To me, the big thing that David Bowie does between Scary Monsters.. and Let’s Dance is spend a month in Rarotonga filming Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. Before writing about a film that’s had such a huge impact on me, though, a pause for his interstitial singles.
‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)’ with Giorgio Moroder, 1982
This film I confess I haven’t seen and don’t intend to, not least because this is more my preference in Cat People:
Regarding the song, I can’t add anything to the brilliant summary over at my favorite Bowie blog. Check it out for good notes about the production and a clear explanation of why Bowie didn’t put out albums in 1981 or 1982.
I will firmly say, however, that the original 7-minute single is vastly more interesting than the later album version. The latter sounds like (and, I believe, was) the dancefloor retread, although points to the instrumental ‘meow’ in the first verse. The original really has something going on. I’m not sure what, but something.
‘Under Pressure’ with Queen, 1981
If you want a smart and funny commentary on this song, look here again. My reaction to it is pretty much in the title of this post: “OMG! It’s David Bowie AND Freddie Mercury! And their voices! And their teeth!”
I’m glad to have an excuse to listen officially to this song that gets sampled and referenced everywhere and included in all sorts of ads and trailers. It’s one of the ways pop culture instantly signals It’s the Eighties! the way that Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Stop Children What’s That Sound’ or Tommy James and the Shondells’ ‘Crimson and Clover’ does for the Sixties.
It may be dopey, but I enjoy the passion.
The one and only person hotter and cooler than the sum of Bowie and Freddie? It’s Annie Lennox, of course…
…though Gail Ann Dorsey gives her a run for her money.