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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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heaven - not Heathen, 18 Jun 2002
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
If this review section were limited to just three words about each item, I would use the following to describe this new Bowie effort: Just simply breathtaking.
I was hesitant. Like the other reviewers, the cliche of "the best thing since Scary Monsters" and a "real return to form" initially made me run for the hills screaming out for Bowie to become the cult hero that he was in the 90s, though the chart hits deserted him.
I honestly believed it would be something of a stylistic progression of 'hours...' and having heard the first single release, Slow Burn, I expected a wholly different listening experience. That track oozes remnants of Scary Monsters tracks Teenage Wildlife and Because You're Young, most notable with respect to the latter in Pete Townshend's guest appearance on guitar.
However, each and every track is, in itself, a masterpiece. Believe me, you may need to listen to it twice to appreciate it all, but Heathen really does deliver the best album since Scary Monsters. No, seriously!
Sunday, the first track, is a Bowie re-write of much of the style, content and vocal tones of his recent version of Nature Boy from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Yet, it's A Better Future, Everyone Says 'Hi' and all three cover versions that really engage.
As ever, the debut single from this album is the weaker track from it, but on repeated listening, it does grow on you, even if the first verse's lack of rhyming does affect its listenability.
The Ltd Ed Digipak with bonus Remix CD is only really worth it for the re-recording of Conversation Piece which is far superior to the original recording made back in 1970. The inclusion of the hard-to-find remake Panic In Detroit will enthuse those who missed out on the Rykodisc/EMI reissues of Scary Monsters in the early 90s which included this track. Is it me, or is there an even more palpable parallel between Heathen and THAT album of 1980? Hmmmm.
It's a shame it's taken Dame David so long to return to tuneful, sharp, simplistic, moving, witty and ultimately rewarding music. It was hard living down the shame of the 80s sell-out. It was tough seeing the genuine excellence of much of the tracks on Black Tie White Noise and 1.Outside go virtually unnoticed by the public. The sacrilege of record buyers missing out on The Buddha of Suburbia will eat my core til the day I die. Even Earthling and 'hours...' did little to restore faith, no matter how many 50th birthdays and comparisons to Hunky Dory they received. This album will be looked back on in a few years as THE definitive post-Let's Dance release.
Last week, Bowie revealed that he was happy with his musical direction and was startled at how good his writing is at the moment. This is the key. Bowie's found his way through the wilderness. I hope the enthusiasm and sheer brilliance of this album leads him on to do some of the greatest music he has yet to give.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars impressed, 29 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
As an avid Bowie fan since the seventies,I have heard many a song from this artist.I rate this album as good as that era (which I think was his best).My favourite tracks are track 3,`Slip Away`,which so reminds me of another of his tracks from past but can`t at this moment think which one and track 4, `Slow Burn`,but that is just my opinion.My wife likes track 11, `A Better Future` the best.There are some slow deep songs on here and also some upbeat catchy tunes.It is the type of album that you put on,sit back,and close your eyes to.It is well worth buying if you are a Bowie fan.I don`t know about the rest of the general public as it is more of a `Bowie fan` album than an album that you would expect to hear coming from some young kids bedroom.All the same,good to hear he still capable of making good music (not like his Tin Machine days)
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pray and the heathen lie will disappear, 1 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
"The Best Since Scary Monsters" has become a worn out cliché to describe the Dame's upcoming albums for the entire last decade. The havoc started with (in my humble opinion) highly underappreciated Black Tie White Noise in 1993, co-incidentally sinking its indie label Savage Records, through a magnificent (possibly Bowie's best ever) work but a commercial disaster The Buddha Of Suburbia later the same year, the controversial "young" sound of 1.Outside and Earthling (1995 and 1997 respectively), right to the boredom of hours... in 1999. All these albums had one common feature - they all were hailed as "return to the form" and "rediscovered vintage Bowie". The same, unsurprisingly, is said to Heathen, Bowie's newest offering. Is Heathen different?
Despite the scepticism of certain fans, and the reluctance of musical press to rate any new material from Bowie above average, I would say, yes, it is.
One obvious answer is Bowie's reunion with his long-time collaborator Tony Visconti, last seen on Scary Monsters, and, as die-hard fans will know, on the Placebo single Without You I'm Nothing and The Rustic Overtones' Viva Nueva. Visconti's string arrangements in Heathen are truly superb - ranging from the dark, intense and enigmatic I Would Be Your Slave to deceptively jolly Everyone Says 'Hi'. Yet, I believe, Mr. Visconti is not the only reason making Heathen exceptional.
Those who have followed Bowie's work during last three years will know that there was one more album between hours... and Heathen. The album was tentatively called Toy, and contained polished rerecordings of Bowie's early songs, an attempt, according to him, to finish what was started over thirty years ago. Then-Bowie's label Virgin, possibly scared by the imagery of Laughing Gnomes and Rubber Bands did not consider this idea that brilliant, and the album suddenly disappeared even before finalizing plans for the release. However, two tracks from Toy were reworked for Heathen. Afraid, a live favourite, is on par with such rockers as Suffragette City and Fame. Slip Away, Bowie's homage to the bizarre TV show, witnesses some of Bowie' best composing and some of his mot cryptic lyrics (even distorted further by the reviewers, thank you very much The Guardian). More tracks from Toy are being released as B-sides and other additional material, and should definitely be given due attention.
Next, come three covers that mostly provoke a love-or-hate relationship to the listener. In Cactus, a cover of The Pixies, David not only sounds naughtier than his multiple character in the Outside murder saga, but he also does almost all of the instruments on the track. I've Been Waiting For You, originally Neil Young's, is a look back to the Tin Machine era. The best of the three (or the worst, depending how you see it) is Legendary Stardust Cowboy's Gemini Spacecraft, a surreal cosmic love story, invoking the imagery of Bowie's alien personae without directly referencing to them. In addition, Bowie's vocals are so mellow and sexy, the track could easily be on Young Americans.
Heathen has everything a good album needs: an interesting, yet not intrusive or too in-your-face concept, very rich and deep melodic textures and wonderfully diverse vocals. Every new listen of Heathen brings a new discovery - whether it's a chord you did not hear before, subtle synthesizer effects or a pun in the lyrics. But in order to truly appreciate Heathen, one has to stop comparing it to Bowie's "classic" works. If you have Ziggy and Low engraved deep in your skin, Heathen will feel like a cup of two-day-old coffee.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sincere apology for "...hours" , a great CD, 25 Oct 2004
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
In 1999 David Bowie released "...hours" , which recieved polite reviews and sold moderately. The whole package was a bit run of the mill; the cover art was overworked and confused, as were the songs. The fact that these songs are re-worked creations originally in a Buddist inspired computer game (The Nomad Soul) adds to the rather embarrasing facts.
So what a delight, and genuine suprise that David's follow up, "Heathen", is a really great package. The songs, like the cover art, are simple, striking and bold.
Tony Visconti, in case you didn't know, co-produces here - adding enough to the mix wihout overseasoning. Highlights, of which there are many, inlcude the "heroes" styled "Slow Burn", "Everyone Says Hi", "Slip Away", "5:15 The Angels Have Gone" and "Gemini Spacecraft".
Three covers hint at slight dissapointment, but what covers they are - Cactus (Pixies), I've Been Waiting For You (Neil Young) and the aforementioned Gemini Space Craft (Legendary Stardust Cowboy). The latter being a suitable follow up to the sparkly Hallo Space Boy.
Visconti's production can, in places, be slightly cloying (the annoying harpsicord on A Better Future, a bit overdone on Slip Away)but on the whole he has done a good job.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Back, 27 Aug 2002
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This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
A definite return to form with his best album in 20 years. As someone who got into Bowie aged 11 in 1980 I bought backwards happily but was always embarrassed at anything he did after 1983 (other reviewers mention Tin Machine, but let's not forget the Glass Spider or Hello Spaceboy).
This is the stripped down album I'd always fancied forcing him (at gunpoint) to make. Less pretentious than before with better songwriting, and Bowie at last uses his 'individual' voice to great effect. Reminds me slightly of PJ Harvey's 'Songs from...' album: you can almost hear the tape hiss.
Slow burn is at last a commercial, confident single, and the song 'Everyone Says Hi' is unique: simple, cheesy and engagingly funny.
Only gripe is that there's still a little too much of the squiggly lead guitar work that blighted his later career.
And how many other 55 year olds are still cutting the mustard?
Welcome back.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Major Tom is back, 31 July 2002
By 
Mr John S Hutchinson (Cheltenham, gloucestershire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
Heathen is Bowie's best album since he launched Major Tom on planet earth. I'm an avid Leonard Cohen admirer. I'd also walk through fire and brimstone to get the latest Tom Waits and I grew up listening to the awesome Bob Dylon, but Heathen is something else, it has just blown me away. It's full of driving melodic anthem music that takes me back years and years yet is bang up to date!. If you like good music and lyrics buy it, it's awesome. Well done David - when's the next one coming?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once you have it, you never lose it, 13 Aug 2002
By 
Paul Hammond (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
There was only so long Bowie could go before returning to producing the goods, and he does it with this album for sure. It's not a classic all the way through like Hunky Dory which stops it getting 5 stars from me, but it's a damn good album and he shows he's still got it 30 years later at age 52 with flashes of brilliance.
Collaborating once again with Tony Visconti was a smart move and it has paid dividends. You get that lovely fragile nasally vocal like you had on some of the Diamond Dogs album and Hunky Dory, and it sounds like classic Bowie that's 20 years old.
'Slip away' is just great, really powerful emotional chorus, lovely melancholy chords and vocal in the verse.
Sunday is also of high quality, moody, atmospheric, with Jean Michel Jarre like choir chords in the background overlaid with a deep drawn out onimous vocal from Bowie. The high-hat work that comes in later is particularly effective.
'Everyone says Hi' is just a great breath of fresh air, he doesn't have to be doom and gloom always, this is a sort of 'Kooks' for the year 2002. The way he sings it and nails every phrase reminds me why he's such a great vocalist. The production is also spot on.
'Better Future' is kind of a bit of a musical joke in a way, a little ditty, but it's so bobby and catchy you forgive it. Women tend to like the lyrics, 'I deserve a better future, or I just might stop loving you, loving you, give my children sunny smiles'.
Great cover of the Pixies 'Cactus Tree'.
'Afraid' is also a very catchy tune.
They are the highlights from me. Go buy it, it's certainly his best work for the last 20 years.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Man!, 22 Nov 2011
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
Yes, if the only good song were 'Sunday' - which is just brilliant (great guitarloopings, congratulations man and that voice!!!!!) - it was already worth the money. But the album is really really good,lots of variation, great soundscaping, fantastic vocals, cool guitarstuff. Gotta see Sunday live on you tube, awesome! any-wow, great stuff, so just buy and enjoy. b well, h
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bowie's best, 3 Dec 2002
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
This is a great album. It doesn’t matter what caused this to happen – Tony Visconti back twiddling the knobs, Bowie being a dad again or world events – this is as good an album as any Bowie has ever made.
The CD is book-ended by Sunday and Heathen. These two tracks are Bowie at his apocalyptic and ominous best. Presumably they are a reaction to September 11th 2001, although if they were written before then they’re frighteningly prescient “Steel on the skyline, sky made of glass”, “Nothing has changed and everything has changed”.
My favourite song is Everyone Says Hi. At first listening it’s a sing-a-long, hunky dory, feel good song but on closer listening its lyrics are anything but. It’ll take a better Bowie deconstructionist than me to work out exactly what he’s on about but it’s either your kids leaving home or the death of a one-time friend. Probably both, and more.
Slip Away sounds like a lost track from Diamond Dogs; the song that could have made that a great album. A soaring, epic ballad about the characters from an American kids show from the 1970s (I think).
Every Bowie album has a cover song or two and they’re usually embarrassing but this time we’re spared anything by Morrissey or the Beach Boys and get The Pixies and Neil Young. Cactus and I’ve Been Waiting For You are Bowie rocking and yearning like he hasn’t on record since 1978. The obligatory space reference comes on Gemini Spacecraft which is apparently a cover of a song by the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. We’ll have to take Bowie’s word for that but he does things with his voice on this song that he hasn’t done since the Young Americans album. Fantastic.
Slow Burn wants to be a new “Heroes” but ends up being a new Absolute Beginners with the sexiest horns/sax (?) since 1986. I’ll settle for that.
Afraid sounds like what we used to call New Wave. I’d love to hear Blondie do this but Bowie’s version makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as it is.
Another album is going around professing to be the Best of Bowie, but don’t be fooled, it doesn’t get any better than this. Ten stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to basics, 11 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Heathen (Audio CD)
With Heathen David Bowie returns to what he does best, writing and performing great songs. For the people more used to the mediocre albums of the 90's such as Outside this album is an eye opener which will hopefully act as an catalyst for them to go and explore Bowie's great back catalogue of records from the 70's from Hunky Dory through to Lodger. For the faithful Bowie fans this album should restore their faith in Bowie and renew their desire to re-acquaint themselves with some long forgotten tunes. From the hymn-like opening of Sunday Bowie sets the tone for the rest of the album which is essentially a back to basics. The beautiful Slip Away and the catchy Everyone Says 'Hi' are wonderful songs which puts you in mind of great songs from Bowie's past. And in this lies the album's slight downfall. Bowie has to a certain extent played it safe and appears to give people what they prefer at the cost of re-inventing himself the way his many fans have come to expect of him. That said there is nothing wrong with playing it safe every now and again and Bowie certainly does not make a habit of it. On Cactus and I Have Been Expecting You Bowie re-affirms his well-known ability from Pin-Ups for doing great covers that adds something unique to other people songs. Overall this is a great album which is likely to appeal to hardened Bowie fans as well as newcomers.
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Heathen by David Bowie (Audio CD - 2002)
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