While 1981 came and went with only a single, 1982 was much the same. Bowie has since reported that then he and Eno were making “Heroes,” they were blindsided by the work of Giorgio Moroder. His seminal “I Feel Love” with Donna Summer was proclaimed by Eno to be “…the sound of the future… This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.” As we know, Eno was correct. And then some. So when it transpired that Bowie was working with Moroder on the theme song to a remake of the film “Cat People,” I went right out and grabbed the 7″ single on its release. It was an excellent, moody piece of work that I liked so much I went out and bought the full soundtrack album to get the full 6:41 version. The rest of Moroder’s soundtrack was no slouch either.
1982 brought forth another Bowie recording, but truth to tell, I never saw a copy of the “Baal” EP with the Bertol Brecht songs from the BBC production that Bowie starred in for British television. Instead, I managed to buy an intriguing single that I had read about in the “Illustrated Record” book. “Alabama Song” was a Brecht + Weill song familiar to most audiences from the Doors cover version on their popular debut album. This was issued the same year as “Scary Monsters” but was not included on that album. It remained a non-LP single, with a radically spartan take on the classic Bowie tune “Space Oddity” for its B-side. When I saw the German edition in the bins at Retro Records I immediately snapped it up. The tracks were balm for a Bowie that had gone two years now without a new album; then a pop music eternity, but I had little idea of the financial gears that were turning Bowie’s universe at the time.
While Tony Defries had been Bowie’s manager since 1970, and made good on his vow to make the getting-long-in-tooth Bowie a star, it was not without a deep cost. Defries Maniman company siphoned off 50% of Bowie’s take int he 70s and understandably enough, Bowie bristled at having to borrow money to buy groceries from his manager after selling millions of records. The mid-70s lawsuit to end the contract came with a further price for Bowie; Defries would still receive 16% of all Bowie earnings through 1982. Knowing that, it’s not surprising that “Scary Monsters” became a line in the sand as Bowie saw the finish line just two years ahead and gritted his teeth to starve the beast out. As the calendar turned the page into 1983, word came with it that Bowie would be leaving RCA records for EMI and the tune of an alleged $17.5 M. 1983 was the year for David Bowie to [finally] start making some money.
Next: …The creative drought begins