"Heroes" (album)

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Studio album by David Bowie


October 14, 1977


July 1977 - August 1977

Label (s) RCA Records

Format (s)

LP , CD , MC

Genre (s)

Art-rock , experimental , ambient

Title (number)


running time


  • George Murray - bass


Tony Visconti , David Bowie

Studio (s)

Hansa recording studio , West Berlin

"Heroes" Stage

"Heroes" is the twelfth studio album by David Bowie and was released in October 1977. It forms between Low and Lodger the central part of Bowie's so-called "Berlin Trilogy", in collaboration with Brian Eno was born. In “Heroes” the sound of Low was developed in a positive direction. “Heroes” is the only one of the three albums that was recorded entirely in Berlin. It was produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti , while Colin Thurston was the sound engineer for the recordings.

The title track is one of Bowie's most famous songs, a story of two lovers who meet in the shadow of the Berlin Wall . The quotation marks in the song title were intended to express a certain ironic distance to the romantic-pathetic lyrics, although the selection of this exact title as the album title was rather arbitrary. The song “Heroes” is the only narrative on the non- concept album , which is why Bowie finally chose this title. Critics consider the album to be Bowie's best, not least because of the contributions by Robert Fripps , who flew in from the United States and recorded his roles within a day. In 1980, while recording Double Fantasy , John Lennon was quoted as saying that his ambition was "to do something as good as " Heroes " ". The New Musical Express named “Heroes” album of the year.

Origin and style

“Heroes” was recorded in the Hansa recording studios in West Berlin . Co-producer Tony Visconti spoke of “one of my last great adventures recording albums. The studio was about two hundred yards from the wall. Guards with strong binoculars watched us in the control room. ”Bowie paid homage to Krautrock once again : the title alludes to the track Hero on the album Neu! '75 from new! on, the piece V-2 Schneider was suggested by Florian Schneider from Kraftwerk . Another influence is the music of Tangerine Dream and its founder Edgar Froese . Bowie described Froese's album Epsilon in Malaysian Pale as "an incredibly beautiful, enchanting, apt work ... That was the soundtrack to my life when I lived in Berlin."

The photo on the record cover was inspired by Erich Heckel's painting Roquairol , as was Iggy Pop's The Idiot (also 1977) .

Although “Heroes” contains several dark and atmospherically dense instrumental pieces such as Sense of Doubt or Neuköln [sic!], The LP appeared after the melancholy, inner low as a passionate and positive artistic expression. This was not only expressed in the title track, but also in the rocking Beauty and the Beast , Joe the Lion or the "ethno-rocking [en]" final track The Secret Life of Arabia . The text to Joe the Lion , according to Visconti, written and recorded in front of the microphone "in under an hour", stands for the principle of improvisation that prevails during the recording .

Cover artwork

The photo on the record cover was inspired by Erich Heckel's painting Roquairol , as was Iggy Pop's The Idiot (also 1977) . The black and white photo of Bowie with the empty, robotic look and the mysterious finger constellations was made in Tokyo . Masayoshi Sukita, who is experienced in the field of musician photography, submitted his portfolio to Bowie's management in the early 1970s to recommend himself for a collaboration. When Bowie was in Tokyo in 1977 for promotional purposes, the two artists met for a photo session. Bowie set the framework and poses and Masayoshi "focused [on] on getting the best moments". It was not clear to Masayoshi that Bowie was reproducing a motif by Erich Heckel. The photo was used again in 2013 when graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook created the cover for The Next Day . In doing so, he placed a square white area in the template in which the “new” title was entered and crossed out the original title lettering at the top with a black bar. Bowie's face can no longer be seen through the centrally placed white surface, but the "prancing" hands can still be seen.

Publication and reception

source rating
Pitchfork Media

Bowie's record company at the time, RCA, marketed “Heroes” with the slogan: “There's Old Wave. There's new wave . And there's David Bowie… ”The magazines Melody Maker and NME each named it“ Album of the Year ”. The LP reached number 3 on the album charts in Great Britain and spent a total of 32 weeks there, but was less successful in the United States at number 35.

In Germany, a version of the LP that differed from the original was released on RCA Victor PL 42372. The title “Heroes” / “Helden” is sung by Bowie in German from the third verse. The German text comes from background singer Antonia Maaß. A French version was also published as “Heroes” / “Héros” .

Bowie played numerous pieces of the LP live in the following year; the live album Stage (1978) testifies to this . Philip Glass had his Low Symphony followed by the suite “Heroes” Symphony , also based on Bowie's music . Several tracks from “Heroes” can be heard in the film Christiane F. - We Children from Bahnhof Zoo , in which Bowie himself also appears.

Track list

All David Bowie lyrics; Music by David Bowie with the exceptions mentioned.

Page 1:

  1. Beauty and the Beast - 3:32
  2. Joe the Lion - 3:05
  3. “Heroes” (Bowie, Eno) - 6:07
  4. Sons of the Silent Age - 3:15
  5. Blackout - 3:50

Page 2:

  1. V-2 Schneider - 3:10
  2. Sense of Doubt - 3:57
  3. Moss Garden (Bowie, Eno) - 5:03
  4. Neuköln (Bowie, Eno) - 4:34
  5. The Secret Life of Arabia (Bowie, Eno, Alomar) - 3:46

CD bonus tracks (1991):

  1. Abdulmajid (1) (previously unpublished, recorded 1976-79) - 3:40
  2. Joe the Lion (Remix 1991) - 3:08
1Name of his future wife Iman


The title track “Heroes” was released in advance for LP on September 23, 1977 as a single edited to a running time of around 3:30 minutes and came in at number 12 on the official charts in Great Britain. V-2 cutter was used as the B-side . Accordingly, the German version of the song appeared on the German market as "Helden" . The second single, Beauty and the Beast / Sense of Doubt, was released in January 1978 (UK number 39). In addition, 12 ″ versions of both singles - so-called maxi singles  - with different B-sides depending on the country of publication were also released.

To individual titles


“Heroes” is the title track of the LP of the same name. It's about two lovers who come together in the shadow of the Berlin Wall . The title was created in West Berlin as part of Bowie's Berlin trilogy and is one of the few internationally known pop songs about the Berlin Wall.


Neuköln is an instrumental piece by David Bowie and Brian Eno from 1977, which they wrote for the album “Heroes” . It was the last of three consecutive instrumentals on the B-side of the original vinyl album after Sense of Doubt and Moss Garden .

Neukölln (correctly spelled with a double 'l') is a district of Berlin . Bowie lived in West Berlin for some time in 1977, although not in Neukölln, but in Schöneberg . The music describes in part the uprooting of the Turkish immigrants , who make up a large part of the population in the district. Edgar Froese from Tangerine Dream was also from Neukölln and applies to Kraftwerk and Neu! as a musical influence for David Bowie's Berlin albums.

The NME journalists Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray described Neuköln as "an atmospheric piece: The Cold War , viewed through a curtain of blood or Harry Lime's final thoughts when he dies in The Third Man in the Sewer".

In the last section you can hear Bowie's plaintive saxophone “roaring over a haven of solitude, as if lost in the fog”.

On the French version of “Héros” and on the label of the German LP, the title Neukölln is spelled correctly, unlike on the cover and in the original English album.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. About the quotation marks in the title Bowie said to the journalist Charles Shaar Murray: "I'd felt that the use of quotes indicate a dimension of irony about the word 'Heroes' or about the whole concept of heroism." ("I felt as if the quotation marks indicated a dimension of irony in relation to the word 'hero' or the whole concept of heroism.") Interview in the New Musical Express , 1977, read here ( Memento of July 31, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) .
  2. ^ Nicholas Pegg, The Complete David Bowie , London: Reynolds & Hearn Ltd., 2006, ISBN 1-905287-15-1 , p. 312
  3. ^ A b c Pegg, The Complete David Bowie , pp. 307-309
  4. a b Christopher Sandford, Loving the Alien , 1996/97, pp. 182-193
  5. ^ A b David Buckley, Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story , 1999, pp. 320-325
  6. Mat Snow, Making Heroes , MOJO special issue 60 Years of Bowie , 2007, p. 69
  7. ^ A b c Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray, Bowie: An Illustrated Record , 1981, pp. 91-92
  8. CONTEMPORARY STORIES Tangerine Dream - Groove . In: Groove . January 26, 2015 ( groove.de [accessed September 24, 2018]).
  9. Tobias Rüther, Helden - David Bowie and Berlin , Berlin: Rogner and Bernhard, 2008, pp. 136f.
  10. Rüther, Helden , p. 161
  11. ^ Pegg, The Complete David Bowie , p. 112
  12. Tobias Rüther, Helden - David Bowie and Berlin , Rogner and Bernhard, Berlin 2008, p. 136 f.
  13. Hannah Schuh, Ralf Schlueter: Pop Stories. Cool pictures: Many famous record covers come from great contemporary photographers. For Art some of them remember legendary shootings . In: art - the art magazine . No. 2/2017 . Gruner + Jahr , February 2017, ISSN  0173-2781 , Masayoshi Sukita: David Bowie, Heroes, 1977, p. 34-36 .
  14. Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine on Allmusic (accessed November 20, 2018)
  15. Review by Ryan Dombal on Pitchfork Media (accessed November 20, 2018)
  16. ^ Ian Gittens, Art Decade , MOJO special issue 60 Years of Bowie , 2007, pp. 70–73
  17. a b David Bowie in the Official UK Charts (English)
  18. AMG, David Bowie, Heroes, Charts & Awards, Billboard Pop Albums
  19. ^ A b Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record : p. 92
  20. a b David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story : p. 325
  21. CONTEMPORARY STORIES Tangerine Dream - Groove . In: Groove . January 26, 2015 ( groove.de [accessed September 24, 2018]).