An avant-garde pop album rich with tension and fear, 1980’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) marked a pivotal point in David Bowie’s career. Standing at the bleeding edge of the new decade it was here Bowie sought to bury the ghosts of his past and the golden decade of the 1970s to become a global superstar reaching millions of new fans. In this rare moment, David Bowie, the costumed clown of romance, suffering, and song, let his mask slip to reveal David Jones, the man within.
“Written with a poet’s love for the jumble of words, the critic’s fierce interrogating eye, and the fan’s love of music, Silhouettes and Shadows is an essential read for anyone who takes Bowie seriously. Steiner brings out this unique stage in Bowie’s life and art in full colour and with a rich and intriguing weave of testimony and fresh insights .”
-David Buckley, author of David Bowie: Strange Fascination
“Steiner’s rich text brilliantly recreates the claustrophobic paranoia and relentless self-analysis of an album that seems more unsettling every time you hear it.”
-Peter Doggett, author of The Man Who Sold The World
“An insightful, expansive, and informed searchlight into the inner workings of one of the most essential recordings of Bowie’s oeuvre. Beautifully conceived and written with penetrating insight.”
-Chuck Hammer, guitarist
Reading Silhouettes and Shadows is like living with the album in real-time. In some chapters we are next to Bowie as he is creating the album; sometimes we are next to the photographers and artists putting together its dazzling cover; sometimes we are with the videographer shooting the groundbreaking video for “Ashes to Ashes;” sometimes we are with Steiner himself as a responsive, insightful listener to each song – it’s a pleasure to relive Scary Monsters in Steiner’s hands!”
–Glenn Hendler, author David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs (33 ⅓)
“Both foreshadowed destination and a point of departure, Scary Monsters is a significant staging post in Bowie’s career. Adam Steiner’s erudite book communicates the thrill of an artist meeting the times, and his past, head on.”
-Graeme Thomson, author of Themes for Great Cities: A New History of Simple Minds
“Steiner hears the album as ‘full of angry, feverish melancholia—sad, mad and strange—it sounded like the future arrived to fulfil an alternative present.'”
LOUDER THAN WAR – PENNY KILEY
DRAW THE BLINDS ON YESTERDAY
“This rambling, digressionary and unfocussed exploration of David Bowie’s 1980 hit album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) is an enjoyable and informative book, full of surprises and unexpected comments and critical revelations.“
INTERNATIONAL TIMES – RUPERT LOYDELL
BOWIE HAUNTS HIMSELF
“Offers a compelling, vital insight into this key Bowie album with the dexterity and insight of a novelist as well of a skilled biographer.”
3:AM – GUY MANKOWSKI
Here Be Monsters: Bowie & the Death of John Lennon
“In the most striking reflective lyric of “Changes,” Bowie tries to confront himself in the mirror, but in his turning, the chance of meeting the same person always seems to slip away from him: the breakdown of identity is revealed as its own aesthetic.”
HERE COMES THE FEAR
Bowie’s list of predictions for the new year of 1980 suggest a (purposefully) scattered mind: glib, subversive, and slightly at odds with itself. But masquerading behind a playful disregard for the counting of years remained a fierce sense of purpose. Staring down the barrel of the 1980s, David Bowie faced an uncertain future that blurred feelings of optimism with old reflexes of fear and dread.
Steiner writes in a really academic but very readable style and I love how he draws on the influences of Bowie’s experience and environment. This album was Bowie’s first real post-punk release, given that most people will see 1979’s ‘Lodger’ as the final part of the acclaimed Berlin Trilogy.
WITH JUST A HINT OF MAYHEM
If heaven was ever a place on earth by 1980 David Bowie had yet to find it. Adopting “Kingdom Come” a song written by Tom Verlaine, as his chosen cover for Scary Monsters, Bowie elevates the lyrical struggle with God and the search for an afterlife into a new realm of spiritual angst.
The title track of Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) lifts the lid on a restless and troubled mind. A place of outcasts, weirdos, freaks that cast long shadows; the song becomes a horror movie populated by people pushed to extremes, wounded, broken and flawed, just like us.