Friday, February 10, 2012

TONIGHT - David Bowie

YEAR: 1984


TRACK LISTING: Loving the Alien, Don't Look Down, God Only Knows, Tonight, Neighbourhood Threat, Blue Jean, Tumble and Twirl, I Keep Forgettin', Dancing with the Big Boys

BONUS TRACKS: (the 1995 Virgin cd reissue contained 3 bonus tracks of contemporary singles): This Is Not America from the film "THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN"), As the World Falls Down (from the film "LABYRINTH"), Absolute Beginners (from the film "ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS")

IMPRESSIONS: 80s week continues with what many (including Bowie himself) consider one of the Thin White Duke's lesser efforts. And while he's setting no worlds on fire here, I think it compares favourably with his previous LET'S DANCE album which is just as commercial and safe as TONIGHT. Bowie wrote and recorded this album right after his phenomenally successful "Serious Moonlight" World Tour supporting the LET'S DANCE album. Far from rushed, TONIGHT was actually laboured over for 5 weeks (as opposed to only 3 weeks to create LET'S DANCE). Bowie retains the Borneo Horns which made such an impact on the earlier album and the singer in fact plays no instruments on TONIGHT; leaving this to his band. I remember at the time the first single "Blue Jean" was released (in a 14 minute video directed by Julien Temple a la Michael Jackson's "Thriller"), my mother said "Bowie's back". That is, the old Bowie after the commercial pop persona of the LET'S DANCE era. Frankly, there is a lot more experimentation (albeit minimal) on TONIGHT than there was on LET'S DANCE. My mother and I liked both albums but let's get the facts straight here. If there was a "sell out" album here (and I don't agree with that term concerning either of these albums) it would be commercial blockbuster LET'S DANCE and not the quirky TONIGHT. Now that the rant is out of the way, the actual album TONIGHT contains several covers (Iggy Pop's "Neighbourhood Threat" and "Tonight", the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows", Lieber & Stoller's "I Keep Forgettin'") and one of my favourite Bowie songs ("Loving the Alien"). Bowie himself hated how "Neighbourhood Threat" came out; he described it as "too tight" and the band was simply not the right one to bring off the tune; however, I still like it's frenetic fractured propulsion. Bowie expertly slows down the Beach Boys tune and gives the definitive rendition, I think. Also, Bowie's duet with Tina Turner on the title track is sublime. So come on, all those who knock Bowie's TONIGHT album; like Paul McCartney said to all the Beatles' "White Album" naysayers: "Shut the fuck up! It's the Beatles' White Album"! Well, I could say the same about Bowie's TONIGHT: it's a nice little album so leave it alone and enjoy it, you bastards!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Loving the Alien, Don't Look Down, God Only Knows, Tonight, Neighbourhood Threat, Blue Jean, I Keep Forgettin', This Is Not America, As the World Falls Down

GUEST ARTISTS: Tina Turner (vocals on "Tonight"), Iggy Pop (vocals on "Dancing with the Big Boys"), The Borneo Horns (brass), Pat Metheny (instrumentation on "This Is Not America")

FACT SHEET: TONIGHT is David Bowie's 16th album. The title track duet with Tina Turner found Bowie eliminating Iggy Pop's original spoken introduction (Iggy approved of the changes) and featured Bowie & Turner singing "face-to-face" live in the studio. Iggy Pop spent a lot of time in the studio during the recording of TONIGHT; in his own words "I worked extensively on that album. There's a lot more work there than is reflected in just the simple co-writing credit for two songs and some of the old stuff."

No comments:

Post a Comment