Written by: David Bowie
Recorded: August, December 1974
Producers: Tony Visconti, Harry Maslin
Released: 17 February 1975
Carlos Alomar: electric guitar
Mike Garson: clavinet
David Sanborn: alto saxophone
Willie Weeks: bass guitar
Andy Newmark: drums
Larry Washington: congas
Luther Vandross, Ava Cherry, Robin Clark, Geoff MacCormack: vocals
‘Right’ is the fourth song on David Bowie’s Young Americans album, released in March 1975.
Like, ‘Right’ is putting a positive drone over. People forget what the sound of Man’s instinct is – it’s a drone, a mantra. And people, say: ‘Why are so many things popular that just drone on and on’. But that’s the point really. It reaches a particular vibration, not necessarily a musical level.
New Musical Express, August 1975
The song is most notable for its complex vocal arrangement, which was painstakingly plotted by Bowie in the studio.
When you have musicians who can give you what you want, your mind goes crazy. David had ideas that he might have had but not been able to use, but now he had the people who could help him do that. Luther took care of all the background arrangements. ‘Right’ was different – it had all these call and responses. David created a ‘dot’ system, with dots that were more numerical than anything else – ‘When you get to number 8, sing this; when you get to 13, sing this.’ You jumped in and out on the dots. It was brutal. We’re talking about ‘Sing in 2 and 3, jump out in 4, back in in 5 and 6…’ It was like a total clusterfuck, but they nailed it every time. You can understand why he was so excited about the outcome of this album. That was the calibre of the musicians, and what he would be getting when he recorded in Philadelphia.
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)
‘Right’ is also the only Young Americans song to feature Geoff MacCormack – then known as Warren Peace – on backing vocals.
Bowie never performed ‘Right’ in concert, although it was considered for the Soul Tour in late 1974. Footage of him singing it with Luther Vandross, Ava Cherry, and Robin Clark during the rehearsals can be seen in the BBC documentaries Cracked Actor and David Bowie: Five Years.