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David Bowie - Heathen CD (album) cover

HEATHEN

David Bowie

 

Prog Related

3.79 | 90 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
3 stars They finally got back together! David and Tony.

It took them a hell of a time to do so and expectations were high (remember "Scary Monsters"?). And even if "Heathen" doesn't compete with the scary masterpiece, it is a very fine album.

Typically Bowie, I would say. Little to no risks are taken here. But at this time of his long career, who could blame him for this? This album is easily digested. No weird sounds nor beats (well, almost). Very much in-line with "hours". Not a return to a more tranquil Bowie, but a good follow-up album.

Maybe that melodies are just a little behind, but the man has now enormously grown and he settled a style which will last for another trilogy: "hours", Heathen" and "Reality".

The first few songs are the best ones. Ambient and passionate ("Sunday") which could have been featured on "Heroes", a folkish-rocking one ("Cactus") which is a cover from "The Pixies", a fine rock ballad ("Slip Away") somewhat "Hunky Dorish".

This one has an excellent melody and some good piano work. One of the most emotional song from "Heathen" with some references ("Sailing over Coney Island, Twinkle twinkle Uncle Floyd"). One of my fave from of this album.

While listening to "Slow Burn", one is again projected back in time. Heavy drumming, crying guitar and some "Heroes" atmosphere. A very good start indeed for this album. This track features Pete Townsend on the guitar (this is not his first appearance on a Bowie album).

And it goes on pretty well during "Afraid". An almost new wave beat combined with some fine violin/cello adds a truly great dimension to this good song. Both "Afraid" and "Slip Away" are new versions of very old songs.

Actually, David wanted to release an album full of this type of old songs, almost fully re-invented. It was the "Toy" project which never saw the light (only partially here).

The first weaker moment is the heavier "I've Been Waiting For You". A drastic sound change when compared to "Slip Away" or "Afraid", but not bad to break the melodic/mellowish global mood.

This album just confirmed that David might have been tired with experimentation, not that this album is lacking of fine musical research, just listen to the wonderful keyboards from "I've Been Waiting For You" to be convinced (this is a Neil Young cover).

Now, there are also some blunder here. The first one being the awful "Gemini Spacecraft" from the "Legendary Stardust Cowboy (reminds you something, no)? But the appearance of these electronic beats are just too much here and could have been avoided.

Even if the final part of this work is too much on the mellowish side ("Everyone Says Hi"), it remains enjoyable; almost all the way through. Of course, I guess that very few of you will depict "A Better Future" as a masterpiece and I am not thrilled with the title track either.

In all, "Heathen" is a good album. On top of Townsend, there are some well-known guests (Tony Levin, Jordan Rudess). Seven out of ten. Like "hours", but this time I will downgrade it temporarily (maybe) to three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |

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