Monday, August 24, 2009

David Bowie 14: “Heroes”

Coming very quickly on the heels of its predecessor (along with two Iggy Pop albums and a tour playing keyboards in that band), “Heroes” has Bowie following a similar template to Low, split predominantly between vocal and instrumental sides. But this isn’t a straight copy. For one, occasional Eno-pal Robert Fripp adds his guitar all over the mix. He’s that clarion you hear on the title track, which is still a hypnotic tune even if it’s worn out its welcome via classic rock radio and some ill-advised cover versions.
Most of the other vocal tracks seem to follow the same Burroughsian cut-up technique first used on Diamond Dogs. Even if we know the inspiration behind or beneath “Beauty And The Beast”, which opens the album on a discordant, hesitant note, what it comes down to is whether the songs work or not. And for the most part, they do. “Joe The Lion” and “Sons Of The Silent Age” are two other songs that occasionally turn up onstage, each sporting a memorable bridge. The same can’t be said for “Blackout”, which closes the side.
“V-2 Schneider” opens the second side, and is something of a tribute to Kraftwerk. The centerpiece is three connected tracks—“Sense Of Doubt”, “Moss Garden” and “Neükoln”—that each sound like their titles, and are all pretty scary. “The Secret Life Of Arabia” is memorable simply for diffusing the dread by ending the album in the disco.
While it may not be as consistent as Low, Bowie seemed a little more confident on “Heroes”, and the album remains fascinating today. (Ryko’s bonus tracks numbered two this time: an unnecessary remix of “Joe The Lion” and another era instrumental. Odd how they didn’t bother to include the French- and German-language versions of the title track, but those would end up on other repackages down the road.)

David Bowie “Heroes” (1977)—
1991 Rykodisc: same as 1977, plus 2 extra tracks

1 comment:

  1. "...which is still a hypnotic tune even if it’s worn out its welcome via classic rock radio and some ill-advised cover versions."

    I like that song so much, not even its use in all those Microsoft commercials a while back could spoil it for me.

    Vance

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