Across The Universe. Yes no doubt Bowie was flattered that Lennon wanted to co write the fantastic "Fame" track. But did Bowie have to jettison two amazing tracks as "Its Gonna Be Me" and "Who Can I Be Now" to make room for Across The Universe cover which subtracts from the finished album?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2004
On first listening this does not match Ziggy Stardust or Hunky Dory, but the more you get to know Bowie's work the more you should appreciate it. More than any of this other albums this has one linked mood. The mood I guess being an insight into the blissed out, cocaine high of an international rock star from the mid seventies, who has a golden touch and is living his life to the hilt. His singing on the title track is arguably his best ever. And most audacious of all, wonder at how a skinny white guy from Bromley with bad teeth and a dodgy eye can make his version of black urban soul music sound so good.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2010
I am a Bowie fan but it took me a while to get into this album but now I really like it, but the version I own contains the bonus tracks: Who can I be now?, It's Gonna be me, and John, I'm Only Dancing (Again).
These bonus tracks are, in my opinion, better than any of the other songs in the album, except the wonderful title track. If you can, I would strongly recommend you getting this version. Don't expect this album to be Ziggy. It's not. If you wanted more songs that are like Ziggy I would recommend Aladdin Sane as you would probably only like the title track in this album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2012
Quite frankly, it isn't hard at all to see how Bowie's 'hardcore' audiences greeted this release with some trepidation back in 1975. It is a 'clear' change in direction and a total re-invention of his sound; essentially, Bowie explores Soul, Funk and Disco music here and, in my view, the results are flawless!

The title track 'Young Americans' grows on you almost immediately, while the likes of 'Fascination', to me, is probably one of his best compositions and performances ever! Another stand-out is 'Somebody Up There Likes Me' (which was actually going to be the title of this album before Bowie himself selected the album we know it as today), check out the lyrics to this great song and the voice(s) that Bowie adopts for singing on this album would shape his future sound(s), no question!

Personally, I did not enjoy what Bowie did to The Beatles' (I should really say John Lennon's) 'Across The Universe', but its' inclusion on this album does showcase what Bowie is known best as to musicians worldwide: an innovator.

The song, 'Fame', co-written with John Lennon, is another song that grows on you almost immediately, I feel. Once again, Bowie's voice here is... splendid.

So, in conclusion, I would say quite easily that this effort will/does take a little getting into in the early-going, especially for 'early Bowie' fanatics. With 'Young Americans', Bowie went Soul/Funk/Disco, but did so expertly, essential listening here, all things considered.

Buy it... Happy Listening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2012
Bowie's most divisive LP? Of the 1970s then, yes, certainly. "Fame" aside, I didn't know a single Bowie fan, as a kid growing up in the 70s/80s, who had time for Young Americans. A massive long-term Bowie fan myself, it's the one LP of his that I held off from purchasing until the mid 80s, when original vinyl copies cost peanuts 2nd hand, & by which time GREAT new Bowie records were already beginning to look like a thing of the past. That cheap used copy was a massive revelation for me - I've never been a soul buff, but the way Bowie skillfully twists the genre to meet his own needs - be it on the curiously opaque "Win", the desperate "Right", or the almost evangelical "Fascination" - offered me, a skinny ex-punk white boy, a route into an entire genre of music that I'd previously dismissed as mediocre "pop" wallpaper.

Truthfully, Young Americans' 2nd side is a bit of a let down in the wake of it's devastating predecessor, & "Fame" is the only genuine knock out. Quite why the abysmal Beatles cover was included, rather than outstanding session outtakes "Who Can I Be Now?" or "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)" (both included on the 1991 Ryko remaster), God only knows? His attempt at Springsteen's "It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City", included on the Sound & Vision box set & EMI's 1974/79 compilation, is much, MUCH better. That slight disappointment aside, Young Americans stands as one of Bowie's bravest, if not out-&-out finest, albums. If you've not heard it yet, grab a copy of the expanded Ryko reissue & dig in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2006
Hands up I am a Bowie fan. But I am also a huge muisc fan in general. Its hard for people to understand just how contraversial Bowie was at the time. You either hated him or loved him or got beaten up in school like I did. Must have been the makeup I was wearing and my strange Ziggy haircut!
This album alienated alot of Bowie fans. Just listen to the previous orwellian Diamond Dogs back to back with this album. This was a truly a huge change in musical direction. And it works. Really it does. Bowie invented white plastic soul and few have surpassed him (maybe Goerge Michael). You even still hear fame in clubs remixed and revamped so many times.
As other people have stated the title track is just amazing. One wonders how Bowie can go from Big Brother to the beautiful sax filled Win and still remain cool. Like Low this was a brave album for Bowie to release. A huge commercial hit in America it wasn't near as successful in the UK. While fame stomped to No.1 in the US it just made the Top 20 in the UK.
The album on the whole works brilliantly tho' i still cant stand across the universe. Fortunately, the new released version of this album contains two Bowie classic, the Soul Version of John I'm Only Dancing and Its Gonna be me. The latter with a basic Garson piano and Mel Torme crooning from Bowie.
The album inspired and influenced so many bands to mention. It also caused a bad hair day in Britain as Bowie invented the wedge!! Ask your hairdresser.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2015
Concentrating first on the sound this review is for the often-maligned 1999 EMI remastering which in my opinion is more than acceptable. The original RCA CD release was virtually unlistenable, as Bowie himself admitted. The 1990 Ryko remaster is far too "flat" and lifeless for my taste, although that edition does have the essential three bonus tracks, which the 1999 version does not. The "30th Anniversary" release is a tad too shrill in my opinion, although it does reveal some sounds I had previously not realised were there, most notably on "Fascination", which indeed would appear to be slightly different mix.

So, that leaves us with the 1999 remaster. Despite the many nay-sayers out there, I keep returning to it when I play "Young Americans" before the others. Just my taste.

The album is great, of course. Bowie again taking his fans by surprise in 1974-75 who were no doubt expecting more glammy rock in the style of "Diamond Dogs" and "Aladdin Sane". Instead we had the cocaine-influnced "white soul" which remains almost completely unique. Nobody has really done anything like it since.

The title track is up there in any Bowie top ten and "Fame" is, well, "Fame". Even James Brown sampled it on "Hot" (not the other way round as is popularly perceived).
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