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Emilio
(crash course raver)
05/05/04 02:10 PM
Was David really that bad in the 80's? new  

There seems to be a consensus here that David Bowie's worst period was '81-'89. As much as I'm inclined to agree, some of the messages I read seem to disown those years entirely, as if the music David made at the time were truly worthless and his career would have been better without it. That's what I can't agree with. I don't want to sound boastful whenever I mention that I'm a long-time fan, but having been a fan long before "Let's Dance", I was able to witness the importance that album had in giving David's popularity a much needed boost. And the albums that followed it, as well as the singles and soundtracks, were more or less in a similar vein, even if, for better or for worse, they lacked the Nile Rodgers touch.

Before 1983, being a Bowie fan was a lonely business, at least in Brazil. But I had the chance to talk to an American guy in 1981 and when I asked about David Bowie, he said: "Well, he's good, but he had his day." So I don't think it was much different elsewhere. Maybe just a little worse here. There wasn't even a song that I could sing or mention that people would remember or recognize. "Ashes to Ashes" was a minor hit in 1980. "Under Pressure" did slightly better in 1981, but mostly because of Queen (some Brazilian radio stations wouldn't even mention Bowie). The name David Bowie did ring a bell, but people would remember him as "that androgynous guy" and that was it.

Then came "Let's Dance". The title track got A LOT of airplay over here! Then "China Girl" and "Modern Love" followed! All of a sudden, there were "Bowie fans" all around! I wrote it in quotes because it would take some time for those kids to really discover the wealth of material David had recorded in the 70's. They were too busy dancing to those songs, then to "Blue Jean", watching the "Labyrinth" movie and so on. Even a renowned fan like Dara admits to having discovered Bowie through "Let's Dance" and thinking it was his debut album. And he was not the only one. I've heard the same story from other fans. Not to mention the girls who became fans because of "Labyrinth". So the 80's were definitely a breath of fresh air for David in terms of popularity. Initially I had mixed feelings about it, but ultimately I felt proud that my long-time idol was hotter than ever, playing to sold out stadiums in the Serious Moonlight Tour. The Time cover story titled "David Bowie Rockets Onwards" gives a clear idea of how hot David was at the time.

I know 21 years have gone by and many of you discovered David Bowie much later. Still, I don't think David would have as many fans as he does today if he hadn't recorded those popular songs in the 80's. He would probably be like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop or Brian Ferry, with a cult but restricted following. So my opinion is that the 80's were very important in his career and whenever you put that period down, you are disowning the very music that made you aware of Bowie in the first place. As for those who discovered him later on, maybe you would have become fans, maybe you wouldn't, but you can't deny David had a solid basis to build on when he returned to more adventurous albums in the 90's. And his newly discovered popularity certainly helped sell his back catalog when it was reissued.

Oh, and his music in the 80's wasn't that bad. Really. Even "Never Let Me Down" had its moments.



ZiggyMercury
(wild eyed peoploid)
05/05/04 05:58 PM
Re: Was David really that bad in the 80's? new [re: Emilio]  

You're perfectly right.

Of course, there's a difference between Bowie's greatness through our eyes and whether something was good on the whole for him. I didn't discover him until I bought Best of Bowie, but I'm sure that what he's done in the nineties couldn't have been possible without the eighties.

I make no apologies for being fabulous.

Diamond_Dave
(cracked actor)
05/05/04 06:25 PM
Re: Was David really that bad in the 80's? new [re: Emilio]  

Perfect points!

There was a reason he sat out the rest of his RCA contract in 1981-82. He'd spent the best part of the 70's recording some of the most important records, toured his butt off and given birth to the 80's yet he had next to no money in his pocket and wanted to show everyone who the boss was.

Had it not been for his 80's era he would perhaps not be around today? And when you think of what his peers were doing in the 80's?

The 80's is the sole reason why Bowie stands head and shoulders abover Jagger, Dylan and all those other washed up rockers. He knew how to let go and move into another direction where we still see his 60's and 70's peers trying poorly to keep a long dead flame alive.



Please check out my Bowie Bootleg Site...
... http://www.geocities.com/bowieboyz/bowieondisc.html

EJSundayModerator
(acolyte)
05/06/04 03:58 AM
Spearheading the 80s new [re: Emilio]  

"Tonight" was horror by all means. "NLMD" was a little dodgy. But "Let's Dance" was and is defenitely a top record of its era. Those weren't the most brilliant years in music but still: The best pop music at the time came from a man called Bowie. And don't forget the videos.

And I want to believe
In the madness that calls 'now'


martyn
(crash course raver)
05/06/04 07:19 AM
Re: Was David really that bad in the 80's? new [re: Emilio]  

Don't forget that being a Bowie fan was just so damn cool in 1983!
Let's Dance is a great record. Pisses all over Tin Machine.





Nature_Boy
(electric tomato)
05/06/04 07:28 AM
Re: Was David really that bad in the 80's? new [re: Emilio]  

I wouldn't dispute the imortance of his eighties period, but I don't think it has alot of artistic merit compared to his seventies output.

But what if he hadn't "crashed his plane" with Tin Machine, and instead carried on his stadium selling popularity? I don't think I'd be too interested if he was still churning out the pop cheese to be found on Let's Dance, Tonight and Never Let Me Down.

Bowie often cites 84-87 as his nadir, I find it interesting he doesn't include Let's Dance in this, which aside from the singles, contains some absolute drivle.

Its about time I had a signature

AdamAdministrator
(acolyte)
05/06/04 07:55 AM
it was always 1982 new [re: Emilio]  

I think Bowie's 80s work gets unfairly criticised because:

a) people have a tendancy to judge on albums and forget the excellent soundtrack work he did in that decade

b) Scary Monsters is often (incorrectly) considered a '70s album' because of it's clear links back to that decade.

c) the surface gloss of Let's Dance hinders people's views of a rather excellent album of singing, playing, production and songwriting.

d) Blah Blah Blah is better than Never Let Me Down (I'd also argue that Labyrinth is better than Tonight). But only one of those two records is credited to the artist known as David Bowie.

What I tried to do once was offer this comparison between 80s and 90s Bowie which aimed at gaining some accurate opinion on the matter. Anyway, on a head to head basis, the decades were split by a factor of 3 against 3.


Bowie in Australia 2004 | Join the Community

Dara
(acolyte)
05/06/04 08:20 AM
Re: Was David really that bad in the 80's? [re: Emilio]  

In reply to:

But I had the chance to talk to an American guy in 1981 and when I asked about David Bowie, he said: "Well, he's good, but he had his day." So I don't think it was much different elsewhere.


Maybe not outside Europe (or at least the UK), but I think it was different in the UK. From a commercial point of view in the UK, Ziggy was Bowie's breakthrough, he rode the crest of a wave for a couple of years, then started going into commercial decline circa Diamond Dogs. This continued more or less until Lodger, which at least showed signs of reviving his commercial fortunes, but Scary Monsters was a number one album (his first in 6 years) that spawned 4 hit singles, one of them at #1 (his first ever #1 single from the current album).

He then sat out the rest of his RCA contract, but his commercial stock was still clearly very high, as proven by the fact that RCA found it worthwhile to keep flogging compilations, and "minor" singles like Baal and Cat People made the top 40 with no video or promotion. Contrast that with Bowie's difficulties getting singles into the upper echelons of the charts round the mid 90s even with an expensive video and a big promo push.

In reply to:

Even a renowned fan like Dara admits to having discovered Bowie through "Let's Dance" and thinking it was his debut album.


True. I was a kid from BallyMacPodunk at the time.

The thing Let's Dance did, I think, was blow wide open the idea of who could be a Bowie fan. You no longer had to be part of a small self-appointed elite, centred on major cities in Europe and the US, very fashion conscious etc. etc. Some people will never forgive Bowie for that, which I think is the main reason his 80s output gets such stick. As a group, Bowie fans are drama queens, and everything has to be exaggerated. His lows and his highs.

So yeah, NLMD is not one of his best albums, and Blah Blah Blah is a much better album, but the notion it's the worst album of all time (or one of the worst) doesn't stand up to serious scrutiny (or repeated listenings to most of Stock Aiken and Watrerman's output). I'd say that NLMD is still better than, say, 90% of the albums released that year. Now that represents a comedown for a man who, in the words of one Q writer, "used to make the best records in the world in the 70s", but it's hardly rock bottom.

Slan libh,

Dara

So Levi's are called Levi's because the guy's name was Levi Strauss? Why didn't they call them strousers? - Fiona O'Kearney 6/5/2004

diamondogz74
(acolyte)
05/06/04 09:55 AM
Utter Nonsense [re: EJSunday]  

In reply to:

"Tonight" was horror by all means. "NLMD" was a little dodgy. But "Let's Dance" was and is defenitely a top record of its era. Those weren't the most brilliant years in music but still: The best pop music at the time came from a man called Bowie. And don't forget the videos.


This is your opinion, others may differ

I for one think "Tonight" was a beautiful album, as was NLMD ( well almost ),"Lets Dance" IMO was awful pop music.

So according to your opinion, the videos for "Lets Dance" and "China Girl" were good eh? what about the video's from "Tonight" and NLMD ? much more the Bowie video we've come to know and love, than those awful ones off "Lets Dance" IMO


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GodlessWonder
(kook)
05/06/04 12:45 PM
Re: Utter Nonsense [re: diamondogz74]  

Right, before I begin, nothing pisses me off more than the following:

In reply to:

This is your opinion, others may differ




Of course it's their opinion what we do here is debate, discuss and argue our points. Have you ever argued against someone up till the point they go - "Well, that's your opinion". It's really frustrating, hugely dismissive and will score you no brownie points.

Anyway, Bowie's 80s period was never really that bad, yeah Tonight was perhaps not an error, but sheer unforgivable laziness in places, and NLMD is actually a real gem - for me more so thatn Let's Dance.

But I actually thought that Scary Monsters was 1979, while the singles came out in 1980. I could be wrong I guess.

" I'm looking for backing for an unauthorized auto-biography that I am writing. Hopefully, this will sell in such huge numbers that I will be able to sue myself for an extraordinary amount of money"- David Bowie


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