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NME / 16th April 1983


The Return of the Thin White Duke

After a break of three years, Bowie returns to the LP racks this week with the release of “Let’s Dance”, and the single was topping the charts at time of publication. The general consensus these days is that this heralded the start of the artistic decline that would take another ten or so years to rescue. However, the long-player gets a positively gushing review from Charles Shaar-Murray here and quite rightly so. When you listen to now on it’s on terms with fresh ears, it was as much of a fresh re-invention as anything Bowie had produced during his experiential period. In the interim period since 1980’s “Scary Monsters” we’d had Bowie wowing the critics as John Merrick in “The Elephant Man” on Broadway, the “Baal” EP and BBC Television drama, two movies in “The Hunger” and “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” and collaborations with Queen (“Under Pressure”) and Giorgio Moroder (“Cat People”). The paper reveals three open-air gigs for the summer at Milton Keynes Bowl. A few weeks earlier, “The Tube” and the BBC had broadcast film of a sun-tanned, be-suited Bowie perched on a table at Claridges in London announcing his return to the world’s press. Ousting the familiar line-up of Carlos Alomar, George Murray and Dennis Davis for co-producer Nile Rodgers  and blues virtuoso Stevie Ray-Vaughn we got a somewhat updated take on Young Americans- sleek dance music for 1983. As David has admitted in subsequent interviews, it was the mistake of continuing to pander to his new-found mainstream audience for the rest of the 80s where things went truly wrong. 1984’s “Tonight” was no Let’s Dance by any stretch of the imagination.


Sounds of the 80s


Great vintage technology on evidence here with the Audio-Technica “Sound Burger”. As the ad says “With the highest quality sound coming from records rather than cassettes, why settle for second best?” No doubt designed as a vinyl response to the recent Walkman craze, it’s a record player you can carry around with you, either listening through the “neat set of folding headphones provided or add it as a new dimension to your hi-fi system or radio/cassette recorder”. These things are highly collectible these days, fetching a small fortune on eBay and I WANT ONE!!


The Digital Revolution begins here though as the previous month was when Compact Discs where launched in the UK. Here, Hi-Fi Today promises to give us “all we need to know about the new system “.  It would be a while before your typical NME reader would touch them with a barge-pole though, as supplement cassettes were the norm well into the 90s.

In 1986, the “C86” compilation was so iconic that it was even recognised as the start of “Indie” music as we know it today, featuring the jangly guitars and lo-fi production of countless bands that would shortly be filling sides of “Indie Top 20” albums, Peel’s “Festive 50” and the Indie Chart section of Channel 4’s “The Chart Show” (1986-88). (See January 2014 post).

In other news……

Features on New Edition (featuring a teenage Bobby Brown), riding high in the charts with “Candy Girl”, interviews with Julian Cope (fresh from the break-up of The Teardrop Exlpodes), Joey Ramone, Pete Shelley (is this 1977? – ed.), Fad Gadget, New LPs from Aztec Camera, Spear Of Destiny and Clannad and live gigs from Spandau Ballet, Edwin Starr, Prince and Tammy Wynette!

The Charts


UK No. 1 Single: David Bowie “Lets Dance

We’ve heard about Dame David (c. Smash Hits) so let’s stop off at No. 3 for not-quite-one-hit-wonders JoBoxers with “Boxerbeat“. They followed this up with “Just Got Lucky”, which is also ace. Tracey Ullman – my first crush. Yes, I’ve said it.