CD Review of Heathen by David Bowie

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Released: 2002
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David Bowie and Neil Young are geniuses who take chances, listen to their muses and have more musical skins than shedding chameleon. They march to the beats of their own drummers and produce records that they want to produce, regardless of what is trendy, cool or what their audiences may crave (at the moment). One could argue that the Thin White Duke did get seduced by the industrial movement in producing records like 1995's dark concept album (a reunion with producer Brian Eno) 1. Outside and 1997's Earthling, but that was Bowie trying on another suit, wearing it and discarding it before his next incarnation.

The sticker adhered to the disc I bought read "Classic David Bowie Circa 2002." I think this was a marketing ploy to say, Hey, David is out of the industrial phase and into a new one. Anyone who bought 1999's Hours... knew that though. I think it was also a cry to state that he is back making classic rock. I don't know if that is necessarily true, even though the record is elegantly produced by Tony Visconti, the producer who worked with Bowie from 1974's Diamond Dogs to 1980's Scary Monsters...And Super Creeps. That body of work included 1975's Young Americans and 1977's Heroes. Heathen is an album of interesting textures where a riff of percussion or an odd keyboard sound forms the backbone of the song ("Sunday" or "I Would Be Your Slave"). That style is contrasted to songs like the Neil Young Penned "I've Been Waiting For You," which is a flat out vamp for the former Ziggy Stardust.

Although I applaud his creative explorations, they don't always create his best work. Heathen is a bit inconsistent, but does have its moments. This is an okay, but one I want to listen to later (like in six months) to see if I missed something. I (like always) will buy the next Bowie record because I love to see what musical skin he is wearing, but this one is for fans only in that it doesn't really do anything magical.

~R. David Smola