Once upon a time, David Bowie moved to Berlin, snorted epic amounts of cocaine, and recorded some killer tunes. So killer, in fact, that what has come to be know as the “Berlin trilogy” — Low, Heroes, and Lodger — have been universally recognized as some of the most groundbreaking and influential pop music ever recorded by a strung out ninety-pound drug addict (though John Frusciante certainly gave him a run for his money). But in all seriousness, these albums kick ass like few have before or after and have managed to sound fresh to this day, a feat not much electronic based pop from the 70s has been able to pull off — I’m looking at you Styx. Though Low is easily the best album of the three, the high-point of the trilogy is the track “Heroes” from the album of the same name.
The thing that sets “Heroes” apart from three albums worth of brilliant electro-pop is the stellar live performances from Robert Fripp and David Bowie. Fripp conjures some downright strange but shimmeringly pretty sounds from his guitar, tapping into the style of violin-like sustain long before it was popular and doing it better than almost every imitator that followed. Bowie’s vocal is a masterclass in angsty longing, using three mics staggered 9 inches, 20 feet, and 50 feet away to capture the pure anguish in his voice. When he finally opens up on the third verse, he radiates pain in a way few singers have ever managed. Thank God for cocaine and the Thin White Duke.