David Bowie
Heathen


3.5
great

Review

by Dylan S. USER (68 Reviews)
September 27th, 2010 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

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.

Obviously Heathen 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.



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When David has faith in Bowie again…...


Comments:Add a Comment 
dylantheairplane
September 27th 2010


2170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hey I wrote a review!


This album was desperately needing one.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2010


7311 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Excellent review. And yes, I was surprised to find out this hadn't been reviewed yet o.O

Fluorine
September 28th 2010


104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There...are a bunch of things I disagree with here. But my main quibble is that oftentimes, I feel like people are too hesitant to like the work of old people. They attribute a career with some apex, and figure everything afterwards to be an over-the-hill thing vying for some former glory, a semblance of what he/she once was. Bowie is not one to dwell in the past, and so no one else should. Take Heathen as it is. I think it's a lovely album.
Also, in no possible way (in my mind) can the musical clusterfuck/masterpiece Earthling be put on par with Never Let Me Down.

Chrisjon89
September 28th 2010


3734 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review man. Small error in the 2nd paragraph where you say Heathen was a 2003 release.

I still need to pick this up - I've only heard a few of these songs.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Ire
September 28th 2010


41795 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love this album. Good review as well

dylantheairplane
September 28th 2010


2170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

*fixed the date error, thanks for pointing that out.

and Fluorine I really don't get your point. I mean I know what you're saying about people writing off older musicians, but I mention that a couple times in the review so I don't understand why you say you disagree.

LepreCon
September 28th 2010


4143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Anyone who doesn't like Bowie needs their heads checked, good review

Fluorine
September 28th 2010


104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh I disagree in that I think Sunday is an epic stand-out, Slow Burn is a mess, 5.15 and Slave are beautiful, etc.
I mean I really do disagree with everything said except that Bowie is a legend and all that good stuff, but it's all okay. You and I just like different parts of the album and Bowie's career, I guess

dylantheairplane
September 29th 2010


2170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agree to disagree I suppose

Titan50
September 29th 2010


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Slow Burn is one of his best post-Scary Monsters songs

Lord Moe
May 3rd 2011


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

my favorite song on this album is definitely "Heathen (the Rays)." So dark and beautiful, I'm surprised no one ever talks about it.

Jarvig
June 1st 2011


168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bowies best album since Scary Monsters.
This is neo-classic Bowie. Not a copy of his earlier work but where he takes good elements from all
his catalogue.

No outstanding songs.
But very good songs are: Sunday, Cactus (Pixies cover), Slip Away, Slow Burn, I've Been Waiting for
You (Neil Young cover), Everyone Says Hi and Heathen

jcawley1970
March 4th 2012


1 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is one of his most memorable ones in the last 20 years...that's not saying much since DB only had about five total memorable songs in that period. But this album is completely listenable. If he could've just let go of the "German Spaceship", it would have had a very enjoyable flow.

My favorites: Sunday, Slip Away, Slow Burn, 5:15, Heathen (The Rays)

JohnP
June 8th 2012


15 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

As with most Bowie albums post Tin Machine, I listened to this a lot when it came out, loved it, listened to it for about two months and then put it away in my CD collection, never to be listened to again. Therein lies the problem; the voice is fantastic, the production is wonderful (as ever, Tony), the instrumentation perfect...but the songs are not memorable. He has not written a great song since Scary Monsters and Supercreeps. He knows how to structure great songs, he knows how to deliver, he knows how to put together a great group of instrumentalists, but the creative spark went out a long time ago. I wonder if he should have taken a different direction in 1981. Ah, the path not taken etc etc...

ThroneOfAgony
August 10th 2012


3485 Comments


Gonna look into this tonight for sure

sinsexsodomy
November 15th 2012


223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This and Outside are my favorite post Scary Monsters albums. In all honesty, I think his 90's and early 2000's output is exceptional for an artist "past their prime".

omnipanzer
February 13th 2013


21621 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Slow Burn is such a great song.

Digging: We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unravelling



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