1984 – EMI
David Bowie’s sixteenth studio album Tonight is a real disappointment. It’s pretty unoriginal, unimaginative, and most of the tracks are sadly forgettable.
The opening track, Loving The Alien, is musically interesting and atmospheric and it seemed like it was going to be a great opening theme tune for a good album, but unfortunately it devolves instantly into the hackneyed white reggae of Don’t Look Down, which is rather soulless and dragging. Then we get some average sounding cover versions (God Only Knows doesn’t hold a candle to the Beach Boys’ original and Neighbourhood Threat sucks all of the violence and machismo out of Iggy Pop) which are pretty boring and don’t really add anything to the album. And we even get another sad white-man’s reggae track (the title Tonight) which somehow manages to remove all of the things that make reggae any good.
It does manage to find some strength towards the end with Blue Jean and Tumble and Twirl which both work well as throw-away dance-pop numbers, but even this burst of liveliness isn’t all that great or interesting. I Keep Forgetting, however, is a hidden gem amongst this backdrop of mediocrity. This upbeat R and B track, which seems to hark back to a much earlier incarnation of Bowie, is a welcome relief from the rest of this rather dull record.
On the whole this album isn’t that bad – it’s just kind of forgettable. Nothing stands out as particularly interesting and most of the songs just kind of blend into one another. This is probably due to the fact that the entire record is overladen with a noisy horn section and pop-clichés – something I don’t normally expect from a David Bowie record.
So my verdict is that Tonight is pretty forgettable as a record, and especially disappointing as a David Bowie album. It’s not ear-bleeding awful, but it’s really not very good – a kind of exemplar of mediocrity. There are a few very good tracks, but they’re probably not enough to make you want to go out and buy the record.
I have this theory that if an artist continues going for long enough they are inevitably going to perform a reggae song. Some have done it well… and others not so much.
David Bowie’s dabbling with the genre on Tonight is definitely not one of the best Jamaica inspired experiments that I have heard.
One of the best tracks from 1984’s Tonight