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Young Americans

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Audio CD, February 24, 1998
$15.99 $2.83
Vinyl, 1975
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Editorial Reviews

With 1975's Young Americans, David Bowie chose to head in yet another "new direction," this time extrapolating on the slick disco-soul vibe that characterized 1974's David Live. Surrounded by an army of backup singers (including Luther Vandross) and smooth session players, Bowie actually makes the stylistic affectation work on three of the songs--"Fame," "Young Americans," and "Can You Hear Me." The rest of the record suffers from a dearth of quality songwriting; all the tasty licks in the world can't disguise the fact that "Fascination," "Win," "Somebody Up There Likes Me," and "Right" are basically empty-headed disco vamps. (And the less said about the overwrought cover of the Beatles' "Across the Universe," the better.) A necessary transitional step to Station to Station, perhaps, but not a great record. --Dan Epstein

1. Young Americans
2. Win
3. Fascination
4. Right
5. Somebody Up There Likes Me
6. Across The Universe
7. Can You Hear Me
8. Fame
9. Who Can I Be Now?
10. It's Gonna Be Me
11. John, I'm Only Dancing Again

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 24, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Emd/Capitol
  • ASIN: B00000635N
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,051 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Matty P.L. on June 9, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I love this album. The original stereo mix is great. Great songs, great performances, great sound. I'm not even going to get into that. My review is for those of you strictly curious about the 5.1 mix.

The 5.1 mix, in short, is awful. If you've ever thought to yourself, "Boy, I wish that bongo drum was loud as hell" or "Why can't those backup singers sound like they're singing in a garage down the road?" then maybe you'll like this. The strut and soul of these songs is lost in the obnoxious frills of this surround mix. There are constant issues with the reverb on both lead and backup vocals. I'm sure the original tracks are hard to deal with, but the effects that make this album sound like a classic piece of coked-out 70's soul only sound awkward when shifting around in the stereo field at any instant. The only track that I find even interesting to hear in 5.1 is "Win". The worst tragedy of this remix is "Fame". It sounds so dry and brittle that I can't even handle it. This isn't "Fame". This is something else... Then again "Fascination" sucks pretty bad too. Man, what a waste of money.

The Dick Cavette show stuff is great though. Bowie just can't quit fidgeting with that cane.

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dazedcat on June 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I honestly think the Dolby mix listening experience depends on the type of fidelity system one has. I do agree with the previous poster that certain instruments really are much too loud on several of the songs, but I found the backup singers coming out of the rear channels to be really something else. The songs featuring string arrangements are especially compelling with Bowies' vocals centered, background singers in the rear and the orchestration lushly swirling around seemingly from everywhere. I don't know if Dolby DTS makes this sound better, but that's the scheme that I use to listen to just about everything, including this (I just prefer DTS over 5.1). Aside from the occasionally loud bass drum or percussion instrument, I just haven't found any deal breaking faults like the prior reviewer has. No disrespect to his opinions, but I guess people just hear things differently.

The five star rating is for the total package of this latest re-issue. The CD version of the mixes is outstanding, the Dolby disc while not drop dead essential, is nice enough to have. The Dick Cavett interview and the musical performances are both really very interesting archival things. Yeah they've been floating around forever as bootlegs, but now's your chance to get it legitimately. The liner notes are also excellent, tracing the path of the album itself and the Bowie timeline of events that surrounded this recording (like found on the Ziggy, Aladin and Diamond Dogs reissues).

So in short, no don't buy this if you're happy with whatever version of YA you have. But if you do have the cash to burn then by all means indulge yourself.

Young Americans was and still is, a great great album.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Martin A Hogan HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 3, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"Young Americans" still surprises me to this day with it's amazing R&B. The sound was more clearly mixed than "Diamond Dogs" and it was a real departure for Bowie. The regular remastered CD with, "John, I'm Only Dancing", "Who Can I Be Now?" and "It's Gonna Be Me" sounds even better than the original CD. The extra three tracks are on par with the other songs and its bewildering that in an era when 12 songs per album were standard, Bowie released an eight song album. "John, I'm Only Dancing" is a much more improved R&B version than the rock version.

The 5.1 mix surprised me. It is not perfect and I like it that way. Luther Vandross's back-up vocals come mostly from the rear speakers and you can hear him much more clearly. The congas on "Young Americans" are a little loud for the mix, but it makes the whole experience seem more like a live studio recording instead of a carefully remastered remix. In fact, Bowie mentioned in the liner notes that he liked recording this album with all the instruments playing at once while he sang. There are other surprises. On this DVD you can hear John Lennon speak briefly after one song and the finale of "Fame" has each word of 'fame' descending going around the room from speaker to speaker, but the loud shout of 'fame!' before, 'what's your name, what's your name, what's your name...' is missing. It catches you!

The Dick Cavett interview is a treat, with Bowie sniffing and wiping his nose while fidgeting with his cane. So he did a lot of coke during this period. Who cares? The album is a perfect choice for surround sound. And that sound will vary from system to system.
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Gordon M. Wagner VINE VOICE on August 13, 2003
Format: Audio CD
THIS IS A CLASSIC ALBUM AND ONE YOU OUGHT TO HEAR AGAIN AND AGAIN. Smooth, polished, perfect -- if David Bowie had emerged from the primordial goo of 60s/70s music to deliver only this single album (as opposed to his Picasso-like eternal rock brilliance) he would still be considered a genius.

For someone to term this album "plastic" is an abomination. This is brilliant work, satisfying on several levels at once, not the least of which is the joy of hearing the stellar production and playing throughout the album. The arrangements will have you out of your seat with joy, shouting out the open front door to the neighbors to get over here and listen to this, no, wait, I'll just turn it up. It's *exciting* how good this music is.

There's one point in "Win" where the background singers, Bowie, and the bass line are all happening and it's a kind of vortex or singularity that delivers all that music has to offer, I mean they really grab the gold ring and bring it home to show Grandma. This album is so good that I've never objected to the horn charts, which always irritate me otherwise. It's a beautifully crafted album, truly a work of art.

Yes, "Across The Universe" blows monkey chunks. Listen, not every oyster you slice open is going to contain a pearl, you know what I mean..? And I heard "Young Americans" often enough in high school to really never want to hear the song again, though 25 years on it's not half as bad as I recall.

The combination of Win > Fascination > Right > Somebody Up There stands as the vital, beating heart of the album. Excellent for slow f*cking.
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