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Old 11-26-2009, 04:37 PM   #29 (permalink)
why bother?
Bulldog's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 4,826

Oh, and just so you know, these aren't in any order...

Albums That Defined My Decade
#1: David Bowie - Heathen (2002)

genre: rock
1. Sunday
2. Cactus
3. Slip Away
4. Slow Burn
5. Afraid
6. I've Been Waiting For You
7. I Would Be Your Slave
8. I Took a Trip On a Gemini Spaceship
9. 5:15 The Angels Have Gone
10. Everyone Says "Hi"
11. A Better Future
12. Heathen (the Rays)

And here it is; definitive album of my decade of music. David Bowie's 2002 effort, and penultimate album before his hiatus/retirement/whatever it is, is easily among the most influential musical products of the 00s on my good self primarily because, as I'm sure I mentioned before, I've been a ranting David Bowie fanboy for quite a number of years now. Although I wouldn't say I'm anywhere near as blindly obsessive about the guy's music as I once was, the largest volume of CDs in my hard-copy music collection consists of Bowie's official albums, bootlegs, compilations and so on. Plus, if truth be told, I do still listen to an awful of his stuff these days, so I guess it's right that he gets a mention here. I'll get further into exactly how Heathen defines my musical decade a bit later after the old song-by-song bit, as this also gives me the opportunity to review one of my very favourite albums of the decade.

As you may or may not be able to tell from the album's title, the main theme running through this album stylistically is a very wintry, bleak and cold one, as the slowly-building, synth-led and powerful opener Sunday will testify. While this album is a bit heavy on the cover material to be seen (there's a total of three on this album), each of them, starting with an efficient, chilly rendition of the Pixies' Cactus, are all well fitted into Heathen's stylistic theme through some great performances like this one.

A good enough album so far, but nothing truly extraordinary, at least not until Slip Away comes around. It's a totally stunning, soaring ballad led by a sparse use of piano and a pounding, repetitive drumbeat, with the marvellous vocal performance from Bowie really taking this one up a few notches. The following Slow Burn, though much more up-tempo (featuring a few Pete Townshend solos underpinning the whole thing as it does), boasts the same kind of ambitious vocal performance and makes for another highlight, as the frenetic, string-laden and riff-led Afraid.

A little stretch of brilliance on the album is ended by a not-so-interesting, hard-rocking cover of Neil Young's I've Been Waiting For You, another one to feature a guest musician, this one being Dave Grohl on guitar. It's all more than made up by the fact that it's followed up by I Would Be Your Slave - quite possibly my favourite David Bowie song ever ever ever. Have a go with the video below, listen to that beautiful little bassline and see for yourself I guess. It's probably my personal favourite point on the album and is bookended by covers, the other being the ok-ish synth and drum machine-led rendition of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy's I Took a Trip On a Gemini Spaceship, which itself is bookended by slow-burning, emotional ballads, the one to follow it being the gorgeous 5:15 The Angels Have Gone - another cold, wintry number to feature a truly sublime vocal performance from Bowie.

The closing trio of songs are definitely among Bowie's very finest, the first of these being the sole single release, Everyone Says "Hi" - a masterclass of composition and performance, and a deceptively chirpy and upbeat little number given the grim and sorrowful lyric it supports. A Better Future is another tune which doesn't sound a whole lot unlike a song you'd find on Low, being a maze of heavily-treated guitars, synths and robotic rhythms over an infectious melody as it is. Pretty sure it was the one of, if not the first Bowie tune I ever heard as well (it was on some compilation CD that came free with a magazine - I think it was Q). The title track, Heathen (the Rays) serves as the fittingly haunting, synth and effect-laden album closer, encapsulating the overall mood of the album perfectly.

All in all then it's a complex, chilly, brooding and moody work of music which, for all the weird little synth effects and overdubs there are to be heard, all held together nicely by some typically Bowie-esque catchy hooks, melodies and memorable choruses. As I say, it's a massively influential album on my good self too when, while it wasn't quite the first Bowie album I ever bought, and getting it didn't exactly introduce me to a world of music I knew little to nothing of at the time, it did help to get me started on one of the more exhaustive musical ventures I'd ever take on. Also, looking back at the time I got it myself (around the time of release), it was also quite possibly the first 21st century album I ever got and truly loved. Generally speaking, this one's definitely up there with the best of the decade too, personal influences aside and that.

So then, this album...

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