How would you rate "Let's Dance" (1983) by David Bowie?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Haristar, May 29, 2017.

  1. apesfan

    apesfan Forum Resident

    I must look again. The disc on one side had a long version of "Lets Dance" about 8 minutes and the other side "Cat people" or whatever, I'll get back to you if wrong. John M.
  2. Jack Lord

    Jack Lord Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    Always had mixed feelings about Let's Dance.

    On one the one hand, it has some fun songs. It was released close to high school graduation , so like Snchronicty it charts a transitional period in my life. And one cannot begrudge Bowie for trying to stay current.

    OTOH to go from Scary Monsters to this was jarring and an indication that Bowie's classic period had concluded. It seemed that for the first time, Bowie was following trends rather than setting or exploiting them.
  3. GregM

    GregM Forum Resident

    Daddyland, CA
    Well said. MTV drilled the hits into my head: China Girl, Modern Love and the title track. Bowie created a new image and sound for himself, but it was really superficial. There was no depth, like Scary Monsters.
    Jack Lord likes this.
  4. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    Musically, I think the singles are fantastic. The bass and drums intro to "Modern Love" and that slinky bassline in "China Girl" are better than anything else on the radio, either back then or now. And, lyrically, there's a lot more going on than meets the eye, I suspect. I used to sing "China Girl" in karaoke, and I thought the lyrics were so strange - to this day I have no idea what Bowie (or was it Iggy Pop?) was talking about.

    I'd stumble into town
    Just like a sacred cow
    Visions of swastikas in my head
    And plans for everyone
    It's in the white of my eyes
    NightGoatToCairo likes this.
  5. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    The nearly-8-minute version is the album version. It'd have to run longer than 8 minutes to be an "extended version"! :)
  6. bob60

    bob60 Forum Resident

    London UK
    And what about that god awful album sleeve, only Never Let Me Down was worse...
  7. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road

    Bowie covered so much ground it can divide his fan base a lot in topics like this.
    I think lets dance is an essential bowie album.
    The album tracks are every bit as good if not better than the singles. Side two is probably my favourite but i think modern love was one of his best pop songs
    blastfurniss and Jack Lord like this.
  8. gfong

    gfong Forum Resident

    Ontario, Canada
    Really love the album! When it was released I was living in West Germany and it was huge at the dance clubs and very well received.
    It's one of those 80's albums that fit the scene and times for me very well. Still gets major rotation on my turntable. :)
    LeBon Bush likes this.
  9. LeBon Bush

    LeBon Bush Hound of Love

    It just... I don't know, it's missing something in the production for me and as a result, it drags (I knew the soundtrack version first, so it's likely I'm a bit biased ;) )
  10. Jack Lord

    Jack Lord Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    Modern Love is ... a damn good tune. No doubt.

    I think some of us blanched at the sight of people who had previously disdained stuff like Ziggy or Aladdin Sane but were suddenly dancing and grinning to Modern Love. Same tribe that wore Clash Combat Rock t shirts but had no clue about their first album.
    mark winstanley likes this.
  11. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    If the music is worthy, I’ve never been troubled by popularity with the general public. In any event, by the time Let’s Dance, in the US Bowie wasn’t so much disdained (if he ever in fact was), as unknown by the general public and abandoned by a large part of his early 70’s fan base. As great as the run from Low to Scary Monsters was (and I don’t think it’s ever been matched by any artist), in the US, he struggled a bit. None of the albums broke the top 10, and none of the singles broke the American Top 40 (amazingly not even “Heroes”).
    Karnak likes this.
  12. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    For me, it's got the 2 big smash hits, one of which I like OK, the other of which I prefer the original - and "Modern Love," which is catchy, but not more.
    Everything else there is kind of filler, which says to me that his backlog of songs wasn't replenished over the break to wait out his Mainman/RCA obligations.
    In retrospect, Scary Monsters was him cleaning out his "old songs" cupboard, to dazzling effect.
    mishima's dog likes this.
  13. ampmods

    ampmods Forum Resident

    Boston, MA, USA
    I think (and could be very wrong)... that the whole song is about the sort of mental/spiritual collapse of the artist and how he sees his place in the larger picture or the larger world. In other words he knows he is the enemy or is dangerous/damaged/tainted and he is longing for purity or to be loved. The whole thing is framed in this sort of imperialist imagery. The damaged man as fascist... sort of a conquering force that wants to rule the world but self-aware enough to know that won't satisfy his heart.

    These two lines together are kind of funny...
    "Just like a sacred cow..." - what is a sacred cow? It's something that is beyond criticism. Just like a conquering force or fascist would be. AND it's based on the concept of the Hindu religion honoring cows as sacred. (side note: the British were a conquering force in India). In Hinduism the swastika is an ancient symbol representing goodness (and other things). Basically it's also a sacred symbol. So...

    "Visions of swastikas in my head..." makes most listeners immediately think of Nazi Germany. An ancient sacred symbol that has now been turned into the representation of one of the most evil and damaged regimes of history. It plays into both the idea of ancient purity and one of humanities greatest failures all at the same time. The next line transitions into the concept of the fascist conquering force...
    "And plans for everyone."

    I think the 'in the white of my eyes' also has a double-meaning. The whiteness in the eyes could mean clarity (as in sober) or the pure intent (as whiteness has also symbolized purity). But it also could be a reference to the Battle of Bunker Hill where the 'conquering force' was advancing on Bunker Hill during the American Revolutionary War. Since revolutionary forces were low on gun powder/ammunition the order was given to not fire until you see 'the whites of their eyes.' With that in mind the line could be a plea to let him get close which is sort of sexy, distributing and funny!
  14. Jack Lord

    Jack Lord Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    Well sure, that is part of it. People who "embrace" an artist once he releases his most banal material.

    "Fame" hit No 1 in the US for what its worth.
  15. Fishoutofwater

    Fishoutofwater Forum Resident

    I really like the whole album but dont play it often enough!! Horrible album cover in my view
  16. I really wanted to vote "pretty great" - but I had to go with "so-so". My opinion probably alternates between those two. More like "pretty good" to be honest.

    I don't think these polls need a 10-point scale, but it might be nice to have maybe 7 options.
  17. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    The songs the people refer to as "filler" on this album (the remakes/covers "China Girl", "Cat People" and "Criminal World") are terribly underrated - they are all so great musically that I find it hard to fault their inclusion. If you have a full stereo set up, I recommend revisiting the album - non-remasterd original version - the sound is audiophile level and it fills the room. Case in point is the cover of Metro's "Criminal World". From the 00:50 mark, where the first chorus begins, you get this amazing sound, with each instrument crystal clear in the mix. It helps that the musicians have such unique styles - Nile Rodgers' guitar licks, the Clearmountain reverb on Tony Thompson's drums, Carmine Rojas' fantastic strolling bassline and of course, Stevie Ray Vaughn soloing all over the track. To me, this is filler the way "Money" is filler on With the Beatles.

    "What a criminal world, where the boys are like babyfaced girls . . ."

    bonzo59 likes this.
  18. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    Interesting. Never thought about the "whites of my eyes". Bowie uses phrases that are well-known in certain contexts, but you're never sure if he got them from where you think he did - "get me to the church on time".
    ampmods likes this.
  19. blastfurniss

    blastfurniss Forum Resident

    Marion, OH, USA
    The album that made me a Bowie fan. 35 years later and I find I don't play it much in comparison to other records in the Bowie catalog. SRV's guitar playing still dazzles. A good record that suffers in comparison to most of what came before it but shines when compared to most of the output after it. I'm probably in the minority but I prefer this version of Cat People.
    Markyp and BeatlesBop like this.
  20. jmxw

    jmxw Forum Resident

    ithaca, ny
    My opinion is that the vocals on the original sound colder and more distant. On the remake he really sounds like a man putting out fire... with gasoline! [Emotionally speaking, that is]
  21. slipkid

    slipkid Forum Resident

    An album not to my tastes, but Bowie had already lost me forever starting with Young Americans anyway. Diamond Dogs is the last Bowie album that I can listen to.
  22. originalsnuffy

    originalsnuffy Forum Resident

    Upper Midwest, USA
    I was in grad school when this came out. It was great dance music.

    Saw the Serious Moonlight tour and I loved it. The video of that tour has rotten sound, which is a shame.

    I have only seen Bowie live twice; the Stage tour and Serious Moonlight. I regret not having seen him more.

    His death and Tom Petty both really bummed me out.
  23. California Couple

    California Couple dislike us on facebook

    Newport Beach
    Somewhere in the rule book it says, “Singles cannot, by their very definition, be *Filler*.”
  24. Dbstay

    Dbstay Senior Member

    Essential listen. Today I listened to "Without you" on my iphone, a great song. Title track is immense. Ricochet and Criminal World are also fantastic. Huge sound. A classic. Can´t wait to see reissued on vinyl
  25. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    That’s true.

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