David Bowie - Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
In many ways the album marks a watershed in Bowie's career. The experimental and avant-garde elements which had driven Bowie's work throughout the mid-seventies were still there, but there was a heavy admixture of pop in this. So much so that in many cases it has come to be regarded as one of the progenitors of the eighties synth pop and new romantics. This combining of two distinct forces sometimes works, as on "Ashes to Ashes" and at others it fails miserably such as on "Because You're Young".
Part of the reason for this is that he had managed to move away from the influence of Brian Eno. While the songs on this album were often in the same vein as those on its predecessor, Lodger, he had been able to move more freely in his own chosen directions once Eno had gone. Now I have never been a fan of Brian Eno and consider that many of the people who had worked with him had been either overawed by his reputation or stultified by his definitions and preconceptions of how music should sound. For that reason, I generally did not go into rapture over Bowie in his Eno phase ("Heroes" excepted) and welcomed the departure of the man from Bowie's horizon.
The result is a peculiar album about with which I sometimes struggle to come to any sort of feeling for. In many ways, this is right to be seen as the precursor of the new romantics. Now I am no fan of that genre - it denied the post punks their rightful place in the sun for one thing. It also, more critically, was an ultimately successful bid by record executives, caught on the hop by punk, to reclaim their dominance over the decision-making process over what people listen to. After all, allowing people to decide for themselves what they would listen to (as the punks had done) was not commercially acceptable. What do people know? For a start, we people are too stupid and ignorant to be allowed any influence at all over important commercial decisions like what the market tells us we want.
But I digress. Anyone who has read any of my reviews or whatever will know that I view the influence of the record executives on modern popular music and both obscene and malignant. But I STILL digress.
Back then to this album. Well Bowie showed that he was still the master of the character pop artist. He still showed that he was light years ahead of the rest of the music world when it came to pushing the boundaries of pop music. He still showed that he was almost the walking talking definition of avant-garde in popular music. But it is an artist in transition: transition from something which established his reputation to something which damn near destroyed it. When all is said and done, and I have to come to a decision, I decide I love this album and rate it as Bowie's best after Aladdin Sane.
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on 2011-02-22 CharlesMartel Said:
Some tout this as the last great Bowie release. While I still like "Let's Dance" I can see why that opinion holds sway. This was the album Bowie hoped would finally bury Ziggy and Major Tom.