This was a great return to form for Bowie. After making a run of great albums the general public would have considered to be ‘a bit weird’ (the Berlin trilogy), it might have seemed like he’d disappeared up his own arse. His first album after those records, 1980’s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), proved he still had hits in him (in Ashes To Ashes and Fashion), but it wasn’t until Let’s Dance in 1983 that he returned to the mainstream wholesale.
Let’s Dance has always been one of my favourite Bowie songs. It has such a groove to it that you can’t help but swing your hips. That cod-Beatles intro might put the song into dangerous territory, but when the main riff kicks in, there’s just so much space in it. Even if you take away Nile Rodgers’ lovely guitar work, I could just listen to that bassline on a loop over and over. Of course, you also have a nice blues guitar courtesy of Stevie Ray Vaughan – one powerhouse guitarist clearly wasn’t enough for Bowie in 1983.
Nile Rodgers and Stevie Ray Vaughan are both such heroes of mine, that this really is a treat of an album for me. Even on something like Without You, Stevie Ray’s subdued blues licks in the background give the song a texture that would have otherwise been missing had Bowie only used Nile Rodgers on the record. Similarly, you can’t imagine any of the album’s big singles – Modern Love, China Girl and Let’s Dance – without Nile Rodger’s chicken-scratch, machine-like groove.
Hit: Let’s Dance
Hidden Gem: Without You