Review Summary: This is not Ziggy Stardust. This is not The Duke. This is not the Berlin Trilogy, this is just David Bowie. No more, no less.
It is needless to say that the magnificently odd and iconic man named David Bowie is nothing short of a legend. A god among men in the eyes of some. A musical genius that has been inspiring musicians and new breeds of rock stars since the 60's. Bowie's musical career has been a constantly changing force, from his trippy folk roots on Space Oddity
, to his glam rock Ziggy Stardust persona, to the cocaine fuelled days of the soulful Thin White Duke, to post-disco rock on Let's Dance
. Even nearing the new millennium Bowie changed with the times and adapted a new electronic vibe resulting in a collaboration/tour with Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor.
Bowie's career has been relatively consistent since the very beginning, most would agree that his prime was during the Ziggy Stardust
and Diamond Dog
days , but really even then his prime never actually ended. It was not until the 90's when a few mishaps and bad career choices resulted in some not so desirable 'David Bowie' albums, although nothing too drastically terrible. Regardless though it was about this time people started to write Bowie off, saying that the man was getting to old and his time in the music industry was coming to an end. His albums like Earthling
and Never Let Me Down
were just not cutting in anymore. Bowie needed to release something that would put him back on the map, and with his 2002 album Heathen
, Bowie accomplished just that.
The album ditched most of the heavy duty industrial sounds of his recent albums and went back to just his classic rocking guitar and saxophone sound. Opening with the track "Sunday," Bowie introduces the listener to the album with his easy going and mellow voice with a very light layer of synthesizer noises that steadily pick up as the song grows and swells till the drums kick in about midway through giving the track a nice edge to it. While not a particularly fantastic song, "Sunday" is what it is and stands as just a simple opener for an album it very much misrepresents.
It is the following track, a cover of the Pixies song "Cactus," where the album really unfolds. The cover is absolutely fantastic and is definitely one of the best tracks of the album. The song consists of a very fast acoustic guitar riff that opens the song as Bowie sings the very strange lyrics about wearing your lovers clothing in a desert. The song is primarily acoustic but there is quite a bit of drums and a few synthesizers to add a loud more arena-rock element to the song. Another of the stronger tracks of the album is "Slow Burn," a Grammy-nominated single about the slow destruction of the world. While the instrumentals are not anything to get too excited about, the vocals really take hold of this song and turn it into something really beautiful and fantastic. No one else could really sing this song and do it justice, it is Bowie's distinctive singing style that make it such an interesting and worthy listen.
is not nearly as phenomenal as say Ziggy Stardust
, but comparing this album to Bowie's classic albums will just distract from the true excellence of it. Although tracks like "I Would Be Your Slave" and "5:15 The Angles Have Gone" can sometimes feel as just filler tracks, songs like "Afraid" easily make up for the lost time. "Afraid" stands on par with the "Slow Burn" and "Cactus" as the best of the album, "Afraid" being the most like "classic" David Bowie. The song is just a pure rock song, most of those silly synthesizers were cut out and extra electric guitars were thrown in resulting in a very powerful song about fears of the future, the song sound extremely similar to what could be a leftover track from the Diamond Dog's-era, just what we have been waiting for. Bowie has proved that even after 40 years in the business he has still got what it takes to put out a very enjoyable record for the masses. The man isn't done just yet.