Never Let Me Down album coverWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: September-December 1986
Producers: David Bowie, David Richards

Released: 20 April 1987

Available on:
Never Let Me Down


David Bowie: vocals, keyboards
Peter Frampton, Carlos Alomar: guitar
Erdal Kızılçay: keyboards, synthesizer, bass guitar, drums
Errol ‘Crusher’ Bennett: percussion
Mickey Rourke: rap

David Bowie: vocals
Reeves Gabrels: lead guitar, rhythm guitar, ambient guitar
David Torn: lead guitar, ambient guitar
Tim Lefebvre: bass guitar
Sterling Campbell: drums
Mario J McNulty: percussion
Steven Wolf: drum programming
Laurie Anderson: spoken word

‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’ appeared on David Bowie’s 1987 album Never Let Me Down.

Despite its gossamer-light melody and inoffensive production, ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’ is one of Bowie’s grittier compositions, its takedown of drug abuse, death, prostitution and crime let down by an insipid chorus.

The song is perhaps the clearest antecedent to Tin Machine’s straight-talking reportage from the seamier sides of life, with topical references to the Chernobyl disaster (as on ‘Time Will Crawl’), the crack cocaine epidemic, and – in the mid-song rap with actor Mickey Rourke – Irish political party Sinn Fein.

A strange little piece. Again, it reflects back-to-street situations, and how people are trying to get together in the face of so many disasters and catastrophes, socially around them, never knowing if they’re going to survive it themselves. The one thing they have got to cling on to is each other; although it might resolve into something terrible, it’s the only thing that they’ve got. It’s just a little love song coming out of that environment. A tribute to Smokey Robinson.
David Bowie
Music & Sound Output, June 1987

Rourke met Bowie in London while the actor was filming A Prayer For The Dying. He asked Bowie to appear on one of the Never Let Me Down songs; Bowie obliged and later described Rourke’s contribution as “method rapping”.

The word ‘star’ occurs in nine song titles released by Bowie, four on the Ziggy Stardust album alone. ‘The Prettiest Star’ was the earliest, and was followed by ‘Starman’, ‘Lady Stardust’, ‘Star’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’, ‘New Killer Star’, ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’, and ‘Blackstar’.

I tried ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’ with another voice, and it just sounded wrong; it needed a high, little voice, a bit Smokey Robinson. That never bothered me, changing voices to suit a song. I don’t think it’s character-changing so much. You can fool about with it.
David Bowie
Musician, August 1987

In December 1986 an early running order for the album was assembled, which contained several differences from the final version. ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love) opened the second half: the running order was ‘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.

On the original vinyl edition of Never Let Me Down, seven songs were edited for length. ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’ was reduced from 5:04 to 4:05.

Bowie rehearsed the song for the Glass Spider Tour, but it was dropped prior to the opening concert.

2018 version

The box set Loving The Alien (1983-1988) was released on 12 October 2018, and contained several versions of ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’ in addition to the one on Never Let Me Down.

It included the Re:Call 4 compilation, which contained the single version of ‘Day-In Day-Out’, and the original vinyl album edits of ‘Beat Of Your Drum’, ‘Glass Spider’, ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’, ‘New York’s In Love’, ‘’87 And Cry’, and ‘Bang Bang’. It also had the album outtakes ‘Julie’ and ‘Girls’ (Extended Edit), and a live ‘promotional mix’ of ‘Bang Bang’.

The set additionally included Dance, a collection of 1980s remixes including ‘Day-In Day Out’ (Groucho Mix), ‘Time Will Crawl’ (Dance Crew Mix), ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’ (12″ Mix), and ‘Never Let Me Down’ (Dub/Acapella). The 12″ mix of ‘Shining Star’ was first released as a download on the 2007 ‘Never Let Me Down’ EP.

The main draw for many was Never Let Me Down (2018), which retained Bowie’s original vocals but added new backing. Produced by Mario J McNulty, it fulfilled a desire expressed by Bowie to rework the album, the songs on which he maintained had been badly recorded.

‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’ (2018) featured guitarists Reeves Gabrels, bassist Tim Lefebvre, drummer Sterling Campbell, percussion by McNulty, and drum programming by Steven Wolf. Although undoubtedly improved, the new version was let down by a protracted fade-out which increased the length unnecessarily to 5:33.

Mickey Rourke’s rap was performed by Laurie Anderson. She and Bowie were friends, and Bowie performed her ‘O Superman’ in concert during the Earthling Tour.

The programming is a mess [on the original] and the rap comes out of nowhere. I was just trying to find the right elements to fit the song. Luckily I know David and Laurie Anderson were good friends and she said yes to this and it was really great of her.
Mario J McNulty
Rolling Stone, 24 July 2018
Previous song: ‘Glass Spider’
Next song: ‘New York’s In Love’
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