Updated: Jul 1
David Bowie starts the 1980s with a bang.
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
With a neat ten tracks (on original release), a lot of noise and marking the closing of David Bowie's very fractious relationship with RCA, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) seemed to herald a chart-friendly and critically respectable decade ahead for the Thin White Duke, after 1979’s, er, "confusing" Lodger album.
What was to follow was the artistically patchy, if commercially successful, Let’s Dance, the not entirely coherent Tonight and then, well, not many people can remember what happened after that in musical terms. There was a bit of dancing with Mick Jagger, some camp old nonsense around the time of the Labyrinth and then all that hard(ish) rock and drum ‘n’ bass stuff, but nothing to equal the audio pleasures to be found here.
Remembered today mainly for the peculiar joys of Ashes To Ashes (a theatrical pop-gesture that sounds as original and exciting now as it did all those years ago, and the much-copied Fashion, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) is also a treasure of slightly wonky aural gems, from the shouty-for-no-good-reason It’s No Game (Part 1) – not to be confused with Part 2, obviously – to the bonkers and slightly creepy Up The Hill Backwards (“A series of shocks – sneakers fall apart/Earth keeps on rolling – witnesses falling” Huh?), this album positively throbs with restless energy and confidence which Bowie should, by rights, have grown out of by 1980.
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) even feels and sounds like an angry, almost political album, though what that anger may be directed at is impossible to discern from the convoluted, artsy lyrics on offer here, and it is also a demonstration of a very public love affair by the man himself with the electric guitar.
So hurrah for that.
The album does come with that annoying bloody clown and all that distracting promotional video nonsense, but that’s not what we should be thankful for in this little creative package. For, aside from the nothing-to-get-excited-about Kingdom Come, (written by the great Tom Verlaine), this is entirely Bowie’s album as a writer, performer and sometime producer.
Wonderful album artwork too.
So very alternative, so pop and so bloody English, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) remains a veritable ear-charmer just as much today as it was in 1980.