October 14, 1977, was the release date for David Bowie’s Heroes album. It was his second collaboration with Brian Eno — Low had been released earlier in January. Both albums were recorded at Hansa Tonstudio in West Berlin, located alongside the Berlin Wall (known as Hansa by the Wall, it’s where U2 would record Achtung Baby 15 years later… after the Wall had fallen).
Heroes continued Bowie’s and Eno’s exploration of expressionistic instrumentals and avante-garde arrangements influenced by German synth-pop and post-punk sounds (“krautrock”). Bowie said of the album, “It’s louder and harder and played with more energy [than Low ] …” Much of that was due to guitarist Robert Fripp’s involvement with the album. He added burning sonics to complement guitarist Carlos Alomar.
The title track is often acclaimed to be one of Bowie’s best songs. Amid Alomar’s viola-sounding riff and Fripp’s grinding buzzing, Bowie’s vocals start off in a conversational croon but climax with a heart-wrenching operatic cry. Bowie said the idea for the song came from his daily observation of two lovers who met over the lunch hour at the Wall under a guard turret — the same guard turret every day at lunchtime. As the couple embraced, he imagined the backstory to their relationship.
RCA Records marketed the LP as “There’s Old Wave. There’s New Wave. And there’s David Bowie…” Heroes would be named Album of the Year by NME magazine, it would peak at #35 on The Billboard 200, and John Lennon would say in 1980, as he was making Double Fantasy, that he hoped “to do something as good as Heroes.”