Scary Monsters Review (1989 CD re-issue)

by Martin Aston / Q Magazine

1990

After the Brian Eno-assisted trilogy of Low, Heroes and Lodger, 1980’s Scary Monsters proved David Bowie could survive without the former’s studious ingenuity while retaining a futurist brief and injecting a more essentially rock’n’pop brief, which paid off greater commercial dividends. A more confrontational, audacious set than Lodger, the success rate is constant-It’s No Game’s jarring, visceral rock, Up The Hill Backwards‘ off-kilter poppiness, the title track’s helter-skeltery spin, Ashes To Ashes‘ divine dream-pop melancholy (and David Bowie’s second Number 1) and Fashion’s merciless funk riffing. Throughout, Bowie is in superb voice, and lyrically candid and increasingly politicised to boot. The drawback is the extra tracks-only one is new, a surprisingly mild and frankly unfunky restoration of Panic In Detroit from 1979, although the instrumental prettiness of the 1980 Japanese-only single Crystal Japan makes for a tranquil conclusion.
Q Rating: ****

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