Tuesday, September 23, 2014

David Bowie - Tonight

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Tonight, the sixteenth studio album from David Bowie. It went to number 8 in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, number 4 in Australia, New Zealand and Sweden, number 3 in Norway, and number 1 in the Netherlands and the UK. Here in the US, it spent twenty-four weeks on the Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 11.

Side one begins with “Loving the Alien”. Released as the third single, it went to number 65 in Australia, number 27 in Germany, number 25 in the Netherlands, number 19 in the UK and number 9 in Ireland. At over seven minutes in length, it is the longest on this record. The song has a darker and heavier mood, thanks to the prominent introductory percussion. In a lot of ways, it reminds me musically of a Thompson Twins sort of track.

The B-side to the third single was “Don’t Look Down”, a cover of a song that first appeared on Iggy Pop’s 1979 album New Values. Bowie played around with a number of music styles before hitting the right combination with a reggae-jazz sound.

Next up is a cover of the Beach Boys’ 1966 hit “God Only Knows”. Bowie takes a haunting classic and makes it even more so.

The title track “Tonight” was written by Bowie and Iggy Pop for the latter’s 1977 album Lust For Life. Here it was redone in a reggae style as a duet between Bowie and Tina Turner. As the second single, it reached number 70 in Australia, number 53 in both the UK and on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 39 in Germany, number 32 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, number 24 in Ireland, number 23 in Switzerland, number 22 in Austria, number 21 in Canada, and number 1 in the Netherlands.

Side two starts with “Neighborhood Threat”, another cover a track from Pop’s Lust For Life. This one has a lot of energy and is very danceable.

“Blue Jean”, the first single, hit number 22 in France, number 21 in Germany, number 16 in Austria, number 14 in Switzerland, number 12 in Australia, number 10 in the Netherlands, number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 6 in the UK, number 5 in Sweden, number 4 in Canada, number 3 in Ireland and Norway, and number 2 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. This was the only track from the album that I remember hearing a lot of back in 1984 – in the dance clubs and on MTV.

“Tumble and Twirl”, another dance beat driven song, was the B-side to the second single. The lyrics refer to Bowie and Pop’s adventures while vacationing in Bali and Java after the Let’s Dance tour.

“I Keep Forgettin’” was penned by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, first recorded in 1962 by Chuck Jackson. In 1982, Michael McDonald had a hit single with his version. Bowie covers it here with a rapid-fire, swinging rhythm that gives it quite a fresh take.

“Dancing with the Big Boys”, the album closer, was also the B-side to the first single. Iggy Pop, who had been hanging out in the studio a lot when Bowie made the album, provides guest vocals on the track. The lyrics reflect the struggles of the single individual against the large corporate structure.

Overall, I liked Tonight from this first play through. It is definitely one I might seek out in the near future to add to my library.

For more Davie Bowie music, click here.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I listened to this one quite a bit when it was released, but not much since then. Sure it's no Let's Dance, but I don't think it's as bad as most Bowie fans seem to believe. I've always preferred the fun dance-rock of side 2 to the pseudo-reggae of side 1 (although "Loving the Alien" is a solid opener).

As Kurt Loder wrote in a 3 star Rolling Stone review: "Even when he's just going through the motions, Bowie is able to come up with something of interest."