Tuesday, March 11, 2008

David Bowie - Modern Love

(EMI, 1983)

With his move to EMI, David Bowie electrified the world – again! – by taking on the exciting new persona that he would maintain for more than a decade to come, “The Thin White Guy Who Releases Shitty Albums.” Maybe he wanted to prove something right out the gate to his new label (and his old one) (and himself?), because the Let’s Dance singles are as crass a grab for the mainstream, the charts, and the big bucks as you’re gonna hear: peppy, unchallenging, synthesizers up the wazoo, awful sax solos, rough edges all smoothed away and coated with production gloss… Yeesh. Take the blandest of his earlier rock ’n’ roll efforts, dress them up in expensive state-of-the-’80s studio nonsense (those fake-sounding drums…!!), and this is the result. It’s impossible to deny that “Modern Love” is catchy, but it’s still a little sad to see the difficult late-’70s Bowie – frustrating as he could be – disappear into those designer suits. Even his failures a few years prior were always at least identifiably HIM, which can’t be said for this numbingly straightforward bit of radio pop. He even pulls the ultimate cop-out with a live version of the A-side on the flip that sounds IDENTICAL TO THE STUDIO RECORDING. Except with cheering, of course. Oh boy. It serves to prove nothing more than how soullessly reproducible and plastic this material is. Thumbs down.

1 comment:

Donald Brown said...

Well, that's a pretty good diatribe for why I hate the '80s, because the Thin White Stooge isn't the only one getting the "make-over" of the studio process in the day. It's everywhere; and actually, because Bowie is so mercurial and because he already tanked with "Young Americans," his is by far not the worst '80s-ized condition. "Modern Love" is actually fun -- even when I listen to the Singles collection, that breathless chorus still gets my attention. And the opening murmur: "I don't want to go out / I want to stay in / get things done" always brings a smile...