37 years ago, the Thin White Duke laid down the law of the land as he issued his 15th album Let's Dance.
Braving yet a new career frontier within his constant exploration between the mainstream and underground post-Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), Bowie recruited producer Nile Rodgers in his sonic return to thrilling pop.
Partnering with the disco wizard and Chic guitarist Rodgers as well as renowned blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bowie anchored in a melodic pop/rock/R&B hybrid that fused in peppery percussion, seductive whispers, bluesy guitar riffs and humid brass.
“Nile, I really want you to make hits.” Bowie told Rodgers, according to a 2016 Rolling Stone review.
The forward thinking title-track "Let's Dance" was perfected for both radio play and its clever music video destined for endless MTV rotation. The massive success of the song immortalized Bowie in a perfect snapshot of 80's summer heat, alongside a funky pair of red shoes.
According to Bowie, Vaughan had “become midwife” to his vision of music with a “European sensibility, but owed its impact to the blues.”
Follow-up hit single "China Girl" was less punk, more disco, featuring a video showcasing the blonde Bowie drinking tea with New Zealand-born model Geeling Ching. Peaking at No. 2 in the UK, the song moves in constant flux between an ephemeral vibe nixed with darker, pleading guitar chords in transition.
In the UK, the single "Let's Dance" began its the chart stay at #5, stealing the No. 1 throne two weeks later for a three-week total. Let's Dance became Bowie's first platinum studio album in the states, depicting that Bowie had not only returned to pop stardom, but trademarked his ability to transform his feeling of personal urgency into commercial success.