on 17 April 2012
I have a real fetish for commercial or artistic disasters,i am a glutton for punishment.LOVE the bloated glory of U2s Pop album,love the amped up discord of REMs Monster,Lou Reeds tuneless masterpiece Lulu,Queens Hot Space and by golly feast upon the master of mistep Gary Numans post Telekon material.Up there is David Bowie circa 1987,Pepsi ads with Tina Turner,enormous terminally hairsprayed MULLET and the immense Glass Spider tour.Fantastic.
Watch Bowie in interviews from 1987 on youtube,a truly mind boggling experience as Bowie very much the insulated,rich pop superstar uses words like "dynamite!",raves about Paul Young,talks about the "funky,turkish,durvish" playing of his guitarist,plays a goblin king in Labriynth....
You can almost feel the cool crowd suffer a collective coronary as the former purveyer of taste swaps artistry for platinum,middle aged blandness.You know everyone goes on about this period but lets be honest here David Bowie is in no way,shape or form a stupid man.This is a performer who knows exactly what he's doing.
Except what he was doing in 1987 was awful,cheesy,soaked in irrelevance.
Bowie i assume thought i want this.
Never Let Me Down should be treated as a harmless artefact of its time.On its own terms its an enjoyably superfluous album.From the multi millionaire rock star preaches about the homeless Day In,Day Out to the actually rather brilliant Time Will Crawl,the cringing monologue of Glass Spider....its a baffling,flawed album.
Certainly make no mistake 87 Bowie was equally as much as a character as Ziggy,Thin White Duke.
In this context Glass Spider,Never Let Me Down works.
Plus i like to think this experience led to the genius albums Buddha Of Suburbia and my favourite album Outside.
Bowie in the 70s was UNTOUCHABLE,so what about a few duds?If you are going to mess up,do it on an ernomous scale with a 60 foot spider scaling down wires.
Mistakes are a fascinating thing.
on 4 February 2016
I was a very precocious fan of Bowie's music - starting, like many 1970s brats with 'Starman' on TOTP when I can only have been 8. I had a copy of the 'Jean Genie' single bought for me by a friend of my Mum's, who also happened to be a missionary priest. He came round for dinner one day and asked - randomly - if 'anyone would like a record'. We heard nothing more until a month later when a parcel arrived with my 'Jean Genie' and a copy of Elvis' 'Burning Love' for my sister. Perhaps some big wig from RCA was a member of Father Dave's parish. Who knows? Sadly, by the time Never Let Me Down was released in 1987, I had already become convinced that my musical idol was washed up and I didn't even bother to buy the album until many years later (and again recently on CD). Recent history has however seen a small 'about turn' in terms of 'Never Let Me Down' - I love Nick Pegg's write up on this album in his superb book 'The Complete David Bowie' for example. The truth is, it's not that good at all, however I would go as far as to say that most of the first half of the album counts among his best work of the 1980s (although hardly up against the stiffest of competition) One or two moments of mini magic (the bridge into the chorus of 'Beat Of Your Drum' for example is superb) do not make a great or even good album, however I have come to the conclusion that of the three solo albums released by Bowie in his 'Phil Collins' years (post Scary Monsters, pre Tin Machine) this is marginally the best. At least Bowie sounds like he is having fun on the album - far more so than on the predecessor, 'Tonight'. So, light years from his best work in terms of quality, and ultimately disposable, but a Bowie album nonetheless and therefore deserving a listen or two at very least.
on 27 July 2002
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!
on 21 February 2016
This is regarded by many people as David's worst ever album.
Although I wouldn't agree with that, it is certainly not his best, recorded during his "Phil Collins Years" as he put it later, in the late 80's.
Worth it for the superb single Time Will Crawl on it's own, there is much else here to enjoy.
David in his worst era was still head and shoulders above many other more mediocre musical artists.
Still, a worthy four star purchase.
Just buy it, you never know you might really like it!
on 22 October 2013
I had the original vinyl version and have been looking for a digital version with the track 'Too Dizzy'. All subsequent CD versions after the first pressing have this track deleted. This Japanese version also has an extra track 'Girls' (Japanese Version) which is a 4 minute edit.
I bought this version to complete my DB collection of studio albums on CD. Many say this is not one of his best albums but I think there are some good tunes on here. This album harks back to the rock 'n' roll of the 60's in places (Zeroes, Too Dizzy) etc. but with an 80's twist. Mickey Rourke on 'Shining Star' places this right in 1987! There is movement to the album and is not laid back like say, 'STATIONTOSTATION'.
on 8 March 2013
This isn't as bad as some people would have you believe. 10 years ago I lost all of my Bowie collection and wasn't able to replace it until only a few months ago. I hadn't heard this album for so long I had completely forgotten most of the songs. He is as good, if not better, than I remembered. I really enjoyed listening to this all over again and remembering the music. Most of the songs are enjoyable and fun to sing and dance to. The best being 'Day-In Day-Out', 'Never Let Me Down', 'Time Will Crawl' and 'Shining Star' but I love 'Glass Spider' as it is so uniquely David Bowie and I like the little stories he tells with some of his songs.
on 11 February 2016
I begrudge giving this album even the one-star minimum. I suppose 'Time Will Crawl' at least deserves a mention as a half decent song/vocal performance, but just like the rest here it's bathed in that godawful 80s over-production: Thin chorused funk guitars, slap bass, factory-sample brass stabs, twinkly/cheesy DX7 leadlines and pads, and ofcourse the truly horrible 'doosh doosh' drums.
If the 80s were where Bowie dug himself into a deep hole of irrelevance, 'Never Let Me Down' can be found at the very bottom. His songwriting had become musically and lyrically pointless, out of touch, and sterile. Like so many records of that time which were targeted primarily at the US market NLMD just reeks of 'product'.
Die-hard fans try to excuse this era of mullet sporting, shoulder-padded, ludicrous Prince style stage show touring bombast as just another of Bowie's calculated reinventions, but the rest of us can see it for what it was - a once great artist having completely lost his mojo amid the sycophantic, corporate sponsored, and slick hyper-commercial world of late 80s America.
The Tin machine project aside, Bowie never hit a low like this again thank goodness.
on 30 July 2002
...it's far from Bowie's most influential effort, but this is more a sign of the times than talent in decline.
In the mid-eighties, Bowie was at a loose end with regards to take his career, and mainstream pin-up pop was the one avenue he hadn't hitherto explored. Depspite the sub-standard FM-radio production (so commonplace at the time), there are some genuinely good songwriting moments here, even if some of the session musicians' performances didn't quite do them justice. 'Time Will Crawl' harks back to 'Diamond Dogs', 'Glass Spider' is Bowie being typically off-beat, and 'Zeroes' and the title track would have been fought over by the mid-80's competition.
After all, if Bowie was washed up, as is the popular misconception, where did the great soundtracks come from? 'Absolute Beginners', 'This is not America', 'When the Wind Blows', etc. 'NLMD' reflects the sound of the industry and the times, rather than the great David Bowie.
A decent Eighties album, if ever such a thing existed, and in any case, far better than Style Council!
on 20 May 2016
According to Bowie, he was in a "mire" while working on 'Never Let Me Down' and that his indifference to the album's production had had a negative impact. "'Never Let Me Down' had good songs that I mistreated. I didn't really apply myself," he later said. "I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to be doing." (NME - 19 May 2016)
on 11 February 2005
Frankly, I don't believe in the notion that great artists suddenly can loose their ability to create great art. However, with a lack of inspiration, no amount of raw talent and genius can save you. I believe that was what happened to David Bowie in the mid-80's. After reaching a much higher level of fame with Let's Dance (a very good album by most standards, but quite mediocre by Bowie's) he seemed lost as to what to do. Trying to keep his new audience he started to make albums to satisfy them rather than himself which naturally led to a lack of inspiration and interest. The first album after Let's Dance, Tonight, I thought was dreadful at the time, but it has in fact improved somewhat with time. This is, however, not the case with NLMD. Of course, it does contain a few good songs, but the overall quality of the songs is quite mediocre. It could have been a decent album though, hadn't it been for the bland production. The "big drums", the bad synthesizers, the non-inspired guitar-playing, the lack of depth... I could go on and on. Even Bowie's vocals seem totally uninspired, as if he already when making the album had lost faith in it.
Fortunately, David Bowie got his inspiration back in the 90's and has been making consistently great albums for the last 12 years. Too bad so few people gives him a chance and try to listen to more of his recent stuff.