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Album Review

Heathen marks a new beginning for David Bowie in some ways — it's his first record since leaving Virgin, his first for Columbia Records, his first for his new label, ISO — yet it's hardly a new musical direction. Like Hours, this finds Bowie sifting through the sounds of his past, completely at ease with his legacy, crafting a colorful, satisfying album that feels like a classic Bowie album. That's not to say that Heathen recalls any particular album or any era in specific, yet there's a deliberate attempt to recapture the atmosphere, the tone of his '70s work — there's a reason that Bowie decided to reteam with Tony Visconti, the co-producer of some of his best records, for this album — even if direct comparisons are hard to come by. Which is exactly what's so impressive about this album. Bowie and Visconti never shy away from electronic instrumentations or modern production — if anything, they embrace it — but it's woven into Bowie's sound subtly, never drawing attention to the drum loops, guitar synths, and washes of electronica. For that matter, guest spots by Dave Grohl and Pete Townshend (both on guitar) don't stand out either; they're merely added texture to this an album that's intricately layered, but always plays smoothly and alluringly. And, make no mistake, this is an alluring, welcoming, friendly album — there are some moody moments, but Bowie takes Neil Young's eerie "I've Been Waiting for You" and Pixies' elusively brutal, creepy "Cactus" and turns them sweet, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, either. In the end, that's the key to Heathen — the undercurrent of happiness, not in the lyrics, but in the making of music, a realization by Bowie and Visconti alike that they are perfect collaborators. Unlike their previous albums together, this doesn't boldly break new ground, but that's because, 22 years after their last collaboration, Scary Monsters, both Bowie and Visconti don't need to try as hard, so they just focus on the craft. The result is an understated, utterly satisfying record, his best since Scary Monsters, simply because he'd never sounded as assured and consistent since.

Customer Reviews

Bowie's Best In Years

Bowie's best in years. Most guitar driven album since Scary Monsters. Speaking of which, Pete Townsend returns to guest on Slow Burn, an album highlight. Epic cover of Neil Young's I've Been Waiting For You. Cactus is good fun but is one of the least essential tracks here. Gemini Spaceship seems tailor made. Sunday is the most haunting & atmospheric track, bringing Scott Walker to mind. The eerie quirkiness of Slip Away is vintage Bowie & Everyone Says Hi, is as catchy as it gets. As for the rest---not bad. After producing most of Bowie's classic 70's work, producer Tony Visconti returns to twiddle the knobs. Where Bowie's post Let's Dance output seemed cluttered, cold or at worst, uninspired, Visconti brings a warmth & space & atmosphere long missing. In terms of late career Bowie---this is the one to get.

Over and over

1 mans opinion, this is an album that gains depth both sonically and lyrically with each listen. I have been returning to this album time and again for the past two years and am always rewarded.

people come on...

Bowie keeps getting better and better the more you listen to him. The tone, range, and the voice control is amazing, like on "everyone says 'Hi'" it's simple, but not to simple, and yet so easy to listen to. more people should listen to him, or at least write a review.


Genre: Rock

The cliché about David Bowie says he's a musical chameleon, adapting himself according to fashion and trends. While such a criticism is too glib, there's no denying that Bowie demonstrated remarkable skill for perceiving musical trends at his peak in the '70s. After spending several years in the late '60s as a mod and as an all-around music-hall entertainer, Bowie reinvented himself as a hippie singer/songwriter. Prior to his breakthrough in 1972, he recorded a proto-metal record and a pop/rock album,...
Full Bio
Heathen, David Bowie
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Arena Rock, Prog-Rock/Art Rock, Pop, Pop/Rock
  • Released: Jun 11, 2002

Customer Ratings