Saturday, 13 October 2018

David Bowie - Never Let Me Down Alternative 2018 Remix

I was greatly looking forward to hearing this 2018 interpretation of the material from 1987’s much-maligned “Never Let Me Down” album. Bowie was never happy with the initial recording of the album, and, although I have always liked the album, I do accept that some of the worst excesses of eighties production rubbed off on it - layered synthesisers, programmed drums and the like.

Apparently he gave his permission for his old band-mates, including Tin Machine’s Reeves Gabrels, to tinker around with the material and try to make it sound as maybe it orginally should have done.

Now, the question is - do they achieve that? Yes and no is my considered answer. Yes, they they take a lot of the offending keyboards from the recordings, change a lot of the guitar sound and add a more resonant bass. The problem with that bass is that in many places it is a dance music-influenced thumping, vibrating bass, thus the album just sounds, to some extent, like one of “dance mixes”. They also add sweeping synthesised strings, such as on “The Beat Of Your Drum” and “Zeroes”. Some of the songs, like “Time Will Crawl” begin with a stripped-down acoustic guitar before getting into the kicking rhythm I had grown to love. The title track has a huge muscular bass thump, and sounds very much like the “alternative dance” mixes of it from back in 1987, actually. The song is enhanced appealingly though, as is “Day In Day Out”, although the latter loses some of its original power, I feel. The same is true of “Zeroes”, which was remastered superbly on its 2018 remaster from the original album, with the marvellous Eastern guitar and percussion at the end being really enhanced. The version on here doesn’t really give us that.

“Glass Spider” is the track here given to most obvious makeover, adding several minutes to it and all sorts of different sounds. This is a good one. “87 And Cry” is interesting too, although, like “Zeroes” I feel it has lost some of its “oomph”. “Shining Star”, “New York’s In Love” and “Bang Bang” are all given innovative and lively mixes but, you know, I actually still prefer the original album, warts and all, in its dynamic 2018 remastering, something that I feel gives me even more of a new feeling to the album than these alternative versions do. They do sound, to me, just a bit like dance versions of the songs, however interesting and appealing they are.


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