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Hunky Dory (1971) – David Bowie

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Hunky Dory - David Bowie

‘Hunky Dory’ by David Bowie. Regarded as one of David Bowie’s best albums of all time. The first vinyl I ever got for Christmas it was great. As I am a big Bowie fan and cried my eyes out when he passed, expect a lot more reviews in the future of Bowie’s work. There is quite a lot to talk about when it comes down to this album.

Who is David Bowie?

David Bowie is possibly, if not, the biggest musical icon of all time. For over 5 decades he has inspired artists such as Madonna, The Smiths and Marilyn Manson. Without him, we wouldn’t have a lot of bands around today. His career was popular not only by his brilliant musical talent but also by style. Throughout his career you can observe a number of kooky outfits and personas that defined his career. He is impossible to forget. So as well as his musical style, his stage presence and incredible design that influenced generations of artists to come.

During his lifetime, he became one of the world’s best-selling music artists. His record sales estimated at around 140 million albums worldwide. Furthermore, in the UK, he was awarded nine platinum album certifications, eleven gold and eight silver, releasing eleven number-one albums. And it doesn’t even stop there! In the US, he received five platinum and nine gold certifications. He rightly so earned his place the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. The man is a legend whose legacy will last for the years to come. And although I could ramble on about him forever, let’s just do it one album review at a time shall we?

The tracks for ‘Hunky Dory’:
  1. Changes
  2. Oh! You Pretty Things
  3. Eight Line Poem
  4. Life On Mars?
  5. Kooks
  6. Quicksand
  7. Fill Your Heart
  8. Andy Warhol
  9. Song For Bob Dylan
  10. Queen Bitch
  11. The Bewlay Brothers

‘Hunky Dory’, The album itself

The time of long-haired David Bowie. ‘Hunky Dory’ was released on December 1971. This boho-style album was David Bowie’s fourth studio album and is still regarded as one of Bowie’s best pieces of work today, years later. Bowie really revealed himself as a true poet through this album and not just because there is a track featured called ‘8 Line Poem’. The lyrics he uses writing ‘Hunky Dory’ still remain fresh today. The sound of this album is a mixture of nostalgia and melancholy. It’s all beautiful really.

Themes of change and reinvention are strong in this album. Bowie himself has always been described as ‘king of the outcasts’ or simply a bit weird. So with that in mind, this album really spoke to the younger generation of the 70’s becoming more self-aware if you like. “And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.” This is further shown in the jolly, nursery-rhyme style song ‘Kooks’. In my opinion, I believe the song was Bowie’s way of comforting the younger generation. ‘Kooks’ is almost reaching out to the kids who felt a bit different.

Paying Tributes

As I have said before, David Bowie has been a massive influence on many different artists today, but he had to start somewhere right? He can’t look up to himself. Within the ‘Hunky Dory’ track list we see the honourable mentions of artists like Andy Warhol and the talented Bob Dylan. Starting with the track ‘Andy Warhol’, Bowie was heavily inspired by this artist’s creative spirit hence the reason why Bowie was an expressive creative being. Unfortunately, Warhol disliked the song. But even with the harsh criticism, Bowie didn’t respect him any less. Neither did Warhol for that matter, he adored the Ziggy Stardust glamour that David Bowie had.

I don’t think there was ever an artist on this planet who didn’t have some kind of respect for Bob Dylan. ‘Song For Bob Dylan’ was an ode to the folk singer himself. Bowie describes the power of his lyrics being able to ‘pin us to the floor’ and such. It’s such a gentle and beautiful song. The artists both happened to meet up a lot during the 70’s and 80’s, in which Bob Dylan was apparently quite rude to Bowie. Just proves the classic saying don’t meet your idols, huh.

Favourite tracks?

What I love about ‘Hunky Dory is that it has a beautiful balance of happy-go-lucky upbeat tracks, and deep meaningful songs. I sure love both, but my favourite song on this album without a doubt is ‘Quicksand’. Poetry just like the rest of this album, this slow harmonic melody talks about the self, thoughts and feelings. “I’m not a prophet or a stone age man, just a mortal with potential of a superman”. I don’t even know how to explain it, I just love that line. It’s a song that is great for easy listening, but if you really listen it just makes you think. I have a deep appreciation for songs that have that kind of power.

I am certainly not about to disregard that some of Bowie’s most successful songs are on here. ‘Life On Mars?’, ‘Changes’ and ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ have all been featured in the ‘Bowie Legacy’ album, released after his death. It’s impossible not to love these. A lot of artists would give their fucking legs to write something as iconic as ‘Life On Mars?’ The dancing piano composition of these tracks are both punchy and delicate, dramatic and quiet. With the verses starting gentle building up to large choruses. It’s fucking good enough to bring a tear to your eye.

Conclusion and Rating?

This is by far one of my favourite David Bowie albums,spilling with emotion and poetry, it goes without saying that this is definitely one of Bowie’s best albums. The messages and themes intertwined defined a change within younger generations, and continues to inspire those today both young and old and upcoming artists. Without a doubt, this album gets a 5 star rating from me and presumably a lot of others too.