David Bowie: “Never Let Me Down” (1987)

This is going to be short, because I am not listening to this album a second time.

I remember buying this album when it first came out, listening to it once, and then never listening to it again. I remember seeing Bowie on the resulting Glass Spider tour after having to practically beg my friend Evan to come with so I wouldn’t be going alone. (Fuck if he didn’t want to go; I went and saw fucking Supertramp with him, so fuck you, Evan.) I remember being baffled by the concert, not knowing most of the songs and not recognizing most of the ones I did know due to the arrangements. I remember Bowie allowing Peter Frampton to integrate a few lines of “Do You Feel Like We Do” into one of the songs.

The production on this album — courtesy of the late David Richards, who did a lot of Queen’s later albums — is so slick and so processed that it’s like drinking a glass of high-fructose corn syrup; it’s the sound of the ’80s collapsing in on itself. Whatever songs are buried underneath these cluttered arrangements and digital reverb make no impression on me whatsoever; there’s no stylistic or thematic through-line connecting any of them. And the rap duet between Bowie and Mickey Rourke on “Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)” is, hands down, the low point of Bowie’s career, at least as I’ve seen through the seventeen albums I’ve listened to so far.

Thankfully, Bowie will follow this up by forming Tin Machine, which should prove as much a palate-cleanser for me as it probably did for him.