David bowie Hunky Dory is the fourth album by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, recorded in the summer of 1971 and released by RCA Records that December. It was his first release through RCA, which would be his label for the next decade.
01 “Changes” – 3:37
02 “Oh! You Pretty Things” – 3:12
03 “Eight Line Poem” – 2:55
04 “Life on Mars?” – 3:53
05 “Kooks” – 2:53
06 “Quicksand” – 5:08
07 “Fill Your Heart” (Paul Williams, Biff Rose) – 3:07
08 “Andy Warhol” – 3:56
09 “Song for Bob Dylan” – 4:12
10 “Queen Bitch” – 3:18
11 “The Bewlay Brothers” – 5:22
Bonus tracks (1990 Rykodisc)
12 “Bombers” (Previously unreleased track, recorded in 1971, mixed 1990; 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”)) 2:38
13 “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 the Glastonbury Festival at which Bowie had played in 1971) 2:41
14 “Quicksand” (Demo version, recorded in 1971, mixed 1990) 4:43
15 “The Bewlay Brothers” (Alternate mix) 5:19
1980s and 1990s
Following its initial release on compact disc in the mid-1980s, Hunky Dory was rereleased in CD format in 1990, by Rykodisc/EMI, with the bonus tracks listed above.
In 1999, the album was reissued by Virgin/EMI (7243 521899 0 8), without bonus tracks, but with 24-bit digitally remastered sound.
In 2015, the album was remastered for the Five Years 1969-1973 box set. It was released in CD, vinyl, and digital formats, both as part of this compilation and separately.
“Life on Mars?” (1973)
DAVID BOWIE, the swinging/mod Garbo, male femme fatale, confidante to and darling ofthe avant-garde on both sides oftheAtlantic, and shameless outrage, is back, and with a bang, although bearing little resemblance to the dangerous loon)’ of ‘The Man Who Sold The World‘ from earlier this year.
For the most part, Dave is back, after an affair with heavy! high-energy killer techniques, back into rus 1966-ish, Tony Xewley/pop-rock thang, and happily so. ‘Hunky Dory’ is his most easily accessible, and thus most readily enjoyable work since his ‘Man Of Words/Man of Music’ album of 1969.
Much of The Man Who Sold The World’s appeal is derived from the incredible ferocity of Bowie’s accompanist’s instrumental backing and from Tony Visconti’s mas1erful production, wbich propelled it into a tie with The Move’s ‘Shazam!’ for the title ofthe best-recorded and mixed heavy! alourn of all etemity. Relative to Bowie’s own talents, it was erratic in the extreme, tedious rnusic and hopelessly obscure (and sometimes downright embarrassing) words altemating frequeotJy within the space of a verse with exciting melodie phrases and poignant, incisive Iyrics.
‘Hunky Dory’ not only represents Bowie’s most eegaging album musically, but also finds him once morewriting literally enough to let the listener examine his ideas comfortably, without baving la withstand a barrage of seemingly impregnabie verbiage before getting at an idea – only in “The Bewlay Brothers’ does be succumb to the ternptation to grant rus poetic faculties completely free rem, and there with expecled.ly fiustrating results.
Here the backing, including strings, doesn’t oppress hun as il sometimes did in ‘The Man’, but rather creates a casual pop atmospbere in whichDave’s voice, which loves to entertain company, is free to perfonn all manneroflittle tricks for us. To top all ofthis off, Ken Scott’s production is quite splendid – delicious Iittle flourishes of the sart that the casual listener will not detect but that one wbo gives tbe
While compiling material for this album Dave’s thoughts apparently tumed frequently to the irnminence ofthe birth ofhis fust son, Zowie, which preoccupation is reflected in the album ‘s two obvious candidates for release as a single, ‘Ohl You Prett:yThings’ and ‘Kooks’. The fonner, which was a hit in England for Herman ‘s Hennit Peter Noone, intimates that Homo Superior – the superman race – is about to emerge, impLicitly in the form ofthe wee Bowie. ‘Kooks’, which is even catchier, finds Dave urging the infant to stick around with his folks, sharneless aberrants thougb they maybe, with such lines as, “Don’t piek fights with the bullies or the cac!sl’Cause l’m not much cop
at punching other people’s Dads”, revealing rernarkabLe self-candor on papa’s pan.
‘Eight Line Poem’, which is tacked onto the end of ‘Pretty Things’ for reasons obvious only to Dave, is musically blah but boasts the following haiku-ish couplet or whatever at its eonclusion: “But the key to the city/is in the sun that pins the branches to the sky”.
‘Changes’ bas an irresistible stuttered chorus sung by dozens of overdubbed Daves altemating with faintly Newley-ishly-delivered verses thar may be construed as a young rnan’s auempt to reekon how he ‘ll react when it’s his time to be on the maligned side of the generation schism.
‘Quicksand’, a melodically lovely affair that boasts superb singing from Dave and a beautiful guitar motif from Mick Ronson, also speaks of confusion. through two verses it’s typical erratic Bowie – a flaccid, strained image in the same breath with an extremely etfective one (as in ‘Tm tbe twisted name on Garbo’s eyes/l’m living proof of Churchili’s lies”), until in the third it abruptly becomes clear and controlled as it betrays the paradoxes the Bowie intellect finds most troubling:
l’m not a prophet or a stone age man lust amortal with potential of a superman I’rn living on l’m tethered to the logic of Homo Sapien Can ‘t take my eyes trom the great salvation Of bullshit faith …
A delightfully and appropriately good natured rendition of Biff Ros’s Sprightly “Fill Your Heart” opens side two ,ending with a truly deft Swoop into falsetto by the Bowie vocals and a taste of the provocative Bowie saxophone ,heretofore left un-unveiled on the Bowie records
Then Dave fulters momentarily with two tunes that suggest to Lewis Segal and other astute Bowie watchers that the lad’s tongue may be less firmly against his cheek than originally suspected when he suggests that he is in the vanguard of and thetefore
a qualified commentator on, hip and avant-garde goings on – both ‘Andy Warhol’ , whose only notable fèature is its extraordinary all-acoustic-guitar accompaniment, and ‘Song For Bob Dylan‘ impress even these unastute ears as selfindulgent and trivial .
Queen Bitch’, though, with a vocal right out of Lou Reed and an arrangement light out of the Velvet Underground and a theme right out of the novel of the same name, is fascinating and scandalous, describing a “swishy … Queen” successfully hustling the singer’s boyfriend, And, after all this reviewer did to portray Dave as a clean-cut normal in these pages!
“The Bewlay Brothers’ sounds like something that got left off ‘The Man Who Sold The World‘ because it wasn’t loud enough. Musically it’s quiet and barren and sinister, Iyrically virtually, impenetrabie – a stream-of-consciousness stream of strange and (seemingly) unrelated imagery – and it closes with several repetitions of a chilling chorus sung in a broad Cockney accent, which, if it’s any help, David usually invokes when he’s attempting to communicate something about the impossibility of ever completely transcending the mundane circumstances of one’s birth.
And there you have it. With his affection for using intriguing and unusual themes in musical settings that most rock “artists” would dismiss with a quick fart as old-fashioned and uncool, he’s definitely an original, is David Bowie, and as such will one day make an album that will induce us Homo Superior elitist rock critics to race about like a chicken with its head lopped off when he leams that be has a couple of pretentious tendencies he’d do handsomely to curtail througb the composition of an album’s worth of materiaL Until that time, ‘Hunky Dory’ will suffice hunky-dorily,
David Bowie – vocals, guitar, alto and tenor saxophone, piano (in “Oh! You Pretty Things”, “Eight Line Poem”, and “The Bewlay Brothers”)
Mick Ronson – guitar, vocals, Mellotron, arrangements
Rick Wakeman – piano
Trevor Bolder – bass guitar, trumpet
Mick Woodmansey – drums
Ken Scott – producer, recording engineer, mixing engineer
David Bowie – producer
Dr. Toby Mountain – remastering engineer (for Rykodisc release)
Jonathan Wyner – assistant remastering engineer (for Rykodisc release)
Peter Mew – remastering engineer (for EMI release)
Nigel Reeve – assistant remastering engineer (for EMI release)
George Underwood – cover art
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
After the freakish hard rock of The Man Who Sold the World, David Bowie returned to singer/songwriter territory on Hunky Dory. Not only did the album boast more folky songs (“Song for Bob Dylan,” “The Bewlay Brothers”), but he again flirted with Anthony Newley-esque dancehall music (“Kooks,” “Fill Your Heart”), seemingly leaving heavy metal behind. As a result, Hunky Dory is 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. Mick Ronson’s guitar is pushed to the back, leaving Rick Wakeman’s cabaret piano to dominate the sound of the album. The subdued support accentuates the depth of Bowie’s material, whether it’s the revamped Tin Pan Alley of “Changes,” the Neil Young homage “Quicksand,” the soaring “Life on Mars?,” the rolling, vaguely homosexual anthem “Oh! You Pretty Things,” or the dark acoustic rocker “Andy Warhol.” On the surface, such a wide range of styles and sounds would make an album incoherent, but Bowie’s improved songwriting and determined sense of style instead made Hunky Dory a touchstone for reinterpreting pop’s traditions into fresh, postmodern pop music.
The Making of the Legendary “Hunky Dory” Album and I Pierce My Ears for David Bowie in 1972
David Bowie. Man, oh man. Rarely, if ever, have I been as wrong about an artist.
Believe me, I loved David Bowie. Crazy love. Second only to The Who for at least a year or so. Actually, pretty much from Space Oddity through Aladdin Sane. For some reason, he lost me with Diamond Dogs. I loved it on first listen, hated it on the second. That had never happened before… or since… with anyone. Interesting. I liked various Bowie songs and videos after that, but, I kinda decided he was just too much conceptualist, not enough rocker for me. That said, I never lost respect or admiration for his work. I just didn’t listen to it much.
When he put his catalog up as an IPO in the 1990s I thought anyone who bought in was a knucklehead. I mean, the guy was practically over. Tin Machine anyone? Like I said, I’ve probably never been more wrong. David Bowie is an institution. Duh.
My dear pal, Ken Sharp, has just released a book called Kooks, Queen Bitches and Andy Warhol: The Making of David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. Virtually any fan of popular rock music will find this a fun little book. But, for true Bowie fans, this is absolutely essential reading.
Ken is expert at rock oral histories.
In this new book, he has interviewed everyone involved with the making of not only Hunky Dory, but, David Bowie’s entire career up ‘til that point… managers, agents, engineers, producers, musicians, photographers, graphic designers… If they had a hand in HD, they’re here. The late great Mick Ronson (truly Bowie’s remarkable musical right hand man at the time) is quoted from earlier interviews. But, Ken was also able to elicit insights and episodes from Ronno’s various family members and old friends. Mr. Bowie himself only shows up via quotations from other interviews as well. But, these are fun because most of the comments Ken chose date from the initial press coverage of Hunky Dory. Everyone else is looking back with 20/20 hindsight, but one gets to hear from David when all this history had been freshly minted on vinyl and oh so au courant. Ken is clever.
A few days ago, Mr. Sharp and I chatted about this latest opus of his…
Binky: “Ken, you have a way of eliciting such genuine and open responses from your subjects… whether you’re dealing with all the guys who helped create John Lennon’s Double Fantasy album in your book, Starting Over, the cantankerous members of KISS in your Nothing To Lose, or The Spiders From Mars here in your new book on Hunky Dory. How do you do this?”
Ken: “First and foremost, the choice of any project I undertake is done on the basis of passion, period. If you ever find I’m doing a book on Bon Jovi or Metallica, you’ll know I’m penniless, tin cup in hand, pet monkey on my shoulder. Along with my experience as a writer/interviewer, l’m also a musician and singer/songwriter with three CDs to my credit. My interest comes from a musical place and perhaps that curiosity plus my passion engages my subjects to open up. I build a sense of trust. Perhaps selfishly, I’m driven to create books that I want to read.”
Binky: “Nice line. Like KISS being the band they wanted to see. I have to say, I was initially disappointed in most of Hunky Dory. Although a song like “Life On Mars” was instantly undeniable. I was a big fan of Bowie’s much heavier The Man Who Sold The World album which preceded it. There is a load of info about TMWSTW in your book as well. What are your personal feelings regarding these two albums?”
Ken: “I’m a song guy, always have been. The songs on Hunky Dory captured me immediately. From “Changes” to your “Life on Mars” to “Queen Bitch” to “Quicksand” to “Kooks,” this album, perhaps more than any other in Bowie’s canon, showcases the purity of his talent as a songwriter, unadorned, naked and intimate. As for his prior album, The Man Who Sold The World, any album cover featuring Bowie in a dress is bad-ass. It’s an impressive record, much heavier, built around riffs and introduced us to legendary guitarist Mick Ronson whose electrifying work with Bowie is all over his follow-up albums, Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Pinups. The Man Who Sold The World is much more of a guitar album, muscular riffs and attitude, where Hunky Dory is much more of a album centered around the piano. Most expertly played by a pre-Yes Rick Wakeman, by the way.”
Binky: “Wow, right! Rick offers some of the best insights and most vivid memories in your book. Man, is he a Bowie fan! Hunky Dory also seems like the album where David Bowie found his persona “David Bowie”. Your thoughts on Bowie in a general big picture way and where Hunky Dory fits, sir?”
Ken: “David Bowie is arguably the most significant musical icon that sprung out of the 1970s and his legacy continues to grow. He was never content or comfortable to stay in one place, musically. He was, and is, always searching, always evolving, always pushing the envelope. Whether it was the dystopian nightmare of Diamond Dogs, the ‘rubber soul’ [Ha!] of Young Americans, the Kraftwerk meets R&B flavor of Station to Station, his groundbreaking Berlin trilogy, Low, Heroes and Lodger, he has been the model for musical excellence. For me, Hunky Dory fits seamlessly into the fabric of Bowie’s work. It amply demonstrates his unerring gift for a melody and compelling lyric, divorced from image or trends. It’s an album that’s so out of time that it’s in time, if that makes any sense.”
Binky: “As in, timeless! I have to tell you, Ken, I never played my 24 year old daughter, Eleanor, one David Bowie song during her childhood. She found him on her own and he is her all… time… favorite… artist. I can recall about 20 years ago thinking he’d burned himself out with too many failed experiments. Yet, he’s red hot these days.”
Ken: [laughs] “Your daughter has great taste. Hey, from Nine Inch Nails to Moby to Lady Gaga, Bowie’s intoxicating spell over modern music just thrives. Music, image, concept, he’s the ultimate art project. [Nailed it, Ken!] And as proved by his most recent album,The Next Day, his first in many years, he’s still got it and continues to reinvent the musical form in surprising and spectacular ways.”
Binky: “My God, I am so overdue to hear that album. Yikes! I suck. Thank you very much, Ken. Best of luck with the book, man.”
Ken: “Thank you, Binky!”