… which is how the Irish Examiner greeted David Bowie’s biggest selling single/catalyst for propelling him forwards into proper 1980’s success. Masters of understatement those chaps – I suspect they gave the moon landings* the headline ‘Man Walks On A Decent Chunk Of Rock’.
I was always weirded out a little by the video for Let’s Dance and so whilst I liked the song, I could never quite embrace it as I felt I should, even with that SRV guitaring at the end.
I am vain enough to assume that was exactly why Mr B’s estate made the release of Let’s Dance Demo a central plank of this, increasingly prolific, artist’s RSD 2018 releases. It is a goodie too.
Recorded on 19th December 1982 at Mountain Studios, Montreux with Nile Rodgers, Bowie, Erdal Kızılçay and a few other musos** in attendance ‘Let’s Dance (Full Length Demo)’ is a really great version. Weighing in at 7:34 on 200g virgin vinyl^, in a variant on the original single’s sleeve, this is indeed some serious moonlight.
International treasure and, if there were any fucking decency left in the world, fifth head on Mount Rushmore, Nile Rodgers drives this track with characteristically twinkling guitar. Kızılçay’s bass is far busier here than on the finished article and the drums take a backseat, seemingly following the guitar drive, rather than vice versa.
Bowie’s vocal is really superb, just as well as it really is pushed up front and centre. All the stylings of the final version are here right from the get-go and I love hearing how passionately he sings this demo; the rather studied cool detachment of the finished product are nowhere to be heard, he sings it like he really means it.
I really recommend Let’s Dance Demo to y’all, I found it really interesting to peer under the hood of such a polished 80’s monolith, to hear all the moving parts. The released version seems a million miles away from any sweat and effort, it is a very worthwhile exercise checking out the band behind the sounds. At 7:34 it’s too short.
The B-side gives us ‘Let’s Dance (Live)’, recorded on the Serious Moonlight tour and more specifically in Vancouver on 12 September 1983. This is a seriously caffeinated take on the 7″ version of the tune, a little wayward sax notwithstanding this is the sound of a band rattling througfh a sure-fire crowd pleaser.
You don’t want Let’s Dance Demo in your life, you need it. Decent, indeed.
PS: Check out the vid below for more on the genesis of the tune:
*not that they ever happened, we all know that.
**who history has not recorded as they were a scratch band of local musicians – nobody can remember who the drummer and second guitarist were apparently. Is it too late to claim I was one of them?
^what is ‘virgin vinyl’? plastic that has never got a bit too tipsy on fizzy wine and done it up against the bins behind a nightclub with an unsuitable moustachioed man called Kevin?