Never Let Me Down

David Bowie

EMI, 1987

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


As the last David Bowie album to go gold, Never Let Me Down should also be remembered as the best album he released in the ‘80s. It is abundantly clear that VH1 Classic adores this Bowie release, as they show no less than three video clips from this album in steady rotation. Certainly, this set is much more cohesive than its predecessor, Tonight, and contains an instantly appealing set of ten tunes. If ever there was an album that deserves a second listen from the mainstream, it’s this one.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

From the somewhat repetitious, yet brash and brassy opener “Day-In, Day-Out,” we have the shiny and sturdy “Time Will Crawl” and the song that lured me to the nearest record store to seek out his album, “Never Let Me Down.” On the latter track, Bowie turns in his most poignant and charming performance since “China Girl.” And then, just when you think it can’t get any better, he churns out a couple of stunners in the form of the upbeat and experimental “Zeroes” and “Glass Spider.” Middle-Eastern dance music and spoken word never sounded so suspenseful!

Unfortunately, the manic and messy “Shining Star” doesn’t quite measure up to the high standard set by the first half of the album, though the infectious “New York’s In Love” more than makes up for it. I think what I appreciate about Never Let Me Down is in how fun, open and absolutely rocking most of the material is. He was clearly in the best mindset and it’s that adventurous, positive attitude that shines through on every single track, making its lack of public recognition all the more unfortunate. Even lesser, more obscure tracks like “Beat Of Your Drum” and “87 And Cry” have their noteworthy moments and should by no means be considered filler. The closing Iggy Pop-penned “Bang Bang” is something of an insubstantial afterthought, but one bad cut out of ten is still hella good.

I would be hard pressed to decide whether Never Let Me Down is better than Let’s Dance, though to an ‘80s fanatic like myself, they are both equally compelling. Perhaps in time I will be won over by David Bowie’s earlier stuff and opt to study his many other incarnations over the course of his enduring music career. In the quick-change image department, no one holds a candle to Bowie. No, not even you, Madonna.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI, and is used for informational purposes only.