Let's Dance (David Bowie album)
|Studio album by David Bowie|
|Released||14 April 1983|
|Studio||Power Station, Manhattan, New York City|
|David Bowie chronology|
|Singles from Let's Dance|
Let's Dance is the fifteenth studio album by David Bowie. It was originally released in April 1983, three years after his previous album, Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). Co-produced by Chic's Nile Rodgers, the album contains three of his most successful singles; the title track, "Let's Dance", which reached No. 1 in the UK, US and various other countries, as well as "Modern Love" and "China Girl", which both reached No. 2 in the UK. "China Girl" was a new version of a song which Bowie had co-written with Iggy Pop for the latter's 1977 album The Idiot. It also contains a re-recorded version of the song "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)", which had been a minor hit for Bowie a year earlier.
Let's Dance was nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy Award in 1984 but lost to Michael Jackson's Thriller. It has sold 10.7 million copies worldwide, making it Bowie's best-selling album. It is Bowie's eighteenth official album release since his debut in 1967, including two live albums, one covers album (Pin Ups, 1973), and a collaboration with the Philadelphia Orchestra (1977). At one point Bowie described the album as "a rediscovery of white-English-ex-art-school-student-meets-black-American-funk, a refocusing of Young Americans". Let's Dance was also a stepping stone for the career of the Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, who played on it. The album was released as a limited edition picture disc in 1983.
Critical reviews for Let's Dance as an album have been mixed, although Rolling Stone later described it as "the conclusion of arguably the greatest 14-year run in rock history". Bowie felt he had to continue to pander to the new mass audience he acquired with the album, which led to him releasing two further solo albums in 1984 and 1987 which, despite their relative commercial success, did not sell as well as Let's Dance, were poorly received by critics at the time and subsequently dismissed by Bowie himself as his "Phil Collins years". Bowie would form the hard rock and grunge-predecessor band Tin Machine in 1989 in an effort to rejuvenate himself artistically.
David Bowie had planned to use producer Tony Visconti on the album, as the two had worked together on Bowie's previous four studio albums. However, he chose Nile Rodgers for the project, a move that came as a surprise to Visconti, who had set time aside to work on Let's Dance. Visconti called [Bowie's personal assistant] Coco and she said: "Well, you might as well know – he's been in the studio for the past two weeks with someone else. It's working out well and we won't be needing you. He's very sorry." The move damaged the two men's relationship and Visconti did not work with Bowie again for nearly 20 years (until 2002's Heathen). Rodgers later recalled that Bowie approached him to produce his album so that Bowie could have hit singles. Rodgers reported that Bowie came into his apartment one day and showed him a photograph of Little Richard in a red suit getting into a bright red Cadillac, saying "Nile, darling, that's what I want my album to sound like."
Bowie, having left RCA Records, had just signed with EMI Records for a reported $17.5 million and was working with Rodgers to release a "commercially buoyant" album that was described as "original party-funk cum big bass drum sound greater than the sum of its influences." The album's influences were described as Louis Jordan, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Bill Doggett, Earl Bostic and James Brown. Bowie spent three days making demos for the album in New York before cutting the album, a rarity for Bowie who, for the previous few albums, usually showed up with little more than "a few ideas." Despite this, the album "was recorded, start to finish, including mixing, in 17 days," according to Rodgers.
Stevie Ray Vaughan met Bowie at the 1982 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. After Vaughan's performance, Bowie was so impressed with the guitarist he later said "[he] completely floored me. I probably hadn't been so gung-ho about a guitar player since seeing Jeff Beck with his band the Tridents." Of Bowie, Vaughan said, "to tell you the truth, I was not very familiar with David's music when he asked me to play on the sessions. ... David and I talked for hours and hours about our (Double Trouble's) music, about funky Texas blues and its roots – I was amazed at how interested he was. At Montreux, he said something about being in touch and then tracked me down in California, months and months later." In a contemporary interview, Vaughan described the recording sessions for the album:
David Bowie is real easy to work with. He knows what he's doing in the studio and he doesn't mess around. He comes right in and goes to work. Most of the time, David did the vocals and then I played my parts. A lot of the time, he just wanted me to cut loose. He'd give his opinion on the stuff he liked and the stuff that needed work. Almost everything was cut in one or two takes. I think there was only one thing that needed three takes.
Unusually, Bowie played no instruments on the album. "I don't play a damned thing. This was a singer's album."
A few years later, Bowie discussed his feelings on the track "Ricochet" (which Musician magazine called an "incendiary ballroom raveup") from this album:
I thought it was a great song, and the beat wasn't quite right. It didn't roll the way it should have, the syncopation was wrong. It had an ungainly gait; it should have flowed. ... Nile [Rodgers] did his own thing to it, but it wasn't quite what I'd had in mind when I wrote the thing.
Bowie later described the title track the same way: the original demo was "totally different" from the way that Nile arranged it. Bowie played an early demo of the song for Nile Rodgers on a 12-string guitar with only 6 strings strung, and said to Nile, "Nile darling, I think I have a song which feels like it's a hit." Nile then took the chords (which he said "felt folksy") and helped craft them into the version used in the final production of the song.
Long-time collaborator Carlos Alomar, who had worked with Bowie since the mid-1970s and would continue to work with Bowie into the mid-1990s, has claimed was offered an "embarrassing" fee to play on the album and refused to do so. He also said (when working on Bowie's follow-up album, Tonight) that he did not play on Let's Dance because Bowie only gave him two weeks' notice and he was already booked with other work; however, Alomar did play on the accompanying tour.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Village Voice||B|
The album was seen as a commercial and critical success by professional critics, though opinions varied on the artistic content; while one reviewer called it "Bowie at his best", another felt it "perfunctory" and "pointless". In a piece on Bowie for Time in July 1983, Jay Cocks described the album as "unabashedly commercial, melodically alliterative and lyrically smart at the same time". Robert Christgau felt that it had a "perfunctory professional surface", and that other than "Modern Love", which was "interesting", the album was "pleasantly pointless". Ken Tucker, in a review for Rolling Stone, felt the album sounded great, with an intelligent simplicity and a "surface beauty", but that the album as a whole was "thin and niggling", other than "Modern Love," "Without You" and "Shake It", which offered "some of the most daring songwriting of Bowie's career".
In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine felt that the album's three hit singles were catchy yet distinctive pop songs, while the rest of the album was "unremarkable plastic soul" indicative of Bowie "entering a songwriting slump". Ed Power of the Irish Examiner wrote that Bowie "pleaded shamelessly for the love of the mass market" with the album. He continued "... the title track was a decent chunk of funk-rock and Bowie did not embarrass himself on the single 'China Girl'. Otherwise, the record had a great deal in common with Wham! and Phil Collins." The BBC's David Quantick praised the "perfect" combination of Bowie and Rodgers on the title track, the "sweet, romantic" rendition of "China Girl" and highlighted "Criminal World" as "one of the best songs". He stated "Let's Dance may have had a ground-breaking sound and a popularity that Bowie clearly ached for, but it's often a mundane album, as songs like 'Ricochet' and 'Shake It' mark time". He said the album was "literally the template for 80s Bowie – blonde, suited and smiling".
Writing for The Guardian in 2014, Jeremy Allen stated that Let's Dance had "spent time in the wilderness, rejected by many because of its 80s production values", but he added that "a reappraisal was all but inevitable and has coincided with a renaissance in Rodgers' career and an outpouring of love for the unprecedentedly successful producer/guitarist." The chief rock and pop critic of The Guardian, Alexis Petridis, acknowledged in his retrospective review of Bowie's career in 2016 that Let's Dance "had its moments", unlike its successor, Tonight.
In 1989, the album was ranked number 83 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". In 2013, NME ranked Let's Dance at number 296 in its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Although Bowie had charged producer Nile Rodgers with making hits for him, Bowie would later say "at the time, Let's Dance was not mainstream. It was virtually a new kind of hybrid, using blues-rock guitar against a dance format. There wasn't anything else that really quite sounded like that at the time. So it only seems commercial in hindsight because it sold so many [copies]. It was great in its way, but it put me in a real corner in that it fucked with my integrity." Bowie recalled, "[It] was a good record, but it was only meant as a one-off project. I had every intention of continuing to do some unusual material after that. But the success of that record really forced me, in a way, to continue the beast. It was my own doing, of course, but I felt, after a few years, that I had gotten stuck."
Bowie would later state that the success of the album caused him to hit a creative low point in his career which lasted the next few years. "I remember looking out over these waves of people [who were coming to hear this record played live] and thinking, 'I wonder how many Velvet Underground albums these people have in their record collections?' I suddenly felt very apart from my audience. And it was depressing, because I didn't know what they wanted." After his follow-up albums Tonight (1984) and Never Let Me Down (1987) were critically dismissed, Bowie formed the grunge-precursor band Tin Machine in an effort to regain his artistic vision.
All songs written by David Bowie, except where noted.
|2.||"China Girl" (originally by Iggy Pop from The Idiot, 1977)||
|6.||"Criminal World" (originally by Metro from Metro, 1977)||4:25|
|7.||"Cat People (Putting Out Fire)"||
In 1998 there was a reissue in the UK which was similar to the 1995 re-release but did not include the bonus track.
The Canadian version of the 1999 EMI release includes a data track, so that when the CD is loaded on a Windows PC, the user is presented with a promotion of internet access services and other premium content from the davidbowie.com website. This marks one of the earliest attempts by a mainstream artist to combine internet and normal promotion and distribution methods.
Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.
- David Bowie – lead vocals; horn arrangements
- Nile Rodgers – guitar; horn arrangements
- Stevie Ray Vaughan – lead guitar
- Carmine Rojas – bass guitar
- Omar Hakim – drums
- Tony Thompson – drums
- Rob Sabino – keyboards
- Stan Harrison – tenor saxophone; flute
- Robert Aaron – tenor saxophone
- Steve Elson – baritone saxophone; flute
- Mac Gollehon – trumpet
- Sammy Figueroa – percussion
- Frank Simms – backing vocals
- George Simms – backing vocals
- David Spinner – backing vocals
- Bernard Edwards – bass guitar on "Without You"
- Production team
- David Bowie – producer; engineer; mixing
- Nile Rodgers – producer; engineer; mixing
- Bob Clearmountain – engineer; mixing
- Bob Ludwig – mastering
Charts and certifications
Sales and certifications
|Canada (Music Canada)||5× Platinum||500,000^|
|Japan (Oricon Charts)||302,500|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||360,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
- Timothy, White (May 1983), "David Bowie Interview", Musician magazine (55): 52–66, 122
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Let's Dance – David Bowie". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "David Bowie – Black Tie White Noise". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- Kot, Greg (11 January 2016). "David Bowie: Highlights from the singer's discography". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
- David Bowie: Infomania, retrieved 12 January 2016
- "David Bowie Discography". allmusic.com.
- Cohen, Scott (September 1991), "David Bowie Interview", Details magazine: 86–97
- Greene, Andy (11 August 2014). "20 Insanely Great David Bowie Songs Only Hardcore Fans Know". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- Gill, Andy (11 January 2016). "David Bowie: How the outsider's outsider proved himself far braver than the rock'n'roll mainstream". The Independent. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- David Currie, ed. (1985), David Bowie: The Starzone Interviews, England: Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-0685-8
- Preston, Andrew, "David Bowie's biggest fans reveal all", Daily Mail, London, retrieved 20 May 2013
- Nika, Colleen. "Nile Rodgers' collaborative milestones". Redbull. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- Fricke, David (December 1984), "David Bowie Interview", Musician magazine (74): 46–56
- "Nile Rodgers interviewed by Peter Paphides". Twentyfirstcenturymusic.blogspot.com. 10 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Nixon, Bruce (June 1983). "Playing the Blues for Bowie". Record. 2 (8): 21.
- Isler, Scott (1987), "David Bowie Opens Up – A Little", Musician magazine: 64
- Interview with Craig Bromberg for Smart magazine, 1990
- Edwards, Henry (1987), "The Return of the Put-Together Man", Spin magazine, 2 (12): 56–60
- Wolk, Douglas (July 2007). "David Bowie Part 2: The 1980s and Beyond". Blender (48).
- Kot, Greg (10 June 1990). "Bowie's Many Faces Are Profiled On Compact Disc". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
- "David Bowie: Let's Dance". Q (112): 146. January 1996.
- Tucker, Ken (26 May 1983). "Let's Dance". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
- Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 97–99. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- Bush, Steve (14–27 April 1983). "David Bowie: Let's Dance". Smash Hits: 25.
- Christgau, Robert (31 May 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
- Jay Cocks (18 July 1983). "David Bowie Rockets Onward". Time.
- Power, Ed (1 March 2013). "David Bowie's return to the golden years?". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- Quantick, David. "David Bowie Let's Dance Review". BBC. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- Allen, Jeremy (3 December 2014). "David Bowie: 10 of the best". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- Petridis, Alexis (11 January 2016). "David Bowie: the man who thrilled the world". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
- "100 BEST ALBUMS OF THE EIGHTIES". Rolling Stone.
- "Rocklist.net....NME: The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time : October 2013".
- Grow, Kory (14 April 2016). "How David Bowie, Nile Rodgers Made 'Let's Dance' a Hit". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- Pond, Steve (March 1997), "Beyond Bowie", Live! magazine: 38–41, 93
- Fricke, David (19 October 1995), "Art Crime", Rolling Stone magazine, no. 719, p. 148
- Mary Campbell for the Associated Press, 6 August 1993
- Barton, David (8 June 1989), "David Bowie puts career on the line", Journal-American, p. D5
- Hendrickson, Mark (November 1995), David Bowie: Outside Looking in, retrieved 1 August 2013
- Let's Dance liner notes. EMI Records. 1983.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "David Bowie – Let's Dance – austriancharts.at" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 38, No. 12" (PHP). RPM. 21 May 1983. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "dutchcharts.nl David Bowie – Let's Dance" (ASP). dutchcharts.nl. MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste". infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2014. Note: user must select 'David BOWIE' from drop-down.
- "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1983" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
- "charts.org.nz David Bowie – Let's Dance" (ASP). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "norwegiancharts.com David Bowie – Let's Dance" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- "swedishcharts.com David Bowie – Let's Dance" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "David Bowie > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "allmusic ((( Let's Dance > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- "Album Search: David Bowie – Let's Dance" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "Austriancharts.at – Jahreshitparade 1983". Hung Medien. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1983". RPM. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1983" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "Les Albums (CD) de 1983 par InfoDisc" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
- (German) Top 100 AlbumJahrescharts – 1983 at the Wayback Machine (archived May 9, 2015[Date mismatch]). Offiziellecharts.de. GfK Entertainment.
- 年間アルバムヒットチャート 1983年（昭和58年） [Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1983] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Everyhit.com UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Billboard BIZ: Top Pop Albums of 1983". billboard.biz. Retrieved 1 May 2014.[dead link]
- "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1984". RPM. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "Billboard BIZ: Top Pop Albums of 1984". billboard.biz. Retrieved 1 May 2014.[dead link]
- "Canadian album certifications – David Bowie – Let's Dance". Music Canada. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- "David Bowie" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- "French album certifications – David Bowie – Let's Dance" (in French). InfoDisc. Select DAVID BOWIE and click OK
- "Les Albums Platine :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- "Dutch album certifications – David Bowie – Let's Dance" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- "Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1979–1990". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano.
- "British album certifications – David Bowie – Let's Dance". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 21 January 2014. Enter Let's Dance in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
- "British album certifications – David Bowie – Let's Dance". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Let's Dance in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
- "American album certifications – David Bowie – Let's Dance". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 25 May 2012. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH