12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Highly ironic album title!,
This review is from: Never Let Me Down (Audio CD)
This was the first David Bowie album I ever bought, when it came out in 1987, and the beginning of a great adventure, so I have a bit of a soft spot for this album. It's often described as his worst album, but that's really not fair. The real word for it is disappointing - Bowie had proved he was albe to still come up with great music during this time, just listen to the lost classic "When The Wind Blows" (not on any album, grr) or the more well-known songs from the films "Absolute Beginners" and "Labyrinth". He also co-wrote and produced Iggy Pop's "Blah Blah Blah" back to back with this album, and the Iggy album is a Bowie record in all but name and full of great songs - if he'd kept them to himself things would have been completely different!
I was only 11 when I got this album (wanting to find out more about this strange singer after seeing Labyrinth and being very impressed) and to my untrained ears "Never Let Me Down" had a certain something that made it stand out from the bland yuppie pop of the time, but compared to recent efforts like "Outside", "Heathen" and "The Buddha of Suburbia" it certainly is weak for Bowie. The only other albums (OK tapes!) I bought in 1987 also go to show how weak "Never Let Me Down" was in comparison, and how low Bowie had fallen from his creative peak - "so" by Peter Gabriel, and "Actually" by Pet Shop Boys.
There are some terribly uninspired songs that leave me cold - a pointless remake of Iggy Pop's "Bang Bang", and "Too Dizzy" a song so bad that it has been left off the most recent version of this album! But, wierdly, it also features songs that are much better than almost everything on "Let's Dance" and "Tonight"! "Day in Day out" is an early attempt at the drum- and sequencer-led techno-rock of "Earthling" with some good one-liners, but suffers from very '80s horn arrangements. "Time Will Crawl" is vintage Bowie - reminiscent of "Ashes To Ashes" mixture of synth and guitar with lyrics full of wierd, apocalyptic surreal images and a suprisingly profound look at the chilliung idea that the boy round the corner could grow up to be the next Hitler-style nemesis! "Beat of your drum" oscillates between some icy slow verses with Bowie sounding like a man on the edge of the world (you can imagine his character in labyrinth singing it), and a very lusty chorus a la "Rebel Rebel". Again, too many horns though! The title song is a great ballad that really should be put in his live set. Despite typical ballad fare - harmonica, a whistling coda! - it has a certain strangeness in its jangly, jerky chorus that almost sends it into "Lodger" territory!"zeroes" is a brave attempt to make a 'fake' psychedelic song, maybe this was to blame for Kula Shaker?! And "Glass Spider" is quite like nothing else in his back catalogue and certainly not "Let's Dance"! The rest of the album is disposable, except for "87 & Cry" although the version on the "never let me down" twelve inch is a better mix.
So, not quite as atrocious as the critics make out - and not as boring as the very overrated "Let's Dance" - but not exactly his finest hour! Thankfully he made "Tin Machine" after this, which completely destroyed his '80s middle of the road pop star persona and got him thinking about making interesting records again, and most of his '90s work has been essential listening, with the exception of the rather dull "Hours".
Definitely the worst Bowie record sleeve ever!