The all important halfway point has been reached. Well, technically speaking, you could say that there is no halfway point in a top 7. Or could you? Well, it’s late. Very late in fact and I best knock this one out before the clock strikes midnight and I turn into a pumpkin!
Scary Monsters: released 12 September 1980
Highest UK chart position: 1
Highest US chart position: 12
Many critics and fans alike regarded Scary Monsters as Bowie’s last great work of art. Obviously these snobs have yet to listen to or appreciate Heathen, Tin Machine (no, I’m not joking you utter snob), 1. Outside, The Next Day or Blackstar to name a few. For many years, esteemed scribes would drag out the line, “*insert album name here* is Bowie’s best work since Scary Monsters!” They got it half right at least as Scary Monsters is indeed a brilliant album. It set the pace as the music world entered the sometimes fabulous decade that was the 80’s!
Recorded in New York during the first half of 1980, the album itself is a damn fine collection of songs that holds very few, if any faults. From the searing opening lines of It’s No Game (part 1), we are given a swift lesson in why Bowie was so important as a cultural icon during the preceding decade. I’m ok, you’re so so sings the Dame in Up The Hill Backwards, the albums fourth single release. He was more than ok at this point in time. He was a man at the top of his game in more ways than one.
Over the summer of 1992/93, I almost wore my cassette copy of Scary Monsters into the ground. It was played almost on a daily basis and was the first time I realised how important good lyrical content was to an album. It’s as if Bowie is giving every teenager an education on how to not only dress cool, act cool and think cool but also how to stay ahead of the competition all in one roll of the dice. This album of astute beauty sounded more relevant in the mid to late 90’s than it did upon its initial release. Seriously kids. Bowie was so far ahead of the game with this release that it took everyone else over a decade to finally catch up in time to jump on the coat tails of the record.
Highlights are thick and fast. In fact one could argue that every single song is a Bowie classic! My personal triumphs are Teenage Wildlife and Ashes to Ashes. The video for Ashes was shot at Beachy Head on the south coast of England for a then record amount of money. Single hadidly, the video for Ashes to Ashes set the pace for the MTV generation that was to follow.
Unique, highly original and pioneering are the best descriptive terms for Scary Monsters. At a push, I would say that the album has been played at least 500 or more times in my 25 years as an avid Bowie fan. There are plenty of albums from all genres and periods over time that you could consider must haves and Scary Monsters will always remain firmly near the top of the list.