After a long hiatus (“Never Let Me Down” was almost universally panned, and almost killed Bowie’s career entirely), “Black Tie White Noise” was a triumphant (to an extent) return for the Thin White Duke.
This is an album that would most likely come in the bottom half of most Bowie fan’s rankings (or at least near the middle), and although I’d rank it similarly I still think this album is pretty good. Sure, it’s not exactly ground-breaking stuff, but there are enough good tracks on here to keep me invested. How would I rank the songs on this album?
You can check out some of my other Bowie lists below:
12 – Pallas Athena
There are too many 90’s club songs that sound exactly like this, so “Pallas Athena” does absolutely nothing interesting and fails to add any substance to the record.
11 – Nite Flights
Not an offensively bad song, but it’s one of the least memorable on the whole album.
10 – I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday
A nice, slow track in theory, but like many of the songs on this album I just don’t remember it after I’ve heard it. Apparently this is a Morrissey cover? I haven’t heard the original, but it’s probably better than this.
9 – Miracle Goodnight
There’s a peculiarity about this one that at least makes it slightly interesting, but it doesn’t do enough to sustain my interest.
8 – I Feel Free
A decent cover, but it doesn’t amount to anything more than that. I really like the original Cream song, so when I listen to this version I can’t help but feel like it’s inferior.
7 – Don’t Let Me Down and Down
A lovely, sincere ballad, and the slick bassline does just enough to elevate this to the “Good” tier.
6 – The Wedding
Quite a strange opening track, but it does a very good job setting the tone. This album was a sort of wedding present from Bowie to his wife Iman, and these celebratory themes can be heard throughout “Black Tie White Noise”.
The final track is just this exact song but better, so this can only be “Good”.
5 – Looking for Lester
Probably a song that most people would just skip over, but I find “Looking for Lester” to be a fun, charming instrumental addition to the album.
There’s a recurring theme of a sort of distorted saxophone / woodwind sound in all of the songs, and it’s very prominent here. If that’s not your thing, then this album isn’t for you – but I actually quite like the unique sound.
4 – You’ve Been Around
This one went way up my rankings on a recent re-listen – it fits the album perfectly. The chorus is definitely catchy, and I actually enjoy the verses quite a lot too.
3 – The Wedding Song
Identical to the opening track, but with lyrics this time.
The added, echo-ey lyrics makes this an ethereal, angelic track, and the connection to Bowie’s real-life wedding makes this a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying conclusion to his comeback album.
2 – Jump They Say
A deeply personal song to Bowie – his brother had unfortunately passed away, and this tragic story resonates in the lyrics.
This is lyrically the best track on the album, and the chorus is unbelievably catchy as well. I think this was the biggest hit from the record, and deservedly so – the chorus has a sort of belt-out-loud appeal that makes the whole song great.
1 – Black Tie White Noise
The unsung hero of the album, and one of Bowie’s most underrated tracks in general.
Probably the grooviest and funkiest song on “Black Tie White Noise”, and it’s refreshing to hear somebody else feature on a Bowie song – the contrast of the guest singer and Bowie’s trademark vocals makes for fantastic listening, and this is undoubtedly my favourite song on the album because of it.
Aaaand that’s my list. This was the start of Bowie’s creative revival, so there’ll be a few good albums coming up that I can’t wait to talk about. Until then, you can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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