For my money, “Modern Love” is the greatest hit of Bowie’s eighties pop era. Both “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl,” which preceded “Modern Love” as singles off of 1983’s Let’s Dance, charted higher, but this track is so joyous and with that sax and boom boom bap beat so very eighties:
Like the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” which Bowie covered on Tonight, “Modern Love” is a song about man’s relationship with God, yet that deeper meaning masquerades as a disposable top 40 single. I’m not a religious guy, but that extra lyrical dimension keeps the song interesting even after thousands of spins.
A 12-inch single had to be released of “Modern Love” because, well, it was 1983 and that’s what labels did. Often the remixes didn’t add much worth talking about to the original song, but the b-sides sometimes included interesting tracks. This one gave us a live version of “Modern Love,” and since Bowie hadn’t released a live album since 1978’s Stage that was good enough for me.
As records go this is probably currently overpriced, as are all Bowie records since the artist’s death in 2016. These days a “Modern Love” 12-inch will run you 10-15 bucks, but I’m guessing that the Bowie bubble will eventually burst and you’ll see this one back down in the 3-5 dollar range. Happy hunting.