The 2nd entry of the critically acclaimed Berlin Trilogy, “Heroes” is another excellent album from Bowie. It’s amazing how consistently he released albums in the 70s (I think he did 11 albums in 10 years?!?) and most of them are some of the greatest of all time. How would I rank they songs on this fine record?
You can check out some of my other Bowie posts below:
10 – Neukoln
I really like a lot of the instrumental tracks on “Low”, but I can’t say the same for this album. This is just bizarre, from the initial idea to the execution. At least it gives “Heroes” it’s own uniqueness – Bowie recorded this album near the Berlin Wall, so I’m sure that influenced his songwriting.
9 – Moss Garden
Same as before, except this time bizarre is substituted for boring and bland instead.
8 – Sense of Doubt
Similar instrumental shenanigans, except I find the descending, low piano motif to be quite foreboding and unique.
7 – Blackout
If you ignore the underwhelming instrumental tracks near the end, I actually consider the majority of the tracks on this album to be pretty great.
I think “Blackout” is my least favourite of the regular tracks, but even then it barely missed out on making it into the “Great” tier. The violent synth sounds make this track a unique experience, but I feel they went overboard a little bit with the production (there was a Sound War in the late 70s where producers tried making louder and louder albums, and some tracks like this feel the negative repercussions of this trend).
6 – Sons of the Silent Age
A slow one compared to others on “Heroes”, but I like how the song and the storytelling takes their time. I love me some layered vocals, and this track has it in spades.
5 – V-2 Schneider
I guess other than the “V-2 … Scheiiiiider …” refrain, this is another instrumental track – except this one is more akin to the musical highs of “Low”. The woodwind interjections are marvellous, and the aforementioned repeated vocal part gives the track its charm.
4 – Joe the Lion
An underrated, personal favourite of mine that I think Bowie fans are too quick to write off. There aren’t many storytelling tracks on this album, so when “Joe the Lion” comes along it sounds like a breath of fresh air. I suppose it’s a bit underwhelming as one of the first tracks on the album, but I love it just the same.
3 – Beauty and the Beast
This first track on “Heroes” is very different to anything people had heard before on a Bowie album, and the outrageous production and instrumentation lets you know you’re in for one hell of a ride.
2 – The Secret Life of Arabia
The saving grace of this album; after the slog that was the instrumental tracks, I had just about had it with “Heroes”.
Along comes “The Secret Life of Arabia”, one of Bowie’s best ever album closers. It has some of the storytelling lyrics that I love in his songs, and the bassline is unbelievably funky. This is a track that elevates the album from good to great.
1 – Heroes
Here it is, the single greatest song Bowie has ever made – and easily one of the greatest of all time.
I would probably put this as a top 3 song ever, that’s how highly I think of this masterpiece. Everything about this is perfect, from Bowie’s greatest ever vocal performance (with some clever production techniques from Tony Visconti) to the masterful layering of instrumentation.
It was later revealed that Bowie based his story – two lovers beneath the Berlin Wall – on an affair that Visconti was having while recording this album. The imagery of the guns blasting above the wall is intensely memorable, and “Heroes” will be one of my favourite songs up until the day I die.
Aaaand that’s my list. There’s one more album in the Berlin Trilogy, but until then you can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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