Heathen by David Bowie

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Heathen by David Bowie
Heathen by David Bowie

Album Released: 2002

Heathen ::: Artwork

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3.Slip Away6:05
4.Slow Burn4:41
6.I've Been Waiting For You3:00
7.I Would Be Your Slave5:14
8.I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship4:06
9.5'15 The Angels Have Gone5:02
10.Everyone Says "Hi"3:58
11.A Better Future4:11
12.Heathen (The Rays)4:18


Takes an age to get into, does Heathen.

I like it though, after the many characters David Bowie has played in the past, it's nice to have an honest and open David Bowie record that's also interesting. He's an old man now, and has an eloquent way of working into his songs references to writer's block, fading away, and the everyday struggles of a man his age.

For those who don't like 'dance-bowie', Heathen still contains a couple of dancey/Techno moments, though they're in the minority. For the most part, Bowie and producer Toni Visconti use technology to enhance the sound and essence of songs that are already 90% there, which is better than many artists who dress skeletal ideas in a fancy-dress production.

Heathen on the other hand has a beating heart, not the heart of Ziggy nor the Thin White Duke, not even the heart of David Bowie, instead we get to hear the heart of David Jones - a middle-aged man's reflections leading to a man raging against the light.

There are some wonderful tunes on this album, actual tunes that no amount of layered production could ruin (unlike past Bowie albums). For Heathen, the Visconti production only works to enhance the songs. The Bowie vocals chords don't sound as great as they once did, but that is used to the record's advantage. He doesn't overreach himself.

"I Would Be Your Slave" and "Slow Burn" are two mid-tempo tunes that as far as mid-tempo tunes go, are absolutely captivating, and the dancey and oh-so-happy "A Better Future" closes the record on an very appropriate note. "5.15 The Angels Have Gone" is this album's masterpiece though, where you can hear David Jones.

Heathen is an excellent set of songs, not the most exciting album you'll ever hear perhaps, but it does offer addictive long-term listening. It's an album I'd confidently estimate will still be seen as an important work in ten or twenty years time.

Rated: album ratingalbum ratingalbum ratingalbum ratingalbum ratingalbum ratingalbum rating
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

I anticipate people shaking their heads in disbelief that I've awarded an album like this a perfect score - albums from aging rock stars aren't supposed to be perfect.

But then, maybe I'm shaking my head in disbelief too, that this album doesn't pop up on any best-of-decade lists. I suppose there's plenty of art that comes about with little fanfare, that only receives great acclaim years later. Maybe Bowie's Heathen will be one of them.

This album hits me every time I listen to it ... even when I think it won't, it does. It came out of nowhere too. Bowie's previous album Hours had a few nice songs for sure, but as a whole it was underwhelming. Nobody could've predicted this follow-up would be a masterpiece, where every single song on it has an interesting melody, beautiful orchestration, and is filled with moving vocal performances.

Much of the credit for the orchestration goes to Tony Visconti, who hadn't collaborated with Bowie for twenty years. Some people go on to credit Visconti with helping Bowie find his mojo again. The instrumentals are absolutely perfect - polished and easy on the ears - but they are also gritty and grimy or have a sweeping string section when required.

Is there a little bit of humor too? Not really - this is a serious and sullen album. However, I do find the high-pitched 50's sci-fi theremin in the background of “I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship” to be wildly amusing.

When it comes to picking a favorite song, the task is almost impossible. “Slip Away” is a good candidate, being an atmospheric though moody piano ballad. It's apparently a redone version of a song Bowie had written back in the 1960's, but the production standards are such that it could have only come out of the '00s (Bowie had been working on an album called Toy that was later shelved, which contained redone versions of some of his old songs, most of which never made it onto his albums).

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