23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stands the test of time
I guess the test of true song writing ability is when songs can sound as good today as when they were released 40 years ago (Hunky Dory was released in 1971). What can I say? One look at the track listing is enough to see how many classic Bowie songs are here - `Changes', `Oh! You pretty things', `Life on Mars?', `Kooks', `Andy Warhol', `Queen Bitch'. This is not to say...
Published on 11 July 2011 by G. Seabrook
4 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disapointing
Well I bought this album as it was sold as being a secret classic when compared to The Rise and Fall. And sure enough it kicks off with one of his best songs ever, if not his best, the brilliant Changes. nothing wrong with this number bar perhaps the fade out sax.
Oh you Pretty Things starts, nice upbeat jaunty number you think and then Bowie starts singing...
Published 16 months ago by Tom Mulder Tom
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stands the test of time,
I guess the test of true song writing ability is when songs can sound as good today as when they were released 40 years ago (Hunky Dory was released in 1971). What can I say? One look at the track listing is enough to see how many classic Bowie songs are here - `Changes', `Oh! You pretty things', `Life on Mars?', `Kooks', `Andy Warhol', `Queen Bitch'. This is not to say the other songs aren't classics, but anyone who embraced Bowie whilst they were growing up will be as familiar with these tracks as the alphabet.
So what does `Hunky Dory' Remastered (released in 1999) give us that's new? To be honest, I'm not sure! I'm familiar with Bowie probably most on record and tape. That probably gives me an age of 100 or something. What's my point? Well, you obviously don't get the scratches and hiss of the aforementioned medium, but you still get the same songs. Classics. If that makes me a heathen then I'm guilty as charged.
`Hunky Dory' is a listening delight, remastered or otherwise. Stand out tracks? I'm going to pick out one amongst the many. This probably changes on a daily basis, but with a gun to my head I'd have to say `Queen Bitch'. It's got a killer riff, with a rock staccato feel that leaves you bouncing off the walls.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First of Bowie's Great Albums,
This is the first of the great trio of Bowie albums that continued with Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane. I can't think of a mainstream artist who has produced three such perfect examples of their art in succession. Ziggy Stardust is generally accepted as the best of the three, but I disagree. For me Hunky Dory was the pinnacle of Bowie's songwriting ability. It is a quieter more sophisticated album than Man Who Sold The World.
I first saw Bowie live in Harlow, Essex, somewhere between Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust. I have memories of Bowie playing the first half of the set at the piano featuring much of the material from Hunky Dory before unveiling the Spiders for an electric Ziggy set for the second half. This album attacks the senses like virtually no other. It has a feel of greatness about it. Great albums have no weaknesses. This is a great album. For sometime I never got past the first side of the album - it was that good. I continually played Changes, Oh You Pretty Things, Life on Mars, Kooks and then went back to play them again. It was only later on that I realised that there were gems on side two as well. Songs of passion - the art school feel of Andy Warhol and Song for Bob Dylan and The Bewley Brothers was just one of those songs that confused but amazed.
Above all the thing that makes Hunky Dory a great album is the atmosphere it emits. Bowie has hauled himself back from the edge of insanity as suggested by the Man Who Sold The World and turned into the consummate songwriter - more outward going and less introverted and ready to move into the next phase of his life - a strange spaceman ready to change the rock map for ever. I almost look upon Hunky Dory as Bowie's folk album.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you stay you won't be sorry,
Until recently I only had a Bowie compilation CD in my collection (Roxy Music were my 70s idols) but I have rectified that with Hunky Dory. The two massive hits here are 'Changes' and 'Life on Mars?' but in no way do these classics prepare for you for the other British folky hippy delights on this album. There's a real mix of styles here and Rick Wakeman's piano playing is great. I love 'Oh You Pretty Things' and I can't help wondering if any baby ever had a more touching and charming song written for him than 'Kooks'. Buy the CD rather than the MP3 download as you get the booklet with all the lyrics plus the utterly bizarre Pharaoh photos and the hand-written track listings on the back.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best album by anyone, anywhere, anytime,
I bought Ziggy Stardust when it was released, took it round to my mate's to play and he'd already bought a copy, so I took mine back & swapped it for Hunky Dory. Did I get the better of that deal? This is the last of the great hippy albums, before everything went glam rock. It's thoughtful, introspective, brilliantly lyricised, truly romantic and beautiful in spades.
For me this is the best album ever, quite an accolade when you look at the contenders. It's populated by sensitively textured characters - spectral Bewlay brothers, scratchy\clawing Robert Zimmermans, cement fixed Andy Warhols and Clara puts her head between her paws (and more). Twice as good as Ziggy, Three times better than Diamond Dogs, Alladin Sane or Man Who Sold the World (or the oft overlooked Pin-ups)and ten times better than Heroes or Let's Dance or Young Americans. I know Bowie's chameleon, comedian, corinthian and caricature but this is an intimate facet rarely seen, before the fame kicked in, and is truly a flawless collection of fine vintage songs. Drink them in and enjoy
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a pretty face...,
1971 was a very productive year for Bowie he had signed to RCA, and now he had an American lawyer Tony Defries as his manager who with his "Mainman" company was building Bowie to be the next big thing.
"Hunky Dory" was recorded at Trident Studios in London with the Bowie assisting Ken Scott with the production.
Wakeman's piano, Ronson and Bowie's acoustic guitar dominate the album, with the sound of Ronson's string arrangements on "Life on Mars?" and the easy listening "Changes" which give the tracks more depth.
The easy listening doesn't take away the from disturbing imagery on songs such as "Oh you pretty Things", Hunky Dory the title alone is misleading as it hides fact the album is a collection of attractive melodies, seductive arrangements and choruses with the juxtaposition of lyrics which for the most part where as complex as the previous album, which had attacked with a full frontal assault of the audio kind with the heavy power trio of Ronson, Woodmansey and Visconti, now with the release of this album the songs came gift-wrapped in prettiness you the listener are taken off guard, which leaves you wide open for the observations, and predictions of the material.
The opening track of the collection "Changes" starts with the elegant piano sound of Wakeman and Ronson's string arrangement, these set the scene for the verses and stuttering chorus, Ch-Ch-Changes would become an organising principle for Bowies music, he neatly states in the song "Look out all you Rock and Rollers", for him rock was done from the outside as an actor and never becoming a rocker in reality just passing comment and watching from afar.
"Changes" has never been a hit but is included in any "best of" or "greatest hits" that record companies put together such is the popularity of the track.
"Oh you Pretty Things" sounds "McCartneyesque" in construction but if you listen closely to the words with it's reference to "Cracks in the sky" indications of split personality reveal a man ready for the psychiatrist's couch. This song segues into "Eight line Poem", which is a hushed still life with Ronson's light country style guitar, this is framed by Bowies piano chords which is the perfect backdrop for Bowie's parody of an American singing style that most of his contemporaries where using at the time, the theory being if you sounded American you got closer to the blues master print and so you sounded more authentic.
" Life on Mars?" is a masterwork where the song is built around delicate piano playing which collides with the guitar sound of Ronson along with his huge string arrangement.
Bowie weaves a tale of a world where the heroine of the song attempts to escape her existence by going to the movies, only to discover that the film she is watching is her life, as she watches she sees herself going to the cinema, as a paradox the song returns to the scene of urban chaos with Bowie exclaiming, "Oh man! Look at those cavemen go, it's the freakiest show .... is there life on Mars?" Listen very carefully and you can hear the chords from "My way" the standard written for Sinatra.
Respite is provided by "Kooks" which is a warning to his son Zowie with the line "And if you ever have to go to school don't pick any fights with the bullies or the cads", " Cause I'm not much cop at punching other people's dads" he tells his son not to draw attention to himself.
The mood of "Kooks" is darkened with "Quicksand" which deals with the futility of the human condition and how the philosophies he follows of Zen, Homo Superior and the occult clash and the fact that fascism came from similar roots, this is over 12 string guitar, this song works because of one of the most moving melodies of any Bowie song, the line "playing in a silent film" he is setting himself up as a bit-part actor waiting for a starring role.
The song "Fill your Heart" this is a track written by the song writing team of Biff Rose and Paul Williams. The words read like some forgotten Hippy manifesto with its talk of "happiness is here today and lovers with minds free of thoughts unkind", in view of Bowies own lyric content is ironic as the other songs on the collection glorify individualism and self absorption, this doesn't take any from the fact that it's a damm fine pop song.
Bowie has never hid his influences so with "Andy Warhol" he paid homage to Warhol,
The track itself studio backchat at the start and some Ronson and Bowie Spanish-styled guitar work in the middle 8.
"Song for Bob Dylan" is the song on the album that just doesn't work; Bowie doesn't know whether to parody Dylan or just be himself, the redeeming fact of the song is that it has a catchy melody and a winning chorus.
"Queen Bitch" is probably the best song that Lou Reed didn't write, if you read the back cover of the album it says in brackets (some V.U. white light returned with thanks) it's a tale of cross-dressing and gay love set against the power chords of Ronsons guitar, with the line "She so swishy in her satin and tat in her frock coat and bipperty-bopperty hat, Oh God I could do better than that", is Bowie pleading or making a statement?
The finale is one of the important songs in Bowies back catalogue as it deals in fictional form with his relationship with his late half-brother Terry, "The Bewlay Brothers", the track evidently means a great deal to him as he named his music publishing company after the track, only recently has Bowie begun performing the song live.
An album that grows with time and has a lot more depth than would seem on the first listening, an essential part of any Bowie collection...
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bowie's best,
This classic album from 1971 is one of Bowie's very best albums. It was largely forgotten with the success of Ziggy Stardust, but unlike that later fantasy themed album, this album references some of Bowie's idols and contains as many classic tracks as Ziggy.
Take three out of the first four tracks: 'Changes', 'Oh! You Pretty Things' and 'Life on Mars'. Has there been a stronger start to album than that? There is brilliant song-writing both lyrically and musically on little known songs like 'Song for Bob Dylan'. Bowie describes Dylan as "with a voice like sand and glue" then later that he "put the fear in a whole lot more".
Musically this is basically the Ziggy Stardust band but with the oddball extra of Rick Wakeman on Piano. This album was recorded a year or two before Rick Wakeman started his own successful career, and if you've been listening to this album as long as I have you can't imagine it without the Piano. Wakeman's Piano is most prominent on 'Fill your Heart" which is the only song Bowie didn't write.
As with most Bowie albums this is a marvellously perverse mixture. Take 'Quicksand' for example, this has a wonderfully catchy chorus but the lyrics are all about getting closer to death - "knowledge comes with deaths release".
The remaster is excellent and the album sounds as good as I've ever heard it. A must have for any serious rock music collection.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He never made a better record,
By A Customer
With Hunky Dory Bowie began his assault on the mainstream. Though not an immediate hit, Hunky Dory is know considered by many as a classic. There are great songs on this record 'Changes' and 'Life On Mars' were big hits, there are touches of McCartney on 'Pretty Things' and 'Kooks' and self analysis on 'Quicksand'. There were tributes to Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground on side two of the album, the last track 'Bewlay Brothers' is a song about his schizophernic half brother Terry Burns. Bowie may have released more influential and innovative records in his career but he never released a better one.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bowie at his best.,
By A Customer
Everyone`s said it..HunkyDory is accessible, tuneful, varied but people don`t mention the production which to me is unique giving it a vibe that virtually is lush 70s sound...Queen came from this album, Roxy Music would have sounded like this if they decded to have a heart...all the hippydippy hippies that came before this are both worshipped and lambasted on it...it goes from camp melodrama to Velvet dirt...New Romantics,Marc Almond.Pet Shop Boys,Prefab Sprout,Beautiful South Morrissey...most of English...yes,English rock of the eighties and nineties came from this one artist and particularly this one album. And remember that the very English combination of gay `camp` and rocking out came from this album and that virtually is the unique contribution Britian has made to world music. Er,why hasn`t he been knighted yet?
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest albums ever made,
By A Customer
Words can't really sum up the way I felt when I first head this album. Awe-struck is good. Thankful is another. The sheer kiss the sky splendour of "Life On Mars?" The heart-breaking misery of "uicksand"? The bouncing, feel good "Oh you pretty things?" They're all here, on which is widely regarded as one of Bowies, if not the worlds, best recordings.
you really can't go wrong with this album. I hate to use the cliche of "something for everyone", but, well, it does.
Both hunky and dory indeed.
Now go and buy it. Twice.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bowie's Finest Moments,
This was the first album I bought and has stayed with me for over 30 years. It took me through my teenage years and I turned back to it when my own children were born. There is a charm that pre-dates the more successful years to come, this is a master song writer and performer at his finest. We have all heard "Changes" and "Life On Mars" but look deeper into this record especially at "Quicksand" and my own personal favourite, "The Bewlay Brothers" The Album has a balance and pace that one rarely sees, moving from the the family warmth of "Kooks" to the solemnity and reflection of "Bewlay Brothers" This album is life itself.
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