Revisiting David Bowie’s influential 1980 album “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”

The impact and influence it had on Alternative Rock during the 1980’s and 1990’s it’s tremendous

Revisiting David Bowie’s influential 1980 album “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”

On September 26th, 1980 David Bowie scores his 4th No.1 album on the U.K charts with “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”, released on September 12th. The prolific Bowie released at least one album per year during the whole 1970’s, “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” came after his experimental Berlin period between 1977 and 1979. Though his Berlin trilogy had been praised and critically acclaimed, Bowie hadn’t find a balance yet between creativity and mainstream, he finally achieved that balance with “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” in 1980.

The album puts him once more ahead of the game, he reinvents the New Romantic and New Wave trendy sound of the times and produces his own unique version of it. The curiosity of it all is that the New Romantic and New Wave bands had been themselves influenced by Bowie on developing that genre. The co-production of Bowie with  Tony Visconti puts the cherry on the top of the cake in”Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”, in which it’s base sound of distorted and melodic guitars by Carlos Alomar and Robert Fripp, developed into Alternative Rock later during the 1980’s and 1990’s decade, interesting enough Bowie turned his back on it during most of the 1980’s, right after himself  having started the engine. The album opens with an old film reel sound and then the first song starts, the much yelled “It’s No Game (No. 1)”  includes the famous Japanese dialogue, it’s followed by the wonderful “Up the Hill Backwards”. The perfect side 1 of the album continues with the title song “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” , a balanced blend between Punk, New Wave and Rock. The two major hits of the album are up next, “Ashes To Ashes”, the wonderful Bowie classic that again finds perfect balance between creativity and mainstream, and “Fashion” in which the guitars sound too much like the sounds of the years to come. Side 2 it’s slightly more introspective, it opens with “Teenage Wildlife” an anthem-like song and one of the album’s highest moments, it’s followed by “Kingdom Come” and then one of the album’s highlights “Because We’re Young” featuring a very special guest on guitar, Pete Townshend (they also collaborated together on Bowie’s 2002 album “Heathen” on the track “Slow Burn” curiously,  reminiscent of the musical style present in “Scary Monsters”). On “Because We’re Young” you can clearly listen to where a band like Suede went to look for inspiration on their debut 1993 album.  The album ends with “It’s No Game (No. 2)” a reprise of the initial track in the album but calmer, not yelled as the No.1 and without the Japanese dialogue.”Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” is not often regarded as one of Bowie’s groundbreaking album, however it is, the impact and influence it had on Alternative Rock during the 1980’s and 1990’s it’s tremendous. Like a lot of Bowie’s album’s, it hasn’t aged a second, it was definitively his best creative work during the 1980’s.

Side 1
1 “It’s No Game (No. 1)” (music and lyrics by Bowie, Japanese translation by Hisahi Miura)
2 “Up the Hill Backwards”
3 “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”
4 “Ashes to Ashes” “Fashion”
5 “Fashion”

Side 2
6 “Teenage Wildlife”
7 “Scream Like a Baby”
8 “Kingdom Come” (music and lyrics by Tom Verlaine)
9 “Because You’re Young”
10″It’s No Game (No. 2)”

All songs written by David Bowie, except where noted

David Bowie: vocals, keyboards, backing vocals, saxophone
Dennis Davis: percussion
George Murray: bass guitar
Carlos Alomar: guitars

Aditional Personell:
Chuck Hammer: guitar synthesizer on “Ashes to Ashes” and “Teenage Wildlife”
Robert Fripp: guitar on “Fashion”, “It’s No Game”, “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”, “Kingdom Come”, “Up the Hill Backwards”, and “Teenage Wildlife”
Roy Bittan: piano on “Teenage Wildlife”, “Ashes to Ashes” and “Up the Hill Backwards”
Andy Clark: synthesizer on “Fashion”, “Scream Like a Baby”, “Ashes to Ashes” and “Because You’re Young”
Pete Townshend: guitar on “Because You’re Young”
Tony Visconti: acoustic guitar on “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” and “Up the Hill Backwards”, backing vocals
Lynn Maitland: backing vocals
Chris Porter: backing vocals>Michi Hirota: voice on “It’s No Game (No. 1)”

Recorded during: February–April 1980 at The Power Station, New York City and Good Earth Studios, London
Produced by: David Bowie and Tony Visconti
Release date: September 12th, 1980
Label: RCA


“Ashes to Ashes” b/w “Move On” Released: 8 August 1980
“Fashion” b/w “Scream Like a Baby” Released: 12 September 1980
“Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” b/w “Because You’re Young” Released: 2 January 1981
“Up the Hill Backwards” b/w “Crystal Japan” Released: March 1981

Strongest Tracks: 
“It’s No Game (No. 1)”, “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”,”Ashes to Ashes”, “Fashion”, “Because You’re Young”, “Up the Hill Backwards”

Watch the 1980 music video for “Ashes To Ashes” by David Bowie

Listen to “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” on Spotify

Watch more David Bowie related videos


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David Warren

David Warren is editor and author for Pop Expresso reach out at

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