Let's Dance

by

David Bowie

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About the album Let's Dance by David Bowie

album Let's Dance by David BowieLet’s Dance is an album by David Bowie, released in 1983, with co-production by Chic’s Nile Rodgers. The title track of the album became one of Bowie’s biggest hit singles, reaching number 1 in the UK, the US and various other countries. Further singles included “Modern Love” and “China Girl”, which both reached number 2 in the UK. “China Girl” was a new version of a song which Bowie had co-written with Iggy Pop for the latter’s 1977 album The Idiot. The album also contains a rerecorded version of the song “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” which had been a minor hit for Bowie a year earlier. Let’s Dance is also notable as a stepping stone for the career of the Texas blues guitar virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan, who played on it. The album was also released as a limited edition picture disc in 1983. Let’s Dance has sold over 10 and a half million copies worldwide, making it Bowie’s best-selling album.Songs and album development:Bowie, having just signed with EMI records for a reported $17.5m, worked with Nile Rodgers to release a “commercially buoyant” new album that was described as “original party-funk cum big bass drum sound greater than the sum of its influences.” The album’s influences were described as Louis Jordan, the Asbury Jukes horn section, Bill Doggett, Earl Bostic and James Brown.Bowie spent a mere three days making demos for the album in New York before cutting the album, a rarity for Bowie who, for the previous few albums, usually showed up with little more than “a few ideas.” Despite this, the album “was recorded, start to finish, including mixing, in 17 days” according to Rodgers.Stevie Ray Vaughan, who met Bowie at the 1982 Montreux Jazz Festival, when discussing the album, said “to tell you the truth, I was not very familiar with David’s music when he asked me to play on the sessions. … David and I talked for hours and hours about our music, about funky Texas blues and its roots – I was amazed at how interested he was. At Montreux, he said something about being in touch and then tracked me down in California, months and months later.”Unusually, Bowie played no instruments on the album. “I don’t play a damned thing. This was a singer’s album.”A few years later, Bowie discussed his feelings on the track “Ricochet” (which Musician magazine called an “incendiary ballroom raveup”) from this album:“I thought it was a great song, and the beat wasn’t quite right. It didn’t roll the way it should have, the syncopation was wrong. It had an ungainly gait; it should have flowed. … Nile [Rodgers] did his own thing to it, but it wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind when I wrote the thing.”The album was generally positively reviewed by critics and well received by fans, with at least one reviewer calling it “Bowie at his best.”The success of the album surprised Bowie. In 1997, he said “at the time, Let’s Dance was not mainstream. It was virtually a new kind of hybrid, using blues-rock guitar against a dance format. There wasn’t anything else that really quite sounded like that at the time. So it only seems commercial in hindsight because it sold so many [copies]. It was great in its way, but it put me in a real corner in that it fucked with my integrity.”In fact, Bowie would later state that the success of the album caused him to hit a creative low-point in his career which lasted the next few years. “I remember looking out over these waves of people [who were coming to hear this record played live] and thinking, ‘I wonder how many Velvet Underground albums these people have in their record collections?’ I suddenly felt very apart from my audience. And it was depressing, because I didn’t know what they wanted.”Track listingAll songs written by David Bowie except as noted.Side one:A1 “Modern Love” – 4:46A2 “China Girl” (Bowie, Iggy Pop) – 5:32A3 “Let’s Dance” – 7:38A4 “Without You” – 3:08Side twoB1 “Ricochet” – 5:14B2 “Criminal World” (Peter Godwin, Duncan Browne, Sean Lyons) – 4:25B3 “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” (lyrics: Bowie, music: Giorgio Moroder) – 5:09B4 “Shake It” – 3:49

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