Yep, three perfect scores in a row. What can I say? This entire late '70s period was Bowie at his most flawless, with the Berlin trilogy in particular not having a single dud track let alone album, and releasing five outstanding albums in a row which all stand out as top ten albums of his as well as some of the greatest albums of all time in their own right, plus an amazing live album to top everything off. With that said, this period from 1976-80 is my favourite run in his entire discography, and it's not hard to understand why. I will say that this is likely going to be my last 100 given to Bowie just because these past three albums in particular stand out to me as some of the most impactful work he ever did and always intrigue me much more than most other albums from any artist and genre ever have. "Heroes" in particular, I feel, perfects everything he had already been doing successfully since the start of the '70s, with some excellent experimental art rock and some brilliant ambient works to go along with it.
Yeah, although I said that Low was my second-favourite Bowie album, it honestly always flip-flops between that and "Heroes", and right now I'm leaning more towards the latter. The thing is, as amazing as both albums are, both of them being pretty much flawless and them being some of the most important albums ever recorded, as well as them both being pretty fucking inseparable from each other as they are so similar in their aesthetic, I do think "Heroes" is the one I come back to more. Obviously both of them are on pretty fucking equal level if I always struggle between the two, and it gets even trickier when I take Station To Station into account, but right now I'll just say that this is my second-favourite Bowie record. And who could possibly argue with me? While there are a dozen records in Bowie's lengthy discography that you could make a case as being top three worthy, "Heroes" has always been one of the popular picks. Maybe not as popular as, say, Ziggy Stardust or Low, but still very commonly placed up there alongside those two.
From a songwriting standpoint, this is definitely one of Bowie's finest moments, and that's saying something. It should go without saying that Bowie is one of the best songwriters to ever exist, and "Heroes" is a prime example of this, with every song that has lyrics being standouts in their own right. Take the title track for example, a song that has become one of his most famous tracks ever. While there are plenty of songs on here that I could pick as an example and actually bring more (much needed) attention to them, I still feel like the title track is the best example of Bowie's lyrical prowess in his entire discography. Sure, it may not be as flooring as Life On Mars' lyrics, and some may even argue Ashes To Ashes also has stronger lyrics, but goddamn is the lyrics in this song just so far ahead of literally any other song I can think of. It's simply beautiful. It's magical. The lyrics alone would make this a top-tier Bowie song, which is saying something, so then just imagine him going all-out with the phenomenal instrumentation and giving a very emotional performance in the latter part of the track, and you have an instant hit. It's definitely one song that I'm certain everyone can agree is amazing beginning-to-end.
And that is just one of the tracks. Sure, it's the most famous song on the album, but it's still one track. Now imagine nine more songs of that quality. What you get is a fucking phenomenal listening experience. "Heroes" instantly sets itself apart from every other album in his discography by opening up with the highly experimental Beauty And The Beast. This is another song that I feel sits very high up there as one of Bowie's strongest lyrically, but its uncanny sound is what always grabs my attention. It's one of the most unique-sounding songs in Bowie's entire discography, making it one of the most attention-grabbing. And with the entire first side of the album keeping up the same momentum and quality in its experimentation and just being so excitement-inducing all throughout, you just get hit after hit. The fact that Joe The Lion of all songs is the one that leaves the least impact to me tells you all you need to know. I mean, how can a rocker with some stand-out guitar work from the one and only Robert Fripp possibly be considered weaker than anything else here? Well, just leave it to Bowie to write multiple other songs that stick out even more.
The second disc is where things get even more interesting, though, as, just like with Low, it starts to focus heavily on instrumental tracks. It starts off with another experimental art rock song in V-2 Schneider, which is definitely great though admittedly one of the least noteworthy moments on the album. We then get three purely ambient songs that lead into each other perfectly. While I do think that Low pulled-off the ambient stuff in a more intriguing way, it's still undeniable that this short part in "Heroes" is just as good. And to close off the whole thing, we get The Secret Life Of Arabia, another lyrical masterpiece as well as another very unique cut off this album. Honestly out of all the albums in Bowie's excellent run from 1970-80, this album may just be the most experimental.
All in all, "Heroes" is yet another phenomenal and near-flawless work from this amazing artist. There's a reason why this album has always stood out as one of his most famous works. Bowie went all-out with the ideas he started with Low, and added so much more creativity to it that it makes it stand out so much more than most anything he had ever released up to this point and would ever release in the rest of his career. This is definitely one of my all-time favourite Bowie records, and right now I can confidently call it my personal second-favourite record of his.
Favourite Tracks: "Heroes"; Beauty And The Beast; The Secret Life Of Arabia; Blackout; Sons Of The Silent Age; Neuköln
Least Favourite Track: N/A
May 31, 2019
Releasing two albums in the same year is no small feat. Hell, I'm usually of the mindset that artists shouldn't release albums less than two years apart, let alone ten months. But with David Bowie, that's different. Throughout most of the 1970s he released most of his projects only a single year apart, and this and Low he released in the same year. With how much Bowie has impressed me, it came as no surprise when I ended up loving this album.
Despite them being released in the same year, this feels nothing like Low to me. Sure, both are extremely experimentative, but this gave off a completely different vibe to me than Low did. And personally, I feel like the vibe that Low gave me ended up making me enjoy that album more than this one, but I still loved this record.
To be honest, this album feels like an unfocused mess. The first half is completely different from the second, and the change was so jarring that I actually needed a break just to get myself into a different mindset. The first half was going for a pop-rock or glam-rock sound which is completely welcome since I've loved basically all of Bowie's rock stuff so far. Yet around track 6 or 7 it completely changes to an ambient sound, completely changing the tone and making it feel as if it's a completely different album. It was so goddamn jarring that at first I hated it. After I took a short break, though, I came to appreciate it. I think that both halves of this album are great in different ways. Still, that sudden juxtaposition of sound caught me completely off-guard and ended any chance of this being a 9 for me.
Favourite Tracks: "Heroes"; The Secret Life Of Arabia; Beauty And The Beast; Sons Of The Silent Age; Neuköln
Least Favourite Track: Blackout
|1||Beauty and the Beast / 100|
|2||Joe the Lion / 100|
|3||"Heroes" / 100|
|4||Sons of the Silent Age / 100|
|5||Blackout / 100|
|6||V-2 Schneider / 100|
|7||Sense of Doubt / 95|
|8||Moss Garden / 100|
|9||Neuköln / 100|
|10||The Secret Life of Arabia / 100|