David Bowie – Tonight (1984)

Believing the strangest things

Me and my buddy Mr. Magic did a very small Swedish speaking podcast two years ago where we discussed Bowie’s albums. In the very last episode we ranked Bowie’s all albums from 28 up to number One. The bottom five in my list was a dog fight between “Tonight” and the two Tin Machine albums, “Pin ups” and the first album “David Bowie” from 1967.

With that I must say that this album is not great. “Tonight” was released the year after the smash hit “Let’s dance”. The reason for the record company man was of course to pull more gold out of the mine. For Bowie it seems to have been an after-thought from the very beginning. He ditched Nile Rodgers as the producer, and the album looks like a support project for his friend Iggy Pop who ran low on cash at the time.

Bowie wrote two new songs with Iggy for the album (Tumble and twirl and Dancing with the new boys), and added three old Iggy songs from the seventies as well as two other covers, one Beach Boys and a Leiber-Stoller song. “All” the rest were a mere two new songs (Loving the alien and Blue Jean). This is not nearly enough I would say.

Besides the low output of new and fresh material, the production of the album is extremely weak. It reeks of bad eighties choices of style, instruments, and mixing. And many of the songs are done as reggae!!! Hate is a strong word when it comes to reviewing music, so let’s say I reall,y really don’t like reggae.

In the end only three of the new songs are interesting. “Blue Jean” has a funny music video that is so dated you can only smile with the look of remeberance in your eyes. The best thing with it may be David’s make up. If you are to check it out, don’t miss to also have a look at the 20 minutes short film around the song directed by Julien Temple.

“Dancing with the big boys” is like an early song from the “Never let me dow”-sessions. It is bombastic and fun in a way, but it’s not among Bowie’s classics. “Loving the alien” is better. Reminds me about some of his work for soundtracks like “Absolute beginners”.

Of the rest, most of them are unbearable to me. Sure Bowie gives a master class in singing on the Beach Boys cover “God only knows” but I question the need for this song and this album overall. One part new stuff, one part covers and one part reggae versions of old Iggy Pop songs. Crazy. Like a “Kinder Surprise”. Maybe I can give him that the album is eclectic at least.

My rating: 3/10

Side A:

  1. Loving the alien
  2. Don’t look down
  3. God only knows
  4. Tonight

Side B:

  1. Neighborhood threat
  2. Blue Jean
  3. Tumble and twirl
  4. I keep forgettin’
  5. Dancing with the big boys

Best songs: “Loving the alien” and “Blue Jean”

Released on September 24th, 1984

Media: Box “Loving the alien [1983-1988]”, 2018, reissue, remaster, 180g

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