Never Let Me Down Review

by Adam Sweeting / Q Magazine

1987

NEVER LET ME DOWN (EMI): David Bowie’s latest is neither a Heroes nor a Station To Station, but at least it’s not a Tonight. Unfortunately, it never really recovers from its stodgy, cluttered mix.

….The opener, Day-In Day-Out, has clearly been designed to shock and provoke, particularly in conjunction with its banned video, but Never… is frequently informed by a spirit of nostalgia and pastiche. You’d have to be deaf to miss the Eight Days A Week guitar figure in Zeroes, the echoes of Back In The USSR in New York’s In Love, the Don’t Fear The Reaper licks in Bang Bang and even a parody of Elton John in the amyl-powered Too Dizzy. David Bowie himself confessed to your correspondent that in Zeroes, I just wanted to construct a quasi-nostalgic piece that used the software of the ’60s but put it against an ’80s format’. Cue sitar and phasing.

….We don’t have to believe everything he tells us. At his press conference he said Glass Spider (1900) was the album’s pivotal track, but it’s the most fatuous, overblown piece of tosh here. The ungainly hup-two beat of Shining Star is equally unpleasant, exacerbated by Mickey Rourke’s half-hearted rap-over, and ’87 And Cry is mere bluster without ballast.

….Most of the first side is pretty solid stuff, including the Ashes To Ashes is the title track, but Never… needs a couple of strong, hook-filled songs. A Let’s Dance would do nicely, or possibly Hideaway from lggy Pop’s Blah Blah Blah (it’s odd that David Bowie couldn’t find a stronger finale than Iggy Pop’s dim-witted Bang Bang.) One wonders, finally, if this album was really necessary.
Q Rating: **

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