17 December 2013

17th December - David Bowie's Hunky Dory

Artist – Album: David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Released: 17th December 1971
Sounds Like: Getting the ball rolling 

For one of the most successful and influential artists in pop history, David Bowie didn’t half get off to a slow start. Although he scored a big hit in 1969 with ‘Space Oddity’, the Thin White Duke spent the following years being viewed as just a one hit wonder, a bit of an oddity himself. His next few albums, Space Oddity and The Man Who Fell to Earth, met with little fanfare and it was no surprise that Hunky Dory – despite hosting ‘Changes’ and ‘Life on Mars?’ for goodness sake – also came and went without much attention. Then, in ’72, came The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and suddenly the world was ready for super-Starman Bowie. Fans clamouring for more releases were sated when Bowie, in true Blue Peter-esque style, said “here’s one I made earlier” and Hunky Dory marched back up the charts.

It may not be anywhere near as cohesive as Ziggy Stardust, but the songwriting on display here is simply extraordinary. As well as the aforementioned ‘Changes’ and ‘Life on Mars?’, the eccentric pop of ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’, the glam rock of ‘Queen Bitch’ and the folky ‘Song for Bob Dylan’ are splendidly crafted songs. Even the apparently throwaway ‘Kooks’ is delightfully perfect. At times there is the sneaking suspicion that Bowie hadn’t yet  decided on which direction he wanted to take, and the two more experimental cuts ‘Quicksand’ and ‘The Bewlay Brothers’ do begin to drag a little bit, but it’s charming and novel to hear a rock icon figure things out.

Ziggy Stardust may have been the real catalyst for one of rock and pop’s greatest careers, but Hunky Dory showed the world just how much talent had lay dormant, waiting for people to catch on.

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Changes – 3:37
2.       Oh! You Pretty Things – 3:12
3.       Eight Line Poem – 2:55
4.       Life on Mars? – 3:53
5.       Kooks – 2:53
6.       Quicksand – 5:08
7.       Fill Your Heart – 3:07
8.       Andy Warhol – 3:56
9.       Song for Bob Dylan – 4:12
10.   Queen Bitch – 3:18
11.   The Bewlay Brothers – 5:22

Listen to ‘Life on Mars?’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v--IqqusnNQ

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