Hours wasn’t a good album, but its follow up, Heathen (which is a really good album), has a very experience backstory. Originally, Bowie was going to release an album called Toy, which would have been an album of re-recordings of Bowie’s 1967 recordings, and stuff even earlier than that. This didn’t happen, but some songs were re-recorded for Heathen.
SLOW BURN: HEATHEN (2002)
Heathen, in many ways, is a lot like Hours. Compared to some of Bowie’s mid 90’s output, it is noticeably mellower but less so than Hours. There are more than a few memorable songs on this album, and with a modern sound, influenced by initial post 9/11 panic and confusion, it makes this album one which you will really find yourself enjoying more and more when you listen to it. Fully Produced by Tony Visconti, the music and production really complement each other very well, as the two men have extraordinary chemistry when in a studio together, and it is excellent.
Slow Burn is one of those songs that has transcended the period in which it had been made, in the aftermath of 9/11. I feel like it really captures the mood of post 9/11 earth, and it is a real shame that the song was not released as a single in the UK, nor did it do very well in the charts. In doing research for this song; using Bowiesongs again, lyrically, there are a lot of subtle references. Namely, biblical ones. ”There’s fear on the ground.” “The walls shall have eyes and the doors shall have ears,” reference Luke 12:3: “whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light, and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops”. While I am not a Christian, the use of biblical allegory and reference again captures the mood of the period, and the mood of today as well.
Slow Burn is very good, and Heathen is a very good album as well. I think, with a lot of newer albums by artists (or their latter-day work) there is always a bias towards their older work, that teens and young adults grew up with. I hope that with time, and the eventual release of the boxset edition, it will be reappraised, and I hope we do get Toy as an album in its own right, much like The Gouster was released in the ‘Who can I be Now?’ Boxset. Who knows?