Heroes by David Bowie

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Heroes by David Bowie
Heroes by David Bowie

Album Released: 1977

Heroes ::: Artwork

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1.Beauty And The Beast3:32
2.Joe The Lion3:05
4.Sons Of The Silent Age3:15
6.V-2 Schneider3:10
7.Sense Of Doubt3:57
8.Moss Garden5:03
10.The Secret Life Of Arabia3:46


Low Part II. This is the only album in which Bowie repeats himself, sounding pretty much exactly the same as he did on the last one.

Sure, the sound's a bit fuller (an improvement), but the songs are slightly weaker (not an improvement, obviously), but other than that it's virtually a carbon copy: one side of flashy synth-pop songs, one side of self-indulgent ambient doodlings.

The title track was the big hit, at least in Europe, though it's much better in the single version (available on Changesbowie) than in the 6-minute version presented here, whose length allows Bowie to declaim his lyrics in French and German.

"Joe the Lion" and "Sons of the Silent Age" are stunners, but the rest of the pop songs I can live without. And the instrumental side's the instrumental side, which is to say I have no rational use for it, 'cause I'm not into aural wallpaper.

Bowie's 1977 albums would have been much stronger if he had released all the pop material on one album and the ambient material on another - he could have had a killer synth/pop album, and the rest of us could ignore his self-indulgent arty pretentions. As is, both albums are schizophrenic and unsatisfying.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise

The studio experimentation present throughout this album built upon the work that had so successfully produced Low. Tony Visconti for example used electronic 'gates' on the title track, triggered when Bowie hit a certain volume. The reverb was partially natural, partially down to the studio effects.

Saxophone is heard during the instrumentals on Side Two, an embellishment over the instrumentals on Low. Yet, the title song apart, the increased sophistication of the studio team and the musicians present (this time including Robert Fripp on guitar) masks the slightly inferior quality of the compositions themselves, at least when compared to the songs from Low.

Don't get me wrong, any album with a song as magnificent as "Heroes" itself can't possibly be bad, and the surrounding material ably assists.

There's also the deeply strange pop songs "The Secret Life of Arabia" and "Joe the Lion" - not quite such a delirious marriage of melody and experimentation as Low, yet still creating a noise that resembles something addictive, not quite of this earth. Which is most appropriate for Bowie, all things considered.

The instrumentals here are possibly even more spooky than those on Low. "Sense of Doubt" creates an evocative, eerie atmosphere, "V-2 Schieder" something akin to "Speed of Life" in that it's a futuristic poppy instrumental.

"Moss Garden" is swathed in synths and gentle mellowness, with a tiny melody that pops up to keep you interested. The European theme is continued with "Neukoln", a twisted instrumental making good use of sax, lending the entire piece a 1930's-40's feel.

Heroes is a good album in its own right, yet not as structured as Low, nor with the stronger melodies of Low, even lacking the vocal delights of Low. My rating reflects how often I actually have any desire to play this disc - it's a colder album than Low ... indeed, too cold in places.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

David Bowie was never one to repeat himself, but he did like to make sequels. That's why - just like Low - half of this album consists of drugged-up dance tunes, and the other half is anguished instrumentals.

The main difference is that everything here is lusher and more atmospheric, which for my money marks an improvement over Low. So if Low was an empty mansion, Heroes is the same mansion with lots of decoration. Maybe some interior decorators might think this album has more decoration than it needs, but I happen to like the decoration!

Also unlike Low, this is the album with “Heroes” on it, one of the greatest songs ever written. Pretty much everything about that song is brilliant ... Bowie's melody may be rather simple, but it's catchy and powerful, making plenty of room for Brian Eno's electronic fireworks. These guys somehow managed to maintain a drugged-up atmosphere while keeping the overall experience upbeat and accessible - probably more difficult than it seems! But the star of this show has to be the lyrics and Bowie's vocal performance (and singling out lyrics and vocal performances in a David Bowie song is exceptionally rare) - the lyrics about a pair trying to maintain love across the Berlin Wall hits me square in my soul, and he sings it as though he was experiencing it himself. It's romantic in a very dark and twisted way, and I like it.

Even though everything else on this album isn't “Heroes”, the songs all rule quite mercilessly in their own right. The two opening tracks “Beauty and the Beast” and “Joe the Lion” are two of the catchiest and most danceable tunes that Bowie had ever come up with. These are the sorts of songs that are infectious enough to have worked perfectly on a disco floor back in 1977, but still artsy-fartsy enough such that you don't feel like a dope for listening to them. Maybe they were too short and complex to have been hits with the mainstream crowd (and they weren't very popular as far as I can tell), but at least us music geeks know of their appeal.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

For the first time in the 70's it seems Bowie lapsed into a formula, returning to Berlin with Visconti and Eno to record another album, with an instrumental side and a song-based side.

While Heroes follows the Low template, where Low felt both groundbreaking and natural, Heroes feels more contrived, with the two sides having distinct identities - the instrumentals less accessible than before, and the songs longer and more arranged - losing the natural flow of Low and instead feeling like a pair of EPs sellotaped together.

On the positive side, a new band member for the record is King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, and his addition to Bowie's already virtuoso and idiosyncratic band means that Heroes sounds terrific even if the material or the conceptual approach is sometimes lacking. While Fripp and Eno have collaborated on many other projects, it's interesting to hear them in the context of a funky modernistic rhythm section, where they're merely hired musicians, fighting for attention within a dynamic band.

Objections about formula aside, the real problem with Heroes is that the instrumental second side isn't that interesting. As well as losing the novelty factor of Low, more crucially the material just isn't as carefully-constructed as its predecessor, more like jams with interesting textures than expressions of emotions.

On the other hand, the first side is strong, opening with the claustrophobic "Beauty and the Beast", and centred on the 6-minute title track, a suicide pact tale that was somehow co-opted into an uplifting anthem in much the same way that Springsteen's "Born in the USA" would in the next decade.

The album tracks push the envelope even further. "Blackout" is impressionistic and cathartic, while Bowie's phrasing gives "Joe the Lion" a weird energy. There's also a full song tacked onto the end of the instrumental side, the funky piano groove of "The Secret Life of Arabia", and although it's sequenced like an afterthought, it's arguably the strongest song on the disc.

While Heroes is relatively weak by Bowie standards for this stage of his career, it's still cut from the same cloth as his contemporaneous works, so it's hard to imagine any fan of late-70's Bowie being too disappointed.

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by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia (blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct])