RCD 20147 Scary Monsters
Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti
Released on September 1980
UK CHART POSITION #1 . . . US CHART POSIITON #12
Find it at GEMM
RCD 20147 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

M oreso than Diamond Dogs, Scary Monsters is David Bowie’s nightmare of the future. It’s as frightening, confrontational, violent, paranoid and groundbreaking an album as he’s recorded. And it’s flat-out brilliant at every turn, beating listeners into submission with the opening “It’s No Game (Part 1),” drawing them into a sublime state on “Ashes To Ashes,” birthing them into the nightmare on “Scream Like A Baby.” Having been born at the right time, I remember being a huge Bowie fan as a teenager when it was announced that Bowie was re-visiting Major Tom of “Space Oddity” fame on his new album -- I was afraid he’d somehow detract from the original (like Peter Schiller had), but “Ashes To Ashes” floored me. This song and “Fashion” were also made into early music videos (the latter was less artsy, just Bowie in camouflage green and his band), and both hit me like a revelation from on high. Today, Scary Monsters still packs a powerful punch; the development of “alternative” rock has softened the stun factor somewhat, but few have ever brought this level of musicianship and innovation to the studio (after all, not everyone can draft Robert Fripp as a guest guitarist). Low is probably the closest in effect to this album (Lodger had favored brutal minimalism), if Bowie had replicated the choppy song structure across an entire album. There are elements of Heroes on here as well (notably “Teenage Wildlife”), but where his earlier albums seemed detached, Scary Monsters grabs you into the moment without concern for your personal safety. It’s an exhilirating experience, one you’d have to go back to Aladdin Sane to find a point of reference, and one Bowie has not matched since. If fans needed a reminder of why they anticipated Bowie’s new albums like mana from heaven, Scary Monsters was it. In 1992, a remastered version of the album was released with four additional tracks dating from 1979, including the singles “Crystal Japan” and “Alabama Song.”

AQL1-3647 front cover AQL1-3647 back cover AQL1-3647 lyric sleeve
AQL1-3647 front cover AQL1-3647 back cover AQL1-3647 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. IT'S NO GAME (PART 1)    4:15
  2. UP THE HILL BACKWARDS    3:13
  3. SCARY MONSTERS (AND SUPER CREEPS)    5:10
  4. ASHES TO ASHES    4:23
  5. FASHION    4:46
  6. TEENAGE WILDLIFE    6:51
  7. SCREAM LIKE A BABY    3:35
  8. KINGDOM COME    (Tom Verlaine)    3:42
  9. BECAUSE YOU'RE YOUNG    4:51
  10. IT'S NO GAME (PART 2)    4:22

    CD expanded reissue bonus tracks
  11. SPACE ODDITY (1979 version)    4:57
  12. PANIC IN DETROIT (1979 version)    3:00
  13. CRYSTAL JAPAN    3:08
  14. ALABAMA SONG    (Kurt Weil/Bert Brecht)    3:51

    All songs written by David Bowie unless noted

CREDITS

DAVID BOWIE -- vocals + keyboards, vocal backing, cover concept
CARLOS ALOMAR -- guitars
DENNIS DAVIS -- percussion
ROBERT FRIPP -- guitar
GEORGE MURRAY -- bass
Roy Bittan -- piano
Andy Clark -- synthesizer
Chuck Hammer -- guitar (4,6)
Michi Hirota -- voice (1)
Lynn Maitland -- vocal backing
Hisahi Miura -- Japanese translation
Chris Porter -- vocal backing
Pete Townshend -- guitar (9)
Tony Visconti -- acoustic guitar, vocal backing
Natasha Kornilof -- clown costume
Richard Sharah -- make-up
Edward Bell -- illustrations
Brian Duffy -- cover concept, photography
Greg Gorman -- photography
David Fanthorpe -- photography
Reiner Design Consultants, Inc. -- package design (Rykodisc reissue)

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK September 1980 RCA LP/CS BOWLP/BOWK2 lyric insert
US September 1980 RCA LP AQL1-3647 lyric sleeve
JPN 1980 RCA LP RVP-6472 lyric insert
WW 1980 RCA LP PL-13647 lyric sleeve
YUG   Jugoton LP LSRCA73117  
GER   RCA LP PL-83647 lyric sleeve
RUS   Ars Nova CD AN 990358  
UK June 1992 EMI CDX CDP 7 99331 w. bonus tracks
US 1992 Rykodisc CDX RCD 20147 w. bonus tracks
JPN 1992 EMI CDX TOCP-8877 w. bonus tracks
RUS   CD Maximum CD 387 repackaged w. PIN-UPS
JPN 1999 EMI Toshiba CD TOCP-65317 24-bit digital remaster
WW September 21, 1999 Virgin CD 21895 digital remaster
US October 21, 2003 Virgin CD 43318 SACD hybrid

 

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