EMI America, released 14th April 1983
Produced by David Bowie and Nile Rodgers
Recorded at Power Station, New York City
UK Album Chart position: #1
Weeks in chart: 56
UK album sales: 842,000
‘Let’s Dance’ (#1)
‘China Girl’ (#2)
‘Modern Love’ (#2)
‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)’ (#26)
Bowie on Let’s Dance: ‘At the time, it 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. It was great in its way, but it put me in a real corner in that it fucked with my integrity! It was a good record, but it was only meant as a one-off project. I had every intention of continuing to do some unusual material after that. But the success of that record really forced me, in a way, to continue the beast. It was my own doing, of course, but I felt, after a few years, that I had gotten stuck…’
2 thoughts on “David Bowie’s Let’s Dance: 32 Years Old Today”
Thanks for sharing that quote from Bowie about “Let’s Dance.” When I did my series on his discography a few years ago, a lot of friends & fans claimed to hate this album because he “sold out” or “went pop.” I strongly disagreed, attempting to explain that it only seemed that way because, almost in spite of itself, the album became a massive success. Obviously the next couple of albums were the ones that found him courting commercial success, and those ended up being hit-and-miss affairs while Let’s Dance holds up very well after all these years.
Thanks for that, Rich. Yes, you could look at it another way and say ‘Let’s Dance’ was a commercial risk! Even though Bowie said to Nile, ‘I want hits, darling!’, Nile’s star was most definitely on the decline around late ’82 and Bowie had hardly set the world on fire with his ‘Baal’ and ‘Cat People’ soundtrack work. Also Stevie Ray Vaughan was virtually unknown outside the hardcore US blues circuit. I agree with you, I think it stands up extremely well despite the slight drop-off towards the end of side two. I actually love ‘Tonight’ too, more on that to come… The only real dog for me is ‘Never Let Me Down’ though I think the title track is excellent.