“Scary Monsters” by David Bowie - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1980Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s

TJR says

It’s No Game (No. 1)” opens up the set and immediately demands attention due to the wonderfully strange vocal duet; the lyrics are spoken half-calmly/half-frantically by a Japanese lady, Michi Hirota, with Bowie half-singing/half-screaming the English translation. It ends with our tortured front-man wailing “SHUT UP” at the screeching guitarists. This sort of bonkers approach goes down well with me. It leads us into the super-cool “Up The Hill Backwards”, with great rhythms, more screeching guitars, and some neat lines in alt-funk. This fantastic start is maintained on “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”, as Bowie, ever the chameleon, channels the post-punk atmospherics of the day impeccably, with an intriguing set of lyrics about a girl he’ll always love who’s now touched by the madness: “When I looked in her eyes they were blue but nobody home”. It’s all truly superb stuff, and the high continues with the delightful “Ashes To Ashes”, which revisits 1969s “Space Oddity”, and is one of those rare instances where a monster commercial hit chimes agreeably with my sensibilities. Major Tom now seems to have been a space cadet for longer than Jim Kirk in the Starship Enterprise.

Wrapping up the supreme side one, is the New Romantic classic, “Fashion”, which kind of updates 1975s “Golden Years” with the sound of now. He may well be taking the mick out of the New Romantics by referring to them as “the goon squad”, but, like it or lump it, he’s one of them, so this makes me chuckle. Almost inevitably, side two fails to scale these heady heights, but is still kinda neat all the same. “Kingdom Come” is a cover of Tom Verlaine’s song from the year before, and almost lays down a template for Brett Anderson’s Suede who would get to work by the end of the decade. The album finishes where it began, with “It’s No Game (No. 2)” but, alas, there is no sign of Michi this time around. Still, mustn’t grumble, what an excellent start to the decade for David Bowie.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:15] 8.9.png David Bowie - It’s No Game (No. 1) (David Robert Jones) New Wave
A2 [03:13] 9.8.png David Bowie - Up The Hill Backwards (David Robert Jones) New Wave
A3 [05:10] 9.8.png David Bowie - Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (David Robert Jones) New Wave
A4 [04:23] 9.2.png David Bowie - Ashes To Ashes (David Robert Jones) New Wave
A5 [04:46] 9.5.png David Bowie - Fashion (David Robert Jones) New Wave
B1 [06:51] 7.7.png David Bowie - Teenage Wildlife (David Robert Jones) Pop
B2 [03:35] 7.4.png David Bowie - Scream Like A Baby (David Robert Jones) Cerebral Pop
B3 [03:42] 7.0.png David Bowie - Kingdom Come (Tom Verlaine) Cerebral Pop
B4 [04:51] 6.6.png David Bowie - Because You’re Young (David Robert Jones) Pop
B5 [04:22] 8.4.png David Bowie - It’s No Game (No. 2) (David Robert Jones) New Wave

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