Today would have been David Bowie’s 71st birthday, and as a way of honoring the rock legend, Parlophone Records, via Vulture, has put out an unreleased demo of the icon’s 1983 single “Let’s Dance.” He recorded the demo in Switzerland with super producer Nile Rodgers, and you can listen to this version of the song below:Although David Bowie came to prominence and international acclaim during the glam rock era of the early ’70s, he had a major second wind in his career during the early ’80s, thanks primarily to the album and single “Let’s Dance.” Taking full advantage of the new medium called music videos airing on a little cable outlet called MTV, the title track, “Let’s Dance” reached number one in the UK and the US , while the follow up singles “Modern Love” and “China Girl” were also both huge hits.
Let’s Dance solidified Bowie not just as an icon of ’70s rock but also of the burgeoning New Wave movement of the ’80s. To capitalize on “Bowie Mania: Take 2”, he quickly released a follow up album Tonight, which also contained another one of his iconic ’80s hits, “Blue Jean.”
Although the demo version of “Let’s Dance” is pretty raw and clearly not as slick as the one that was ultimately produced and released for the album, all the essential ingredients that make this tune a great song were there from the very beginning. (For comparisons’ sake, you can listen to the released single version of “Let’s Dance” above).
In a statement, producer Nile Rodgers, recalled “I woke up on my first morning in Montreux with David peering over me. He had an acoustic guitar in his hands and exclaimed, ‘Nile, darling, I think this is a HIT!’” As it turned out, Bowie’s instincts about this track were right on the money.
Do you prefer the demo version of “Let’s Dance” over the released version? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Image: RCA Records