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David Bowie - Heroes CD (album) cover


David Bowie


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4.04 | 393 ratings

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5 stars "HEROES" is one of those albums that just carry you along; its sweep is relentless. It may take you a couple of spins before you get into its spirit, though, since much of the original A-side emits an atmosphere of panic and confusion. If the A-side of its predecessor, LOW, sounded neat, symmetrical and depressed, typical "HEROES" tracks like "Blackout" and "Joe the Lion" are full of tension and fear. It is well known that Bowie recorded this album from the base up, i.e. he first recorded all the instruments; he then went back to the studio and more or less improvised the vocals. It may be for this reason that the album sounds so spontaneous and wild, and that most of the lyrics sound incoherent! The album's dark and experimental mood had a considerable influence on New Wave bands like XTC and Wire, as did Iggy Pop's LUST FOR LIFE and THE IDIOT, to which Bowie contributed.

There's not a single uninspired track on the A-side - something that distinguishes "HEROES" from its lacklustre successor LODGER. Most people, of course, will be familiar with the glorious title track, which can be found smack-dab in the middle of the side. Throughout the years I've had to cope, first with a girlfriend who thought the live version on STAGE sounded superior (it does not) just because she owned a copy of STAGE, and now with three daughters who think nothing can beat Ewan McGregor's performance in MOULIN ROUGE! I'd like to think "Heroes" is one of those tracks nothing will destroy. I heard Nico do her live version in the early eighties, and there was no climax worth speaking of but it was still a great song.

The album's B-side has to be just about the proggiest sequence of music Bowie ever recorded, with its explicit homage to Krautrock bands like Neu and Kraftwerk, and with various electronic keyboards producing loads of nicely floating sounds! "Moss Garden" was probably meant to evoke gardens Bowie visited in Kyoto, and I must say Bowie uses the Japanese koto in a highly imaginative way. For an artist who tends to leave solos to various members of his band, he expresses himself very eloquently, movingly even. The album closer, "The Secret Life of Arabia", is a hoot. Out of the darkness, into the light, as Indonesian proggers Discus would have it.

"HEROES" is one of the indisputable highlights of the Bowie canon. Of all of his albums it's the only one that is indisputably "a masterpiece of progressive rock". Bowie has taken on styles first developed by renowned progressive musicians like Eno and Can, he has succeeded in giving them a twist of his own, and he has made excellent use of some of prog's most original artists (Robert Fripp, Eno himself) in the process. Five stars may sound like an underestimate.

fuxi | 5/5 |


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