David Bowie
Heroes


5.0
classic

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
August 5th, 2011 | 40 replies | 6,158 views


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: We could be heroes…

1977 was a magical year for music, thanks in no small part to David Bowie. Having refreshed and directed Iggy Pop’s solo career, co-writing The Idiot and Lust For Life; the same year saw Bowie rejuvenating his own career upon the release his groundbreaking Low album in January. Despite achieving all this before summer had even broken out, Bowie deepened his machine-like status by summoning Eno and Visconti to Berlin to begin work on the second album of what would come to be known as his Berlin trilogy.

Now living in Berlin, Bowie reduced his cocaine intake to a leisurely rather than a habitual pace, and begun enjoying his life, taking in the sights and scenes of the divided city, visiting art galleries and various nightlife spots, and perhaps in replacement to the void left by his severance of cocaine abuse; developed a drinking habit. The effect of his recent freedom and the experience of exploring and absorbing the delights of a new city rubbed off on Bowie, and as such, the album feels more optimistic and lighter than Low, but still retains that essential undercurrent of darkness and paranoia.

Joining Eno, Visconti and the band from the Low sessions at the spacious Hansa Studio 2 (some 500 yards from the Berlin Wall) was ex-King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. His unique lead work adds to the difference in sound Heroes boasts from Low; bringing to life classics like the title track, whose soaring riff is indebted to Fripp. ‘Heroes’ is one of the greatest songs of its time - an epic marked by Bowie’s sublime vocals (building from a deep croon to a throaty, histrionic shriek), a glorious whirlwind of tampered-with guitars, Eno wizardry, and equivocal lyrics - at once both optimistic and cynical.

In many ways Heroes is similar to it’s older brother. It follows the same pattern of placing the lyrical tracks on side 1 and the instrumentals on the latter half, apart from the misplaced false exotica of the eastern-tinged ‘The Secret Life Of Arabia’ - a track which would come to make sense with the hindsight of Lodger in 1979. Both lyrically and musically the album sounds familiar to Low - Eno’s endless tampering with electronics returns, as does Bowie’s expressionistic, non-linear lyrics.

But crucially, Heroes manages to mark itself out as an individual album, and an experience that works just as strongly alone as it does alongside its partner albums. The songs are less fractured and cold than last time, with numbers like the exhilarating opener (‘Beauty And The Beast’) boasting a fuller sound. Gurgling electronics and a cosmopolitan mix of sounds make for a shockingly invigorating experience when compared to the frenetic splinters of noise that Low offered. Particular highlights on side one include the glorious ‘Joe The Lion’, the dizzy fairground-waltz of ‘Sons Of The Silent Age’, and the progressive, krautrock influenced ‘V-2 Schneider’.

The instrumental half is also markedly different to Low. The barren, alien landscapes are replaced by a less compelling, but more diverse collection of ambient pieces; taking in the delights of the serene ‘Moss Garden’, the screaming sax ending to the gloomy Neukoln, and the tide-like wash of synth that undercuts the ominous piano on ‘Sense Of Doubt’. They all work splendidly; each track’s sound paints a vivid sonic picture of the song title.

Heroes, for all it’s differences, is essentially more of the same and that’s precisely why it shapes up as a fantastic record. It presents a slightly more optimistic and refreshing slant on Low’s formula for those who couldn’t stomach its icy, fractured melodies, whilst still sounding similar enough to its predecessor to be hailed as the natural successor to what Low blueprinted. It may not gather as much credit as Low, simply because that album came first, but over the years it’s received the mass of critical acclaim it ultimately deserves. And rightly so, as Heroes is just as thrilling and essential as Low, managing to shake things up just enough to separate itself from its similarly outstanding older brother, resulting in yet another glistening highlight in Bowie’s extensive catalogue of genius.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
omnipanzer
August 5th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have to admit you kind of leave me behind with this album. I think I've listened to it once and that
was a long time ago. Out side of the title track I don't think I remember anything else off of it. I
attempted to download it in prep for today review but I couldn't find it. Album is criminally
underrated... by me. :^(

Digging: The Ettes - Shake the Dust

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

4 = : (

omnipanzer
August 5th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fanboy 4 out of respect.... after reading your review I think I need to hear this again stat. Edit: up
through Let's Dance I think it is the only album I am truly kind of unfamiliar with tbh.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Fair enough, omni. Give this another spin mate - i know scores are subjective but 4 seems a little too low. Plus i think this record is a grower - took me longer to get into it than Low but when i did i couldn't stop playing it.

fsharptrit0ne
August 5th 2011



4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

‘Heroes’ is one of the greatest songs of all time

Fixed

omni, listen to this more!

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 5th 2011



5974 Comments


You are an unstoppable reviewing force, man.

Kudos.

Digging: Lisa Gerrard - Twilight Kingdom

omnipanzer
August 5th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yah, Like I said I couldn't find it otherwise I would be listening to it right now. I'll need to spend a little more time finding it this weekend.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks, Voivod.


Meatplow
August 5th 2011



5524 Comments


now here is a rating, and review I can agree with

love, love, love this album

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Jooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeee the Lion ; )

fsharptrit0ne
August 5th 2011



4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think Moss Garden is my favorite instrumental on this.. hmm.. yea

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

My favourite instruemental on this is 'Sense of Doubt'. Love that ominous paino.

fsharptrit0ne
August 5th 2011



4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's either Moss Garden or SoD. V-2 Schneider is such a fun song

BigHans
August 5th 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

I WOULD BE KING

fsharptrit0ne
August 5th 2011



4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The video for "Heroes" is so odd, yet so inviting

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Yup i love me some V-2 Schneider, and of course i love Heroes too, Hans.

Parallels
August 5th 2011



6641 Comments


i love this album soooo much
fav bowie album

omnipanzer
August 5th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What time do you think you'll be posting tomorrow Major Tom?

Nomad
August 5th 2011



247 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Favourite Bowie right here. Blackout is sooo good. Good review as always.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks Nomad.

Ill be posting the same time as always do. I don't know where you are in the world but I'm in the UK and I post, normally, at 2.30 - 3.00. Why'd you ask, anyway? : )



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