After making a big splash as the sensational rock and roll icon Ziggy Stardust in the early ‘70s, David Bowie dramatically reinvented himself as a soul boy on Young Americans (1975). It would be another of his shifts in musical direction throughout his career. Recorded at the height of Philly soul dominated by impresarios such as producers Gamble and Huff, Young Americans contains tracks that is uncharacteristic of Bowie’s previous works: a few funky uptempo numbers (“Fascination”) and a lot of slow jams (“Can You Hear Me,” “Win”). Its most popular tunes are the title track (highlighted by David Sanborn’s wailing sax and backing vocals that included the late great Luther Vandross) and the #1 hit “Fame,” a colloboration with John Lennon. Young Americans may not be true authentic soul music but it comes pretty damn close through the Thin White Duke’s suave yet charismatic performance. The reissue adds on three bonus tracks including a disco update of “John I’m Only Dancing” and “Who Can I Be Now”; the DVD portion also contains an interesting interview between Bowie and Dick Cavett on the latter’s show back in the mid ‘70s.
Bowie would return to the funk and soul on 1983’s Let’s Dance. The album’s title cut is just one of the songs on this latest compilation highlighting his ‘80s output. Bowie’s work in that decade is definitely not as artistically innovative as his work in the ‘70s (the exceptions are “Fashion,” “Ashes to Ashes, and “Scary Monsters”), but it showed that the artist was still a commercial force. The hits “China Girl,” “Modern Love”, “Under Pressure,” “Blue Jean” confirmed his popularity at the time; a few tracks make a case for another re-listen like the gorgeous “Absolute Beginners” and the hard-rocking “Day In Day Out.”