Monday, July 1, 2013

let's dance

David Bowie shook loose from his former label and strutted and swayed onto the world stage with the slick and stylish funk rock synthesis of this pure pop promenade.   After the critical and commercial success of 'Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)'Bowie took a hiatus from recording, starting a starring run in a stage production of 'The Elephant Man' to rave reviews.    He recorded 'Under Pressure' with Queen and had another massive hit.  The soundtrack EP of his BBC production of Bertolt Brecht’s 'Baal' became his final release with RCA Records.  
He recorded the theme song to the film 'Cat People' with Georgio Moroder and would also star in two films,  'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence' and  'The Hunger'

He signed a lucrative deal with EMI and began recording demos for what would become 'Let's Dance'.   Bowie says the sound was influenced by early R&B:    "What happened was that over the last year or so, as I've been doing filming, going to places like the South Pacific, I took tapes to listen to, not really knowing if there'd be much local radio, or indeed what the music was like over there anyway. I realized that in what I'd picked out, I'd gone back twenty or more years to stuff that meant a lot to me when I first started playing saxophone; there was a lot of Johnny Otis, Red Prysock, that organic rock 'n' roll orchestra sound. So I think there's a degree of those other influences on the new LP. It certainly doesn't sound anything like a revival record." 

Rather than work with Toni Visconti, who had produced his previous five albums, Bowie brought in Nile Rodgers who had been in the band Chic who helped him assemble a whole new band:    "We started talking about old blues and rhythm & blues stuff and found we'd both had the same artists as strong influences. I guess that triggered me off thinking it might be fun working with him. I admired some of his work in the areas of his bass sounds and drum ideas; he was very instrumental in pulling those sections together on the album. I felt that the kind of European influences I've has, it might be interesting to see what could result from our working together...The guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughn, denotes where I was coming from in terms of putting the band together. He's from Austin, Texas! Plays in a blues band down thar! When I saw him a year ago or so at the Montreux Jazz Festival, his trio was the support act for somebody like Muddy Waters. Stevie is just dynamite-he thinks Jimmy Page is a modernist! Stevie's back there with Albert King. He's the wiz kid.  Also, I wanted to have a little relief from the guys that I usually work with. I wanted to try people that I'd never worked with before, so that I couldn't predict how they were going to play. They didn't have much idea of how I worked in the studio. And as I hadn't recorded in two years, it seemed perfectly natural 'round about now to try new people. Nile picked up most of the rest of the band for me: Omar Hakim from Weather Report; Carmine Rojas from Nona Hendryx's band; Stevie and Nile played guitar, and that was the nucleus...I like the horns-but they're not an overly predominant feature on every track. It's kind of a mixed bag, really. And-not for any elitist reason-(laughter) there are no synthesizers on it. I really wanted that same positive optimistic rock 'n' roll big band sound that was very impressionistic for me back when. It's got a hard cut, very high on treble-it sears through."

With the help of stylish videos that became staples on MTV, 'Let's Dance' became the biggest hit of Bowie's career, going to number seventeen in Switzerland; four in the US; two in Austria and Germany; and number one in Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the UK.  Bowie would later consider:    "I went mainstream in a major way with the song 'Let's Dance'. I pandered to that in my next few albums, and what I found I had done was put a box around myself. It was very hard for people to see me as anything other than the person in the suit who did 'Let's Dance', and it was driving me mad—because it took all my passion for experimenting away."

'Let's Dance' became a worldwide smash hit, topping charts around the world.  In the UK, it became his third number one in as many years.

'China Girl' was co-written with Iggy Pop who recorded the song on his album 'The Idiot'which was produced by Bowie.  It was a number one hit for Bowie in Switzerland and stumbled into the top ten around the globe. 

'Modern Love' continued the phenomenon of 'Let's Dance', becoming another smash hit.

'Cat People' was rerecorded for 'Let's Dance'.  The original version from the film went to number one in Norway and Sweden.

The 'Serious Moonlight Tour' was one of the most successful tours of its time.

'Let's Dance'

full album:

All songs written by David Bowie, except where noted.

Side one
1. "Modern Love"   4:46
2. "China Girl" (Bowie, Pop)  5:32
3. "Let's Dance"   7:37
4. "Without You"   3:08
Side two
5. "Ricochet"   5:14
6. "Criminal World"  (Peter Godwin, Duncan Browne, Sean Lyons)  4:25
7. "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (Bowie / Giorgio Moroder) 5:09
8. "Shake It"   3:49

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