Heathen (album)

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Heathen
Studio album by David Bowie
Released 11 June 2002[1]
Recorded Allaire Studios, Shokan, New York
The Looking Glass Studios, New York City
Length 52:08
Label Iso Records, Columbia
Producer David Bowie, Tony Visconti
David Bowie chronology
'Hours...'
(1999)
Heathen
(2002)
Reality
(2003)
Singles from Heathen
  1. "Slow Burn"
    Released: 3 June 2002
  2. "Everyone Says 'Hi'"
    Released: 16 September 2002
  3. "I've Been Waiting for You"
    Released: October 2002
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 68/100[2]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau C+[4]
Entertainment Weekly B+[5]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[6]
Mojo 4/5 stars[7]
The Music Box 4/5 stars[8]
NME 8/10[9]
Pitchfork 7.8/10[10]
Q 4/5 stars[11]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[12]

Heathen is the 22nd studio album by English rock musician David Bowie, released in 2002. It was considered a comeback for him in the US market; it was his highest charting album (#14) since Tonight (1984), and earned some of his strongest reviews since Let's Dance (1983). Worldwide, it sold over two million copies and experienced a four-month run on the UK charts. Although its production had started before September 11 attacks in 2001, the album was finished after that date, which resulted in the influencing of its concept.[1][13][14]

Recording and production[edit]

Heathen marked the return of record producer Tony Visconti,[1] who co-produced (with David Bowie himself) several of Bowie's classic albums. The last album Visconti had co-produced was Scary Monsters in 1980.

Originally, Bowie had recorded the album Toy for release in 2000 or '01. This album was meant to feature some new songs and remakes of some his lesser-known songs from the 1960s. Although Toy remains officially unreleased, a few of its tracks—including "Afraid" and "Slip Away" (then titled "Uncle Floyd")—appear on Heathen. Some other re-recorded songs were included as B-sides to the singles from Heathen.

The album features guest appearances from The Who guitarist Pete Townshend (who had played guitar on an earlier Bowie track, "Because You're Young" from Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)), Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess, pianist Kristeen Young, and prolific bassist Tony Levin of King Crimson.[15] The song "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spacecraft" contains the lowest note Bowie has ever sung on an album (G1).[16]

Style and themes[edit]

Although many of its songs were written for Toy, and some are cover versions, biographers, and critics of the time claimed that Heathen deals with Bowie's impressions of the 11 September attacks.[13][14] The lyrics of songs such as "Slow Burn", "Afraid", "A Better Future", and "Heathen (The Rays)" focus on the degradation of mankind and the world in general, recalling his earlier album Diamond Dogs and the song "Five Years".

Writing about the connection between the album and 9/11, Dave Thompson says:

Although we can probably credit nothing more spiritual than saturation-level television coverage for its visceral impact, 9/11 remains the single most resonant event in recent world history for many people, igniting so many thoughts, fears and conflicts within the minds of those who witnessed it that, even today, people who have never been to America, can still bond over those 102 terrifying minutes. At the time, and through the months of uncertainty that followed, the need for that bonding was even more pronounced. Heathen sounded like it understood how people felt. People automatically felt the need, then, to understand Heathen and, of all Bowie's albums of the nineties and beyond, it remains the one that is most frequently singled out as his best, because it is certainly his most direct. Even Tony Visconti referred to it as his magnum opus: "I told him, 'That was more like a symphony.'"[17]

Bowie denied that any of the album's songs were written after September 2001, though he admits that the songs deal with the general feeling of anxiety that he's had in America for a number of years, adding "it's not unlikely that you're going to have a sense of angst in anything that's recorded in New York or by New Yorkers."[1] He also have said in a 2003 interview: "It was written as a deeply questioning album. Of course, it had one foot astride that awful event in September. So that was quite a traumatic album to finish. This one hints at that, but it's not really trying to resolve any trauma. [September 11] did affect me and my family very much. We live down here."[18]

The album contains cover versions of three songs: "Cactus" by Pixies, "I've Been Waiting for You" by Neil Young (which had also been recorded by Pixies as a B-side for 1990's "Velouria" single), and "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship" by Norman Odam, aka the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, from whom Bowie lifted his "Ziggy Stardust" moniker in 1972. The latter two songs were taken from a list of songs that Bowie compiled in the 1970s for his never-recorded Pin Ups 2 album.[19]

Music videos[edit]

Bowie, who was 55 at the time of the record's release, said, "I'm pretty much a realist. There's a certain age you get to when you're not really going to be shown [on TV] anymore. The young have to kill the old. ... That's how life works. ... It's how culture works."[1] For this reason there are no music videos for any of the songs from this album.[1]

Live performances[edit]

Bowie took his album on the road for his Heathen Tour in the latter half of 2002.

Alternative versions[edit]

A remix of the song "Everyone Says 'Hi'" is featured in the PlayStation 2 rhythm game Amplitude.

In 2011, UK band Films of Colour released a cover of "Slow Burn"[20]

The song "Sunday" was played live at the Heathen Tour and A Reality Tour concerts. A live version recorded at The Point, Dublin in November 2003 was included on the A Reality Tour DVD. A Moby remix is available on the bonus disc of the 2-CD version of Heathen, and a Tony Visconti remix was released on the European version of the single "Everyone Says 'Hi'" and the single "I've Been Waiting for You".

Heathen has also been released in SACD format in a limited number of copies with slightly longer versions of five of the songs.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by David Bowie, except where noted[21]

No. Title Length
1. "Sunday"   4:45
2. "Cactus" (Black Francis) 2:54
3. "Slip Away"   6:05
4. "Slow Burn"   4:41
5. "Afraid"   3:28
6. "I've Been Waiting for You" (Neil Young) 3:00
7. "I Would Be Your Slave"   5:14
8. "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship" (Norman Carl Odam) 4:04
9. "5:15 The Angels Have Gone"   5:00
10. "Everyone Says 'Hi'"   3:59
11. "A Better Future"   4:11
12. "Heathen (The Rays)"   4:16

Limited edition bonus disc[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Sunday (Moby Remix)"   5:09
2. "A Better Future (Remix by Air)"   4:56
3. "Conversation Piece" (written 1969, recorded 1970, 2001 re-recording) 3:51
4. "Panic in Detroit" (outtake from a 1979 recording) 2:57

Japanese 2007 re-issue[edit]

as above plus:

No. Title Length
5. "Wood Jackson"   4:48
6. "When the Boys Come Marching Home"   4:46
7. "Baby Loves That Way"   4:46
8. "You've Got a Habit of Leaving"   4:53
9. "Safe"   4:44
10. "Shadow Man"   4:46

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel
Design credits

Charts[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Gordinier, Jeff (31 May 2002). "Loving the Aliens". Entertainment Weekly (656). pp. 26–34 
  2. ^ Heathen (Review), metacritic, retrieved 2 March 2013 
  3. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Heathen - David Bowie". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Robert Christgau. "David Bowie". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Entertainment Weekly review
  6. ^ Alexis Petridis (31 May 2002). "CD of the week: David Bowie, Heathen". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Mojo, p.110, July 2002
  8. ^ John Metzger. "David Bowie - Heathen (Album Review)". The Music Box (February 2003). Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  9. ^ Sarah Dempster. "Bowie, David : Heathen". NME (11 June 2002). Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  10. ^ Eric Carr (16 June 2002). "David Bowie: Heathen". Pitchfork. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Q, p.108, June 2002
  12. ^ Rolling Stone review
  13. ^ a b Simon Groth (2010). Off the Record: 25 Years of Music Street Press. Univ. of Queensland Press. p. 310. ISBN 0-7022-3863-5. 
  14. ^ a b James E. Perone (2007). The Words and Music of David Bowie. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 137. ISBN 0-275-99245-4. 
  15. ^ a b Jones, Chris. "David Bowie Heathen Review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  16. ^ Kristobak, Ryan (20 May 2014). "Comparing The Top Artists, Past And Present, By Vocal Range". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  17. ^ Dave Thompson (2006). Hallo Spaceboy: The Rebirth of David Bowie. ECW Press. p. 257. ISBN 1-55022-733-5. 
  18. ^ Anthony DeCurtis (5 May 2005). In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life And Work. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 262–263. ISBN 978-0-634-06655-9. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  19. ^ Buskin, Richard (October 2003), "David Bowie & Tony Visconti Recording Reality", Sound on Sound, retrieved 30 July 2013 
  20. ^ "TV to produce FOC plus free Slow Burn download". davidbowie.com. 30 October 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  21. ^ Heathen album liner notes.
  22. ^ "David Bowie – Heathen". Australiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  23. ^ "David Bowie – Heathen" (in German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
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  25. ^ "David Bowie – Heathen" (in French). Ultratop.be. Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
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  27. ^ "Top 40 Albums - 25 / 2002 - Hitlisten". Hitlisten.nu. Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
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  29. ^ "David Bowie: Heathen" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
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  32. ^ "GFK Chart-Track Albums: Week 24, 2002". Chart-Track.co.uk. IRMA. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  33. ^ "David Bowie – Heathen". Italiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  34. ^ "Highest position and charting weeks of Heathen by David Bowie". oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
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  39. ^ "2002-06-22 Top 40 UK Albums Archive". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  40. ^ "David Bowie Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for David Bowie. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  41. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 2002". Ultratop (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  42. ^ "Rapports annuels 2002". Ultratop (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  43. ^ "Classement Albums - année 2002". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (in French). Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  44. ^ "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 2002" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  45. ^ "Hitparade.ch - Schweizer Jahreshitparade 2002" (ASP). Swiss Music Charts (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
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  47. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  48. ^ "British album certifications – David Bowie – Heathen". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 10 October 2012.  Enter Heathen in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go