David Bowie
Tonight


2.0
poor

Review

by Tom93M USER (139 Reviews)
August 9th, 2011 | 85 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tonight we sigh with disappointment.

If Let’s Dance marked the first point in Bowie’s career since the sixties where he was sat in the curve rather than blazing ahead of it, then Tonight marks the point where he begun trailing behind. Featuring a measly pair of new Bowie compositions and a track-list saturated with reworkings of his collaborations with Iggy Pop; Tonight sounds tired, rushed, unnecessary, and more than anything else, disappointing.

There are a few plausible reasons for the album’s underwhelming wash of stale, pop-friendly tunes. One is that Bowie churned out Tonight in aid of his pal, Iggy Pop. Pop’s funds were running dry, and after taking a holiday with him to Java and Bali, Bowie decided to help an old friend out. Riding hot on the heels of the mega-success that was Let’s Dance and its accompanying Serious Moonlight tour, Bowie realised that he merely needed to cut more of the same material, release it on an LP and simply wait for the banknotes to roll in as it climbed the charts.

Such a theory certainly explains the amount of Iggy Pop related tracks on Tonight - 4 of the cuts (‘Tonight’, ‘Neighbourhood Threat’, ‘Tumble And Twirl’, ‘Dancing With The Big Boys’) have his name credited to them in some form or another - the first two dating back to Bowie’s co-writing position on Lust For Life, whilst the latter pair represent fresh Bowie/Pop collaborations. If it’s to be believed, then Tonight was a succinct, sly, but simultaneously heart-warming and generous way of earning his friend some cash via the song-writing royalties.

Although the Iggy situation may creep into it, a more plausible reasoning behind Tonight’s lacklustre nature lies in the fact that Bowie’s creative well was beginning to run dry. Bowie’s open disregard for his 84-87 period and the confirmed rumours of his almost disinterested approach go along way in explaining why the album shapes up as a less than quality listen. Bowie confessed to letting himself be told what to do as opposed to putting his own ideas forward - he had composed more original material than appeared on the album but just didn’t have the drive or confidence to bring them to life. In other words, he was treading water - appeasing the fans of the shiny and sleek Let’s Dance, and in the process he failed to challenge himself the way he would’ve a decade earlier.

It really shows through in the album’s nine songs. For the most part the melodies are turgid and underwhelming; the arrangements cluttered and suffocating, and the production anachronistic and over-fussed. Numbers like ‘Neighbourhood Threat’, which has potential with its kicking guitar, get buried beneath an overly glossy production; much like the reggae vibe of ‘Tonight’, which is spoiled by an awkward and fluffy arrangement (also featuring backing vocals from Tina Turner, for no good reason).

Despite this, Tonight has a couple of decent cuts buried beneath its mass of mediocre material. As it turns out they are both of the album’s two original Bowie songs - ‘Loving the Alien’ and ‘Blue Jean’. The former has a tense synth undercurrent, twitchy percussion and a nervy vocal, making for an enjoyable but unimpressive four and a half minutes. ‘Blue Jean’ is slightly better with its zappy horn section, gentle marimba backing and lively chorus vocal, resulting in the album’s best track.

Whether it was a favour to a friend, a sad demonstration of artistic drought, a cash generator or a combination of all three, Tonight shapes up as consistently average listen - hence it disappointing status for long-term fans who’ve experienced bigger and better Bowie records. Apart from its two highlights, ‘Loving The Alien’ and ‘Blue Jean’ (which aren’t all that astounding, anyway), Tonight represents the first Bowie album in a long time that can be well and truly skipped by all but the absolute devout.



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user ratings (377)
2.4
average
other reviews of this album
TheMystical (4)
An eery Bowie classic....



Comments:Add a Comment 
fsharptrit0ne
August 9th 2011


4817 Comments


I'm pretty unfamiliar with this album

But awesome negative review Tom =)

Tom93M
August 9th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Cheers, bud. I guess you've already worked out from the review that you don't really need to become familiar with it, either. Sad album, although not his worst.

fsharptrit0ne
August 9th 2011


4817 Comments


Never Let Me Down........

Tom93M
August 9th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

You guessed it. One begins to question whether that was an ironic title or not.

omnipanzer
August 9th 2011


21826 Comments


Blue Jean is another one of my favorite tracks but that's all I got to say about that. Good job slogging through it bud. You aren't anywhere near all that trouble are you sir?

Tom93M
August 9th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Thanks, man. Never Let Me Down review tomorrow is where the shit hits the fan. It's his worst, but it starts to get progressively brighter after that.



Edit: Oh, i just realised you mean the riots. Fortunately not - i'm up near Manchester and the riots are way down in London, although it has crept up to Birmingham, so it could filter up here. Thanks for your concern though, bud.

AggravatedYeti
August 9th 2011


7683 Comments


Never heard this either but this review is certainly well written enough to keep me away.

Tom93M
August 9th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Thanks, Yeti - glad you got the picture - this album is quite shit.

Kaleid
August 9th 2011


743 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I've just come home from Manchester city centre Tom, they've already got the police vans out cos a few people have already started to kick off. A good night to stay in.



Good review for a crap album. He could maybe have claimed to be helping Iggy out for this one, but the next one - and the whole Glass Spider tour - was such a blatant cash-in. He just couldn't be arsed anymore.

AggravatedYeti
August 9th 2011


7683 Comments


After my introduction to Let's Dance! I basically gave up on 80s Bowie. Though I still really need to give Scary Monsters another shot.

Out of curiosity have you heard his last two records?

Tom93M
August 9th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Cheers, Kaleid. I'm a good 20-25 mins away from Manchester centre so i should be good. Yeah, you're right that the money played a large role in the 84-87 albums too. He managed to start trying to be creative again shortly afterwards.



Yeti, Scary Monsters is the one exception to his dross 80s material - one of his best, so you should be right with it.

13themount
January 23rd 2012


173 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

bad album; why we hometaped back in those days.

Anthracks
June 7th 2012


6616 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

not as bad as people make it out to be. fun times

Digging: Arsebreed - Butoh

Anthracks
January 14th 2013


6616 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

neighborhood threat is the jam

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2013


5237 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

Even if this is not among his best records, it has its' moments.

Digging: Deftones - Ohms

peaks40
November 15th 2014


2829 Comments


Good review. I do like loving the alien

Maladjusted
January 9th 2016


120 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Loving the alien is so addictive

oWhoadYo
January 11th 2016


2349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Underrated album

Anthracks
January 11th 2016


6616 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely so.

oWhoadYo
January 11th 2016


2349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Bought it on vinyl a year or so back just out of curiosity, plus it was a great deal. Listened to it and enjoyed it. Then I happened to see the reviews and was pretty shocked



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