Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

David Bowie: Scary Monsters [RCA Victor, 1980]
No concepts, no stylistic excursions, no avant collaborations--this songbook may be the most conventional album he's ever put his name on. Vocally it can be hard to take--if "Teenage Wildlife" parodies his chanteur mode on purpose the joke's not worth the pain, and if you think Tom Verlaine can't sing, check out "Kingdom Come"--though anyone vaguely interested has already made peace with that. Lyrically it's too facile as usual, though the one about Major Tom's jones gets me every time. And musically, it apotheosizes his checkered past, bringing you up short with a tune you'd forgotten you remembered or a sonic that scrunches your shoulders or a beat that keeps you on your feet when your coccyx is moaning sit down. B+