Written by: Iggy Pop, Ivan Kral
Recorded: September-November 1986
Producers: David Bowie, David Richards
Released: 20 April 1987
Never Let Me Down
Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87)
David Bowie: vocals, keyboards
Carlos Alomar, Sid McGinnis: guitar
Peter Frampton: electric sitar
Philippe Saisse: piano
Erdal Kızılçay: keyboards, synthesizer, bass guitar, drums, violin, backing vocals
Errol ‘Crusher’ Bennett: percussion
Earl Gardner: trumpet, flugelhorn
Stan Harrison: alto saxophone
Steve Elson: baritone saxophone
Lenny Pickett: tenor saxophone
Robin Clark, Loni Groves, Diva Gray, Gordon Grodie: backing vocals
David Bowie: vocals
Reeves Gabrels, David Torn: lead guitar
Tim Lefebvre: bass guitar
Sterling Campbell: drums
Mario J McNulty: percussion
Nico Muhly: string arrangement
Rob Moose, Laura Lutzke: violin
Nadia Sirota: viola
Gabriel Cabezas: cello
David Bowie recorded a version of Iggy Pop’s ‘Bang Bang’ for his 1987 album Never Let Me Down.
The song was written by Pop and Ivan Kral, and originally appeared on the 1981 album Party.
Other bands cover Presley or the Velvet Underground; I cover Iggy Pop. I think he’s getting better and better as a songwriter, substantially as a lyricist. There’s a fabulous maturity around what he’s doing. He’s my favorite contemporary songwriter.
Music & Sound Output, June 1987
Pop’s version was released as a single but was not a success, peaking at number 35 on the US Billboard Club Play singles chart.
‘Bang Bang’ was the only song by Pop on Never Let Me Down. Bowie’s previous album, Tonight, had included three songs originally recorded by the singer.
Iggy Pop wrote that one. I think he’s one of the best around. Even though he’s starting to get through, he’s still terribly underrated, so I always try to do my bit, do something of his.
Music & Sound Output, June 1987
In December 1986, an early running order of Never Let Me Down was assembled, with several differences from the final version. ‘Never Let Me Down’ had not been recorded, and the b-side ‘Girls’ was included. The album at that time had ‘Beat Of Your Drum’, ‘Day-In Day-Out’, ‘Time Will Crawl’, ‘New York’s In Love’ and ‘Bang Bang’ on side one, and ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’, ‘Glass Spider’, ‘Too Dizzy’, ‘’87 And Cry’, ‘Girls’ (Extended Edit), and ‘Zeroes’ on side two.
‘Bang Bang’ was the final song on Never Let Me Down, which was released on 20 April 1987.
On the original vinyl edition of the album, seven songs were edited for length. ‘Bang Bang’ was reduced from 4:28 to 4:02.
The 2018 box set Loving The Alien (1983-1988) contained Re:Call 4, a collection of edit, remixes, and non-album tracks. It included the Vinyl Album Edit of ‘Bang Bang’.
A live version of ‘Bang Bang’ was released as a promotional CD single in America towards the end of 1987, along with the album versions of ‘Modern Love’, ‘Loving The Alien’, and ‘Bang Bang’. The new version was recorded during the Glass Spider Tour at the Olympic Stadium, Montreal Canada, on 30 August 1987.
The Live Promotional Mix of ‘Bang Bang’ from the single was also included on Re:Call 4. The box set also included the full show, on the live album Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87).
Loving The Alien (1983-1988) also contained Never Let Me Down (2018), which retained Bowie’s original vocals but replaced almost all the original backing tracks with new recordings.
The 2018 version of ‘Bang Bang’ featured guitarists Reeves Gabrels and David Torn, Tim Lefebvre on bass, Sterling Campbell on drums, and producer Mario J McNulty playing percussion.
I turned that one right around, off the top of my head. If there was one lesson I took from David Bowie, it was about how you could flip the script in a second.
Uncut, November 2018
It also featured a hypnotic string arrangement by Nico Muhly. Rob Moose and Laura Lutzke played violin, while Nadia Sirota and Gabriel Cabezas played viola and cello respectively.