Monday, 28 May 2018

David Bowie - Never Let Me Down (1987)

Released on 20 April 1987

Recorded at Montreux, Switzerland

Running time 48:06

I have never quite understood the bad press this album gets. Yes, I accept that it is no “Ziggy”, “Aladdin Sane” or “Low”, but I have to admit that I prefer listening to it to either of its two predecessors, “Let’s Dance” or “Tonight”. It brings back happy memories for me of 1987 and I guess that always helps, but I genuinely feel it is a more than acceptable album, given the paucity of classic material being produced at the time.


1. Day In Day Out
2. Time Will Crawl
3. Beat Of Your Drum
4. Never Let Me Down
5. Zeroes
6. Glass Spider
7. Shining Star
8. New York's In Love
9. 87 And Cry
10. Bang Bang
11. Too Dizzy * on original album

As mid to late 80s music was dominated by synthesisers and synth drums and so on, it is welcome on this album to hear Peter “Frampton Comes Alive” Frampton’s guitar ring out, especially on the three excellent opening tracks - “Day In Day Out”, the memorable, catchy “Time Will Crawl” and “Beat Of Your Drum”. Granted, the title track is not quite as good, but it is pleasant enough. Actually it is no more or no less pleasant than “Kooks” on “Hunky Dory”. “Zeroes” is certainly as good as any other 1987 rocker too.

“Glass Spider” is in the territory of indulgence, I guess, but had it been put on “Diamond Dogs” it would have been labelled a work of genius. “Shining Star”, “New York’s In Love”, “87 And Cry” are, in my opinion, perfectly enjoyable songs of their upbeat, poppy type. “Bang Bang” sees the standard drop a bit but it is no worse than “Too Dizzy”, the song Bowie had removed from the original album (to be honest I always quite liked it!).

Of the bonus material, “Girls”, later covered by Tina Turner is good, but “When The Wind Blows” is probably the pick. “Julie” is ok but nothing special.

This is a good late 80s album of upbeat pop songs. It serves its purpose. Just enjoy it for what it is, and don’t compare it to Bowie’s best work. It has to be said that “Time Will Crawl” is a great track, and would grace any Bowie album.

The 2018 remaster of the album takes away some of the eighties production harshness, giving it a big, thumping, bassy makeover. Check out "Time Will Crawl" or the title track for evidence. Or that Eastern guitar/percussion bit at the end of "Zeroes". It has been given new life. These tracks sound great. In fact, the whole album does. It is a truly excellent remaster. 

Incidentally, both “Never Let Me Down” and “Shining Star” have excellent extended 12” remixes that are available, full of some great saxophone breaks and pounding drums, that in many ways, improve upon the originals.


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