Hunky Dory

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Hunky Dory
Studio album by David Bowie
Released17 December 1971
RecordedApril 1971 at Trident Studios, London
GenreFolk rock, glam rock, art rock
Length39:04
LabelRCA
ProducerKen Scott, David Bowie
David Bowie chronology
The Man Who Sold the World
(1970)
Hunky Dory
(1971)
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
(1972)
Singles from Hunky Dory
  1. "Changes"
    Released: 7 January 1972
  2. "Life on Mars?"
    Released: 22 June 1973
 
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Hunky Dory
Studio album by David Bowie
Released17 December 1971
RecordedApril 1971 at Trident Studios, London
GenreFolk rock, glam rock, art rock
Length39:04
LabelRCA
ProducerKen Scott, David Bowie
David Bowie chronology
The Man Who Sold the World
(1970)
Hunky Dory
(1971)
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
(1972)
Singles from Hunky Dory
  1. "Changes"
    Released: 7 January 1972
  2. "Life on Mars?"
    Released: 22 June 1973
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic5/5 stars [1]
Robert ChristgauA–[2]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars [3][4]
Spin9/10 stars[5]

Hunky Dory is the fourth album by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, released by RCA Records in 1971. It was his first release through RCA, which would be his label for the next decade. Hunky Dory has been described by Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine as having "a kaleidoscopic array of pop styles, tied together only by Bowie's sense of vision: a sweeping, cinematic mélange of high and low art, ambiguous sexuality, kitsch, and class."[1]

The style of the album cover was influenced by a Marlene Dietrich photo book that Bowie took with him to the photo shoot.[6][7]

Production[edit]

With new bass player Trevor Bolder replacing Tony Visconti, Hunky Dory was the first production featuring all the members of the band that would become known the following year as Ziggy Stardust's Spiders From Mars. Also debuting with Bowie, in Visconti's place as producer, was another key member of the Ziggy phase, Ken Scott. The album's sleeve would bear the credit "Produced by Ken Scott (assisted by the actor)". The "actor" was Bowie himself, whose "pet conceit", in the words of NME critics Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray, was "to think of himself as an actor".[8]

Style and themes[edit]

Musical biographer David Buckley said of Hunky Dory, "Its almost easy-listening status and conventional musical sensibility has detracted from the fact that, lyrically, this record lays down the blueprint for Bowie's future career."[9] The opening track, "Changes", focused on the compulsive nature of artistic reinvention ("Strange fascination, fascinating me/Changes are taking the pace I'm going through") and distancing oneself from the rock mainstream ("Look out, you rock 'n' rollers"). However, the composer also took time to pay tribute to his influences with the tracks "Song for Bob Dylan", "Andy Warhol" and the Velvet Underground inspired "Queen Bitch".

Following the hard rock of Bowie's previous album The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory saw the partial return of the fey pop singer of Space Oddity, with light fare such as "Kooks" (dedicated to his young son, known to the world as Zowie Bowie but legally named Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones) and the cover "Fill Your Heart" sitting alongside heavier material like the occult-tinged "Quicksand" and the semi-autobiographical "The Bewlay Brothers". Between the two extremes was "Oh! You Pretty Things", whose pop tune hid lyrics, inspired by Nietzsche, predicting the imminent replacement of modern man by "the Homo Superior", and which has been cited as a direct precursor to "Starman" from Bowie's next album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.[10]

Release and aftermath[edit]

Bowie had been without a recording contract when he started work on the album at Trident Studios in April 1971. RCA Records in New York heard the tapes and signed him to a three-album deal on 9 September 1971, releasing Hunky Dory on 17 December.[9][11] Supported by the single "Changes", the album scored generally favourable reviews and sold reasonably well on its initial release, without being a major success.[8] Melody Maker called it "the most inventive piece of song-writing to have appeared on record in a considerable time", while NME described it as Bowie "at his brilliant best".[12] Stateside, Rolling Stone opined "Hunky Dory not only represents Bowie's most engaging album musically, but also finds him once more writing literally enough to let the listener examine his ideas comfortably, without having to withstand a barrage of seemingly impregnable verbiage before getting at an idea".[13] However, it was only after the commercial breakthrough of Ziggy Stardust in mid-1972 that Hunky Dory became a hit, climbing to #3 in the UK charts.[14] In 1973, RCA released "Life on Mars?" as a single, which also made #3 in the UK.[15]

In 1998, Q magazine readers voted Hunky Dory the 43rd greatest album of all time, while in 2000 the same magazine placed it at #16 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2003, the album was ranked #107 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In the same year, VH1 placed it at #47 and the Virgin All Time Top 1000 Albums chart placed it at #16. In 2004, it was ranked #80 on Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of the 1970s. In 2006, TIME magazine chose it as one of the 100 best albums of all time.[16]

Bowie himself considers the album to be one of the most important in his career. Speaking in 1999, he said: "Hunky Dory gave me a fabulous groundswell. I guess it provided me, for the first time in my life, with an actual audience – I mean, people actually coming up to me and saying, 'Good album, good songs.' That hadn't happened to me before. It was like, 'Ah, I'm getting it, I'm finding my feet. I'm starting to communicate what I want to do. Now: what is it I want to do?' There was always a double whammy there."[17]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by David Bowie, except where noted.[18]

Side one
  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
Side two
  1. "Fill Your Heart" (Biff Rose, Paul Williams) – 3:07
  2. "Andy Warhol" – 3:56
  3. "Song for Bob Dylan" – 4:12
  4. "Queen Bitch" – 3:18
  5. "The Bewlay Brothers" – 5:22

Bonus tracks (1990 Rykodisc)[edit]

  1. "Bombers" (Previously unreleased track, recorded in 1971, mixed 1990)[19] – 2:38 (see note below)
  2. "The Supermen" (Alternate version recorded on 12 November 1971 during sessions for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, originally released on Revelations - A Musical Anthology for Glastonbury Fayre in July 1972, compiled by the organisers of Glastonbury Festival at which Bowie had played in 1971.)[19][20] – 2:41
  3. "Quicksand" (Demo version, recorded in 1971, mixed 1990)[19] – 4:43
  4. "The Bewlay Brothers" (Alternate mix)[19] – 5:19

(Note) There is a very rare LP sampler issued by RCA prior to the release of the album with the GEM logo on the cover and "Bombers" appears followed by the linking cross talk that leads into "Andy Warhol", clearly indicating that Bowie had originally intended it to be the opening track on the second side (instead of "Fill Your Heart").

Personnel[edit]

Technical personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Album

YearChartPeak
Position
1972UK Albums Chart3 [21]
1975Billboard 20093 [22]
1972Norwegian Album Chart33
1972Australian Album Chart39

Single

YearSingleChartPeak
Position
1972"Changes"Billboard Hot 10066 [23]
1973"Life on Mars?"UK Singles Chart3 [21]
1975"Changes"Billboard Pop Singles41 [23]

Certifications[edit]

OrganizationLevelDate
BPI – UKGold25 January 1982 (1982-01-25) [24]
BPI – UKPlatinum25 January 1982 (1982-01-25) [24]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "(((Hunky Dory > Review)))". allmusic. Retrieved 13 March 2004. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (30 December 1971). "Consumer Guide (22)". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "David Bowie". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Hunky Dory Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Weisbard & Marks, 1995. p.55
  6. ^ Dimery, Robert (2005). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. London: Quintet Publishing. p. 254. ISBN 978-1-84403-392-8. 
  7. ^ "500 Greatest Albums: Hunky Dory – David Bowie". Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Carr, Roy; Murray, Charles Shaar (1981). David Bowie: An Illustrated Record. New York: Avon Books. pp. 7–11. ISBN 0-380-77966-8. 
  9. ^ a b Buckley, David (2000) [1999]. Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story. London: Virgin Books. p. 112. ISBN 0-7535-0457-X. 
  10. ^ Carr, Roy; Murray, Charles Shaar (1981). David Bowie: An Illustrated Record. New York: Avon Books. p. 44. ISBN 0-380-77966-8. 
  11. ^ Carr, Roy; Murray, Charles Shaar (1981). David Bowie: An Illustrated Record. New York: Avon Books. p. 40. ISBN 0-380-77966-8. 
  12. ^ Pegg, Nicholas (2004) [2000]. The Complete David Bowie. London: Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. pp. 265–272. ISBN 1-903111-73-0. 
  13. ^ Mendelsohn, John. "Hunky Dory". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 June 2008. 
  14. ^ Sheppard, David (February 2007). "60 Years of Bowie". MOJO Classic: 24. 
  15. ^ Buckley, David (2000) [1999]. Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story. London: Virgin Books. p. 624. ISBN 0-7535-0457-X. 
  16. ^ Josh Tyrangiel; Alan Light (13 November 2006). "The All-TIME 100 Albums". TIME (Time, Inc). 
  17. ^ Chris Roberts interview with David Bowie in Uncut, October 1999, Issue 29.
  18. ^ David Bowie. Hunky Dory (RCA Records, 1971).
  19. ^ a b c d David Bowie. Hunky Dory (Rykodisc, 1990).
  20. ^ "EMI 30th Anniversary 2CD Limited Edition (2002)". The Ziggy Stardust Companion. Retrieved 22 June 2008. 
  21. ^ a b "UK Top 40 Hit Database". Retrieved 23 June 2008. 
  22. ^ "(((Hunky Dory > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums)))". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 June 2008. 
  23. ^ a b "(((Hunky Dory > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles)))". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 June 2008. 
  24. ^ a b "BPI Certified Awards". Retrieved 23 June 2008. 

References[edit]