From the Stacks

From The Stacks: David Bowie, “Never Let Me Down” (Promo Single)

“Never Let Me Down” might be the most inappropriately titled song/album in the David Bowie discography.

I was and remain a diehard David Bowie fan. My sweet spot is the more experimental work of the Berlin Trilogy, but there’s really not an era of Bowie that I don’t enjoy, so back in ’87 when I heard a new album was about to drop I was beyond excited. And then it did, and I was no longer excited: Never Let Me Down was a total letdown.

Bowie knew it, too. Throughout the last 30 years of his career, he occasionally noted that the songs were good but the album’s production was lacking. He even toyed with the idea of redoing them, a project that apparently gained some transaction in the mid-2000s but wasn’t completed until after his death. Super fans finally got a Never Let Me Down that was not a letdown in the Loving the Alien box set that dropped in 2018. Bowie was right: The songs were solid, but the original production was poor.

My favorite track on the new Never Let Me Down is “Glass Spider,” which in its original form strived to be a Bowie classic but ended up a bloated Broadway showtune. The reimagined version conveys the dark menace of the lyrical content, and sounds almost like an outtake from the Outside sessions.

Anyway, my “Never Let Me Down” promo single is a little bit rarer than its commercially available counterpart, but it’s not a particularly desirable record to any but the most ardent Bowie fans. You should be able to find a copy in the 2-5 dollar range. Happy hunting.

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