on 1 March 2016
I mostly buy vinyl on Amazon but most of the reviews I have seen are for the CDs or downloads and generally consist of opinion on the content which is of little use to me. Though not my favourite of Bowie's, I do like this album but as its quite old and has already been heavily reviewed and raked over I feel there is little of constructive use I can add. Furthermore I think anyone prepared to shell out for a vinyl copy will most likely be already familiar with it, or at the very least be well informed about it. therefore this review will concentrate on the LP and packaging only.
First the sleeve. As you can see from Amazon's images the LP is now a Parlophone release, so the RCA logo's are gone. The front cover is laminated as per the first pressings. To the rear its the same image and handwritten style track list and annotations, but no 'Mainmain' or 'Gem Productions' although 'Gem Productions' appears on the labels and the logo is on the insert. The stereo recordings info is printed top left and there is a new catalogue number top right in small, bold type where RCA used to be. To bottom left is the UK copyright and licensing blurb, which brings me to my only real gripe about this item. The old US RCA blurb has been brushed over and the new one printed over the top. Unfortunately it has not been done very well on my copy. I can still read the words 'corporation 1971, RCA records, New York, NY, printed in USA' under the UK print. It's not glaringly obvious and OK, it's a bit of a nit - pick, but are these repressings not all about attention to details like this?
One good thing. I dislike bar codes very much, especially on records from the 60s and 70s as they look out of place and I think they always spoil the look of the thing. Here the bar code is on a sticker attached to the outer shrink wrap meaning it's very easily removed. A far better idea I think.
On opening the sleeve I find the vinyl housed in a plain white and poly lined inner. It has a, more or less, carbon copy of the original lyric insert and my copy also came with a second inner sleeve. This one was also plain white but without a liner and I think must be meant to represent the original RCA one, however it does not have the RCA records print on it. The records labels are the same orange as the old RCA one's and formatted in the same way. Where the originals had the RCA logo, these have 'BOWIE' in the RCA style outline lettering.
Regarding the LP itself - I have heard and read many reviews from people on and off Amazon expressing problems with modern 180gm pressings - edge warps and tracks jumping or skipping being the main ones. Well, I am happy to report no such problems here. The disc sits perfectly flat on my turntable and has played through both sides without issue. This is the first time I have heard the remastered version and I have to admit to being impressed. The whole album sounds fresher, cleaner and more defined and is considerable better at meaningful volume than my original.
I have given this item the full marks as I think it a good quality thing. With the exception of my little grump about the rear sleeve I have found nothing really wrong with it. If you are looking for a replacement for a knackered original or you are just curious about this album and fancy the vinyl, I see no reason not to buy it.
on 11 July 2011
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.
on 14 January 2015
Superb, and rather beautiful album, with some of Bowie's best ever songs. The album belongs to Mick Ronson and Rick Wakeman as much as to Bowie himself, and Trevor Bolder's bass is gorgeously melodic. Funny, engimatic, strange pop art with an almost baroque touch. "Ziggy" gets more attention - and it is a great record, but for me he was never more interesting, adventurous and playful. For real music lovers.
on 3 March 2016
Having owned the original pressing on vinyl way back in '71, I am more than familiar with this album. I sold most of my albums and moved to CD format about 20 years ago; a bad move in some ways (my old vinyl collection is now worth shed loads!) but my well-worn copy of Bowie's masterpiece needed an update. I've never been entirely 'converted' to CD format. Great for the car but not for a home listening experience. The compression used and various attempts over the years at the remastering of many classic LPs has often been disappointing, to say the least.
So, I've bitten the bullet. My CDs are now gradually being sold and vinyl is back on the record deck! And I'm loving it. This time I'm being more discerning in my choices; buying what I know and like, whether the record is brand new, remastered or just a very good condition original. Paying silly money for well-worn secondhand vinyl is not what I'm into. It's not about collecting and watching prices soar, it's about a listening experience, a handling of a cover that has original artwork and it's about nostalgia. 'Hunk Dory' meets all of these and more. The listening experience is first class. This vinyl has a fantastic reproduction and every nuance is faithfully captured. The cover and insert are a faithful reproduction of the original (albeit with a Parlophone name on the cover, rather than RCA Victor). And nostalgia is there in bucket loads.
The album arrived very promptly and well-packed. What more can I say, as a reviewer. It ticks all of the boxes and it's recommended.
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.
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.
on 20 June 2016
Due to the current ,great re interest in Vinyl as the best music format ever,i decided to buy this album from the late great David Bowie ,it's actually the only great Bowie Album i did not previously own .
what can i say about the LP ? it;s classic Bowie ,this is the first album that set him on the road to being a superstar .
This record ,was like a musical template ,for future classic;s like Ziggy Stardust ,and Aladdin sane ,
The album has 3 classic singles ,life on Mars ,Changes ,and Andy Warhol .
I think on changes ,Bowie is making a strange reference to his own sexuality ,while the track Oh you pretty things could be a very early anthem for gay people .celebrating being out ,and free ,,remember in the early 1970s attitudes to gay people was still rather conservative to say the least .so it;s great to see a star of Bowie's stature , doing his part to educate the world about gay people being decent normal human beings ,with the same feelings as everybody else .
This remastered version ,sounds really clear and clean on my record deck .
buy it with confidence ,and enjoy it ,as there will never be another artist like Bowie ,the master of pop / rock / art rock / glam rock .
on 17 May 2015
Another piece in my collation of early Bowie albums. Had most on vinyl at various times but never together and when you listen in order, the writing, persona changes and even the evolution of the musicians involved makes sense. Sublime artiste in the 70's.
on 1 April 2005
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...
on 20 February 2007
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