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Reviews: David Bowie: Heathen

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Reviews: 7

Review by emilsjr February 26, 2003 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is a stunning example of how multi-channel mixes can be done correct. In the pop area, only Beck's Sea Change challenges this one. This disc takes you into a world that only David Bowie can create. His strongest work since the late 70's and an amazing debut with Sony. If you gave up on Bowie in the 90's (think Tin Machine), give this a try. You will be impressed.

Also, kudos to Sony for adding the bonus tracks from the special edition Redbook release.

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Review by JW May 2, 2003 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
"Everything has changed" and "Nothing has changed". Words that appear on the booklet and in the first song on this Bowie album, the first on his new label ISO. Heathen has has a full, symphonic sound that is classical Bowie. So, nothing has changed really. Like the contemporary efforts by the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, nothing innovative has been produced here. But unlike the Stones and Clapton, Bowie's outing sounds very modern. That's probably because Bowie has always been ahead of his time anyway and even though time has caught up with him he is still able to surf the waves of time rather than be swept away by it.

This is a fantastic album folks! It contains a little of everything Bowie has done in his career, from the acoustic sounds on Hunky Dory to the more electronic soundscapes of Ziggy Stardust. Three of the songs are covers: "I've Been Waiting For You" from Neil Young, "Cactus" from the Pixies and "I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship" from The Legendary Stardust Cowboy. The weakest song in my view is 'A Better Future'. The chorus is weak and does not work with the quitar synth that is painting the background. There is no arguing about taste, so you just have to listen for yourself to see if you agree with me on this one. The strings on this album are gorgeous so look out for those when you listen to it. The SACD has four bonus tracks not mentioned on the booklet: 'When The Boys Come Marching Home', 'Wood Jackson', 'Conversation Piece' and 'Safe'.

The booklet contains pictures that seem to be taken from religious art, contrasting interestingly with the title of the album. Or perhaps not? The first song is called 'Sunday'. It has a distinctly mysterious sound and a soundscape with the expansiveness of a cathedral. I was wondering what Bowie intended so I took a look at an interview with him. This is what he says about the album: "Heathenism is a state of mind. You can take it that I'm referring to one who does not see his world. He has no mental light. He destroys almost unwittingly. He cannot feel any Gods presence in his life. He is the 21st century man. However, there's no theme or concept behind Heathen, just a number of songs but somehow there is a thread that runs through it that is quite as strong as any of my thematic type albums."


The sound of this SACD is very good - so 4 stars for that. The recording level was set high so it plays louder at the same volume setting than some of my other discs.

Jw

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Review by Rinkrat May 18, 2003 (1 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I picked this up based upon these glaring reviews and I've got to tell you I wasted my money. Sure the sound is great but Mr. Bowie is over the hill and is just going through the motions. Oh well, at least I can put it on Ebay and recoup a part of the money. I'll be happy when "Hunky Dory" and "Ziggy Stardust" see the light of day. Till then I'll stick with Beck instead of this washed up wannabee.

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Review by vonwegen September 11, 2003 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I have to disagree with rinkrat on this one: it takes a few listens for the songs to hook you. The surround mix is fantastic, it just sweeps you away, especially on "Slow Burn", "I Would Be Your Slave" and the title track. There are a lot of jazzy interludes in songs like "Sunday", "5:15" and especially "I Would Be Your Slave" (now my favorite song of the set) that take a while for you to like them. But in the end I do like these songs as well--and the surround mix makes it much easier. Ditto for the bonus tracks: they do grow on you after repeated listens, but it helps to be a jazz fan with those trax.

Really, this is the proper way to hear Heathen--there is simply too much sonic detail in the 5.1 mix that the CD version doesn't begin to give.

All right, it's not Bowie's best--but it certainly _is_ good and does hold up well to repeated listenings. I give it 4 stars for performance, 5 for the superb Tony Visconti surround re-mix.

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Review by peteyspambucket September 11, 2003 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I agree with vonwegen regarding the detail on this SACD overshadowing the CD release. When I first heard the CD, I didn't really like the album except for a couple of songs. Then I got the SACD for the hell of it, and boy what a difference. From the first 5 seconds of the first track, I could tell the SACD has space around all the instruments and synthesized effects, and this clarity is consistent with the rest of the album. It was quite revelatory. I think this is quite an enjoyable album, and the songs, like most of Bowie's songs, evoke a mood or atmosphere. If you like Bowie at all, avoid the CD and go straight to the SACD.

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Review by DrOctodivx November 1, 2004 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The first listening to this album did not impress me too much, but upon repeated listenings I began appreciating the subtlety and detail of the music. Plus the feelings conveyed by his singing are really quite powerful even though too subtle to detect upon my first listening. The instrumental localization was not as precise as I have heard on some of my top pop (and other) albums, however tbere is very lush and alive feel to the instrumentation, not to mention natural sounding, that I found very seductive.
This is not an album that I would recommend to everyone, however for those with a love of more subtle pop music, not to mention the equipment to capture that subtlety, and the patience to get to know a musical work better, then by all means buy this album.

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Review by John January 6, 2011 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
The best Bowie SACD, and a disc to demo SACD to my friends. Great material, some songs have considerable power but take several listenings to get to know. There is a wide variety of songs on this album, wider than on any of his others.

The acoustics are excellent, both clear and subtle.

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