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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At long last: a return to form and a GREAT Bowie album
'Heathen' is by far the most interesting Bowie album since 'Scary Monsters' (1980), and, in my view, it surpasses the latter, which is often used as a benchmark to judge Bowie's subsequent output. The sound is excellent with lots of interesting musical effects and textures. Best of all is Bowie's voice which is strong and emotional, evident on the best songs on the...
Published on 14 Jun 2002

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only half great really
Heathen is one of Bowie's better recent albums (and a vast improvement over the dreadful drum & bass fiasco that was Earthling) but I think it's been a little overrated by fans who have heralded it as his `best since Scary Monsters'. I actually prefer the previous `hours...' album, which is more understated and low key but rewards repeated listens. Nevertheless, Heathen...
Published on 11 Dec 2008 by M Evans


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At long last: a return to form and a GREAT Bowie album, 14 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
'Heathen' is by far the most interesting Bowie album since 'Scary Monsters' (1980), and, in my view, it surpasses the latter, which is often used as a benchmark to judge Bowie's subsequent output. The sound is excellent with lots of interesting musical effects and textures. Best of all is Bowie's voice which is strong and emotional, evident on the best songs on the album, such as 'Sunday' (the Moby remix is even more powerful than Bowie's own), 'Slip Away', 'Slow Burn', 'I would be Your Slave', '5.15: The Angels Have Gone', and the title track. It is fantastic to have a Bowie album that is simply so damn interesting. 'Slip Away' finds Bowie in Proustian mode in search of lost time and creating memory; 'Slow Burn' is truly awesome with electrifying guitar from Pete Townshend which serves to musically capture the beautiful desperation of the song; 'Afraid' intriguingly captures the songwriting spirit of mid 1960s' Bowie and yet sounds authentically 'now'; 'I Would be Your Slave' is Bowie at his sublime best and is quite remarkable, only Bowie could write and perform such a song; the title track 'Heathen' is both beautiful and sublime in turn and could have run on musically for a further five or ten minutes; these are just some of the highlights from a glorious and magnificent album. If the album has a downside it is, for me, the inclusion of the three covers, which seem without real point and distract from the quality of Bowie's own songwriting. Bowie does them well but they are not 'Bowie'. I would have preferred the inclusion of tracks like 'Jackson Wood' which, for reasons known only to himself, he left off the album in favour of the covers. Bowie is best when he is being Bowie - the difference can be heard in the difference between the cover of the Neil Young love song 'I've Been Waiting for You'(which I find a mess) and the great authentic Bowie love song 'I Would Be Your Slave'. For anyone who likes Bowie this is a real treat of an album and has a real majesty and integrity to it. It reveals all the principal altercating and paradoxical sides of Bowie: at once naive and innocent, dark and desirous, brooding and alienated, hopeful and expectant. An album for our complex and troubled times, an album for believers and unbelievers in the past and the future. As his 25th studio album, this record also finally reveals an important truth: that in spite of all the so-called and celebrated 'ch ch ch ch changes' that have characterised his musical odyssey, there is an 'essential' David Bowie, one that is singular, unique, and incomparable, and that is marked by an often overlooked emotional sublimity and intensity as well as musical experimentation. Bowie has been searching his soul and seeking to connect with the world for a long time and this is an overriding constancy of his work to date. It could be his leitmotif. Nothing's gonna change his world.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heathen - A haunting and thought-provoking album., 13 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
I am going to break a trend here, rather than compare this to the 'good ol'days of Scary Monsters and Ziggy, I am going to say that 'Heathen' is unlike any other Bowie album.
At first, the songs seem almost gentle; beautifully melodic with soul-wrenching harmonies. Then, once the initial curiosity settles, and the meaning behind some of the songs starts filtering through, its impact is staggering.
David Bowie always was a deep thinker. Never was that more apparent than with this album. One gets the feeling that becoming a father again has really struck home. 'Better Future' speaks for itself, whilst 'Slip Away' harks wistfully back to memories of a world that was once simple.
The title track is undoubtedly the most powerful, written before September 11th 2001, yet disturbingly prophetic.
It's not all deep thinking - the light relief is there in the form of 'Everyone Says Hi', clearly written for little Alexandria, (yet nowhere near as nauseating as 'kooks'), and a wonderfully quirky cover of 'I took a trip on a Gemini Spaceship', a song penned by 'The Legendary Stardust Cowboy'. Legend has it that they both shared the same record label in the early seventies, and David Bowie stole the 'Stardust' part of the Cowboy's name for Ziggy.. Years later, Bowie visited the aforementioned artist's homepage, and found a rather miffed comment saying that as Bowie had never paid him anything for using his name, the least he could do was sing one of his songs.. The rest is history.
'I Would Be Your Slave' deals with spirituality and the need to have faith in something, even if the ideal of 'God' is imperfect.
'Cactus' has just the right level of malevolent sexuality; it could almost have been written for Bowie, and it sounds as though it's going to be a stunner live..
It's well worth spending a few extra pennies to get the limited edition, if only for the wonderful treatment of 'Conversation Piece'. The 'Air' mix of 'Better Future' is interesting, and equally as good as the unmixed version, as is Moby's treatment of 'Sunday'
Perhaps with the exception of 1.Outside, this is the best album that David Bowie has produced for many years; it places you on an apocalyptic knife edge of desperation; forlorn hope for the future balanced perfectly with longing for the stability and comfort of a potted ham and ginger beer past that exists somewhere in our collective subconsciousness.
Buy it. Definitely. You won't be disappointed.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Return to Form?, 22 Jun 2002
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
One review of Heathen said that every time Bowie releases a new album, it is heralded by critics the world over as Bowie's return to form, since the doldrums of the mid '80s pop sellout, only for months later the critics to realise that it's actually just as bad as all the others...
This, his first album since the tuneful but dissapointing Hours..., has had exactly the same treatment, except that this time, the cliche that is "His best since Scary Monsters" is entirely justified, beacause with Heathen, Bowie has managed to rediscover three things: his unique ability to construct a wonderful tune, his lyrical inventivity and his talent at making a beautifully flowing album.
Sunday, the album's opener, is an incredibly pretentious and majestic song, which builds slowly to an incredible climax. A wonderful opening song. In Slip Away, the former Thin White Duke has made one of his best songs in years. Emotionally delivered and with a beautiful tune to boot, this is perhaps the albums highlight. Other great songs are I Would Be Your Slave (a paranoid and moving love ballad) and Everyone Says Hi (a little ditty with a catchy tune which works brilliantly). But Bowie isn't just fantastic with his own work, and on Heathen, he turns his talents towards the work of three other artists, covering the Pixie's 'Cactus', The Legendary Stardust Cowboy's 'I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spacecraft' and Neil Young's 'I've Been Waiting For You'. All are exectued to perfection, and Cactus, a song which suits Bowie down to the ground, is particularly good.
In truth, Heathen doesn't have a bad track, the closest being Afraid, and in the final song, Heathen (The Rays), Bowie has made yet another masterpiece to add to his repertoire. The opening single, Slow Burn, is Bowie's best single release in years, with the legendary Pete Townshed giving a guitar performance filled with verve, enthusiasm and energy. Overall, Heathen is an album made and executed wonderfully. Much of this has to do with the return of produced Tony Visconti, who famously produced many of Bowie's greatest albums (including the aforementioned Scary Monsters...), and who's talents with string arrangements are highly in evidence, especially in I Would Be Your Slave and Afraid. However, more important than anything else, Bowie now sounds like he cares about and feels for his music again. His voice has matured beautifully, and instead of slipping quietly into mediocrity as many artists of his generation have done, Bowie continues to surprise and delight.
A return to form? Most definitely.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Definite Return To Form, 10 Jun 2002
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
It may not be the world changing form of the 1970s albums, but Heathen celebrates Bowie's return to true songwriting form. Deeply incisive about the present atmosphere of not only music but world issues.
Bowie's subject matters have however not changed but instead he writes with the dark thoughts and fears not uncovered so clearly since 1980's Scary Monsters. It seems that the joy of a new child has coincided with the world going to hell and Bowie is all to aware what a sad state of affairs this is.
The album is musically the closest Bowie has come to the classic sound of Scary Monsters, not unconnected to that album's producer Tony Visconti's return to the producers chair.
Most importantly it is Bowie's most instant material for years, without sacrificing any artistic qualities. Tracks like "I Would Be Your Slave" and "Everyone Says Hi" sound like readymade singles but with a classic sound of longevity that Bowie is best remembered for.
Judging by this album, the next time Bowie ventures into a studio the result may well be the best music he has ever made.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great Bowie album, 8 Mar 2013
By 
M. S. Skeldon (Coventry, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
I was 22 when this came out and I've had 11 years to digest it, as well as learning more about the themes of this album as you go through life.

I know at the time it was referred to as some kind of come back or return to form, but it didn't feel like that. Hours was only 3 years previous and he was headlining Glastonbury in 2000, so it was not really like he's been away for that long, and it's a long time since Tin Machine and Never let me down. The 90's produced a lot of great work from Bowie, if not resulting in a 'perfect' album. But then he never really did albums that were flawless and there's a very good and important reason for that.

Bowie isn't about just delivering run of the mill songs that keep mums' happy while they drive to ASDA (that's why god invented Coldplay), so you have to expect to be challenged and often taken to different places, musically, that you didn't always want to go. Earthling is a good example, but a lot of the times it's rewarding, and it's never dull.

Therefore Heathen is also an album that is perhaps not flawless too, but it's damn close. You have to go back to Outside for an album that competes with heathen, and before Outside you're talking 70's albums before you find one that competes. Personally I think it's bloated with 3 covers and I could lose A better future without shedding many tears, but the remaining songs and (admittedly the cover of Gemini Spaceship) are very very good indeed.

It's not always a 'fun' greatest hits party album, as the album title suggests it deals with some serious issues, but when the time and mood is right this album can be as rewarding as any other. Given the scoring system of 5 stars, it's difficult to rate this accurately. Is this the best Bowie album? No. Is it close? Yes. I can only give it 4 stars for that reason, but as an album it's in the top 5 Bowie albums.

With the imminent release of The Next Day, this may change as I think The Next Day could better Heathen. It's too early to tell yet though.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His best since... well, ever., 30 July 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
It's odd; back in the early seventies, Bowie pretended to be an alien (all aliens wore make-up and balanced fat insects on their foreheads in the seventies) and made some great music. Later, he lost three quarters of his weight, took all the drugs, and made better music. Based on this evidence, Bowie would have to do something pretty extreme to create his masterpiece... instead it seems he just had to live an ordinairy (multi-millionaire) life with a wife, a daughter and all his own hair.
Heathen is - and it suprises me to say this - Bowie's best work. Not by much, admittedly, but his best. Like the greatest albums in his back catalogue (Diamond Dogs and Low to name two) it isn't exactly monkey-party style fun and laughs; in fact it's probably one of his darkest albums to date, as it's recurring themes appear to be loss and death. The atmosphere of the album, created with producer Tony Visconti, is both tangible and appropriate; it's like sitting in a dark, bare room at dawn, listening to an oncoming thunderstorm, surounded by old sepia photographs of grim looking ancestors. Or something.
The best songs here are the opening and closing tracks. Sunday and Heathen (The Rays) both recall some of Low's more ominous sounds. Sunday, based around what sounds like a choir of a hundred Bowies, is a rather unsettling opener, made all the more sinister by the lyrics 'predicting' of the September 11th attacks (which were still a few days away when the song was written). It's the semi-title track, though, which is the album's classic. Put bluntly, it's Bowie's realisation that he is going to die at some point, and he's a lot nearer to that than his birth. Of course, to look at the man, he's clearly got another seventy years left in him; but we haven't and the song, the lyrics and the music all drive this point inescapably home.
Even the initially cheery sounding 'Everyone Says Hi'is about the death of his father (and upon learning this, every line magically transforms from silly to touching).
Relief from all the gloom is present here too. Seemingly picked by a blindfolded Bowie throwing darts at other artists, there are three cover versions on 'Heathen'. Two are good (Neil Young and The Legendary Stardust Cowboy), one actually improves on the original: had Bowie picked any other Pixies song he might have ruined it, as it is he chose 'Cactus', plays everything on it and does a fine job of fleshing out the original.
Two last points: 'I Would Be Your Slave' is the most beautiful song Bowie has ever written and sung, and one other song ends with the line 'And Your Big Fat Dog'. Reason enough to own this, frankly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Scary Monsters, 19 July 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
Comparisons with Scary Monsters tend to distort one's expectations of Heathen. It has taken me a month to hear this album for what it is, and it is an exceptionally good collection of songs quite different to all other Bowie albums. No one else in popular music could write a song like "I Would Be Your Slave", which is as good a song as he has ever written. It works perfectly on absolutely every level. Indeed, Bowie could not have written this song at an earlier age. It is an authentic expression of yearning for the comfort of knowing there is something more to the world than what we can see. It is the purest example of the new, uniquely mature side of his output that has been evident to some extent in each album since Earthling. (By contrast, 1.Outside was an astonishingly puerile piece of work, whatever its musical merits, for a man of his age.) I know of no other figure in popular music dealing with these themes of genuine - as opposed to contrived - existential angst, and philosophical wonderment. Here, Bowie has shown how in the right hands rock music can be a potent medium long after one's youth has gone. He is as good now as he ever was.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets better with every listen, 14 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
Like so many of Bowie's albums, this one takes a few listens to grow to love it. The songs are complex and there are so many layers to the music that the first listen almost disappoints, but with the second listen it all begins to make sense and by the third spin, it will remain firmly rooted in your cd player.
My personal favourite track is the first, the awesome "Sunday" with the beautiful lyric "And nothing has changed...everything has changed". "Slip Away" "I would be your slave" and the title track "Heathen" also demand complete attention; listen with your eyes closed and let the music wash over you. The covers fit into the album perfectly and "I took a trip on a Gemini Spaceship" is an almost welcome respite from the darkness of the rest of the album.
At fifty-five, David Bowie is writing beautiful, haunting music, perfectly expressing the angst of the times we live in and his own acknowledgement of the briefness of life. His voice is as strong and moving as ever and he still has the ability to surprise. Give this album more than one chance and you will be amazed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most successful album since "Heroes", 15 Dec 2002
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
Bowie teams up with lifetime co-collaborator and producer Tony Visconti to produce an ethereal mix of beautiful melodies and arrangements. Bowie is lyrically available, showing he is capable of tapping into a wide range of emotions. Upon the initial listening, Bowie's voice comes off sounding a wee experimental, definitely presenting a new range of notes for those Bowie fans hungry for more than another persona or another live version of standard fare.
On Heathen, you can tell how Mr. Bowie's humble beginnings have sustained 30+ years. The songs are as hauntingly familiar as when you first heard him, and as fresh as the day you first heard "Scary Monsters," for instance. I find myself comparing the latest Heathen songs with Bowie's earlier work:
"Sunday" borrows from "Absolute Beginners."
"Slow Burn" sounds like "Teenage Wildlife" and "Up the Hill Backwards.
"I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship" reminds me of "Moonage Daydream."
If you haven't heard Bowie for a long time, this is the CD you were waiting for. Slow Burn presents Pete Townsend, and Bowie played it on David Bowie by Request on A&E. Not available in this edition, you may be able to find the Moby and Air remix bonus tracks on Amazon.com auctions, if you're lucky. Bowie hasn't lost his touch - perhaps inspired by his baby and beautiful wife Iman, Mr. Bowie is always one step ahead of us, throughout the phases of his life. The cool sophistication of this CD reminds us of how Bowie steps aside to present us with a different point of view. All those years back, you didn't think "Heroes" would ever become a classic, did you? Well, this is going to be one of those, too.
Whom do you think has my "Heathen" CD? My elderly mum! That's right: she insisted on taking it with her, riding in the car listening to it cranked up from San Diego, CA to her home in Las Vegas, NV. This CD really *does* appeal to people of all ages, all genres, and all generations (I'm GenX).
Love-on ya, amazon.UK! (as Bowie would say)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make this your first SACD purchase, 17 May 2006
By 
Martin A Hogan "Marty From SF" (San Francisco, CA. (Hercules)) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
"Heathen" was a hard listen for me, initially; with it's over-sampled guitar work. However, when I acquired a system that decodes SACD's, this album completely changed in sound and dynamics. With surround sound and the exquisite remastering, you can truly hear the layers of music that Bowie intended you to hear. "Sunday" and "5:15" are especially breathtaking on this disc and "Everyone Says Hi" turns from silly and simple to fun and phenomenal. Unfortunately, this SACD does not contain four more songs that are available on the USA and Germany issues. The Fall of 2006 should allow Sony to release inexpensive SACD Surround Sound systems and this SACD should be your first purchase. The experience is simply spine tingling and ethereal. Bowie always was ahead of the game in music and styles.
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Heathen by David Bowie (Audio CD - 2002)
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