David Bowie
Hunky Dory


5.0
classic

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
July 28th, 2011 | 147 replies


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Everything is hunky dory.

Hunky Dory is David Bowie’s first classic album. It’s distinctive yet familiar simultaneously, featuring some of his most essential tracks, as well as a platter of lesser known gentle pop gems. The scent of the air is sweet and exultant, with a young Bowie doffing his cap in the direction of simple cabaret rock, without the constraints of an omnipotent persona providing the backbone of the tales and tribulations of each song’s character.

Bowie sounds rather carefree and generally less intense and paranoid than his Ziggy Stardust and Thin White Duke embodiments, with Hunky Dory representing a unique and individual place in his eclectic music catalogue. Instead of most of the songs relating to an androgynous alien rock star or a cocaine-addled soul man’s off-kilter view of the world, on this record, Bowie is just being Bowie - singing tales of hypothetical youngsters trying to live life, to an impressively accomplished standard.

The lyrics are a deep, cryptic poetry, enriched by personal tensions and evocative imagery which Bowie emotes with his superior vocals - finally finding the distinctive singing voice he'd been searching for since the mid sixties. The set kicks off with 'Changes' - one of Bowie’s undisputed classics. It sets the tone of the album well, with an upbeat smear of sax and bouncy piano providing the backing to Bowie’s rebellion against misunderstanding, as he belts out the catchy hook: “Time may change me, but I can’t trace time”.

'Oh! You Pretty Things' regurgitates the same formula to equally satisfying effect, but there are always small glimmers of sorrow to balance out the upbeat nature of the tunes with touches of something more pensive - 'Fill Your Heart' being a prime example. Even though the lyrics are hopeful, positive and life-affirming, the change of pace just before the end of the chorus is sombre - one of many intriguing moments that help cleanse the album of treading ‘overly cheery’ ground.

The biggest song in sound and reputation is undoubtedly 'Life On Mars' - a sweeping epic packed with tense orchestration, memorable lyrics and melodic guitar cords. Aside from the three outstanding classics ('Changes', 'Oh! You Pretty Things' and 'Life On Mars') there’s a cluster of overlooked, superb numbers, with the lively 'Queen Bitch', the avant-garde 'Andy Warhol', and the jovial 'Kooks' being just a few choice cuts.

Hunky Dory is a superb set of early Bowie classics, before he got swept away by the future-shock paranoia of his pending personas, and whilst his albums released under the pretence of said characters were just as satisfying in their own right, this record takes on a character of its own - a refreshing, pure and exhilarated Bowie. It’s an invigorating and charming side role to Bowie’s more iconic glam rock 'Ziggy' phase, and as such, distinguishes itself as an essential part of any Bowie collection. It may take a little longer to warm to for those only versed in his other seventies experiments, but after a few spins, the warmth of Hunky Dory is sure to prove its worth as one of Bowie’s most realised and well executed albums.



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user ratings (910)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
Sepstrup (5)
1971's "Hunky Dory" spawned a number of hits, most notably the gorgeous "Life on Mars". David Bowie...

Ross Delany (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Adash
July 28th 2011


1356 Comments


You working your way through every Bowie album fills me with immense pleasure

omnipanzer
July 28th 2011


21626 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Love this album

"Hunky Dory is a superb set of early Bowie classics, before he got swept away by the future-shock paranoia of his pending personas"
^ love this phrasing

POS

;^)

Digging: We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unravelling

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Adash - Haha, cool!

omnipanzer - Thanks bud. It's nice to have a continual supporter. I actually posted this a while back but decieded to delete and re-post it in order to fit in with my discography review.


BigHans
July 28th 2011


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

didnt you already review this one dude?

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2011


6222 Comments


Great job man, keep it up.

Your reviews coincide to the non-metal stuff i always wanted to listen to (but never did for some obscure reasons).

I will use your reviews as reference for my future buys.

Cheers, as you brits say :P

Digging: Seduced (AT) - The Proclamation

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

BigHans - Read my last comment ; )

Voivod - Thanks, dude. Glad to be of service.


omnipanzer
July 28th 2011


21626 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"I actually posted this a while back but decieded to delete and re-post it in order to fit in with my discography review.

Yah I recall, and I still love it ;^)

omnipanzer
July 28th 2011


21626 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Jamming out to Bowie now of course m/


"Recent Tracks:

David Bowie Panic in Detroit
David Bowie The Jean Genie
David Bowie All The Young Dudes
David Bowie Ziggy Stardust
David Bowie Suffragette City
David Bowie Moonage Daydream
David Bowie Life on Mars?
David Bowie Changes
David Bowie The Man Who Sold the World
David Bowie Space Oddity
David Bowie Panic in Detroit"

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

omnipanzer - Nice. I'd add 'Five Years' to that. I listened to Hunky Dory from start to finish last night for the first time in a while - so fucking good.


fsharptrit0ne
July 28th 2011


4814 Comments


Awesome review dude

3rd favorite Bowie

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

fsharptrit0ne - Thank you very much! Which two Bowie records beat this for you, anyway?


Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

sehguh - Much appreciated, sir!


fsharptrit0ne
July 28th 2011


4814 Comments


Ziggy and either Low or Heroes

It's pretty much a tie for 2nd between them



Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

fsharptrit0ne - Pretty much the same here, dude.


fsharptrit0ne
July 28th 2011


4814 Comments


Well, great minds think alike now don't they?

Looking forward to your upcoming reviews!

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

fsharptrit0ne - Haha i guess they do. Thanks, hopefully i'll turn out Ziggy for tomorrow.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


6499 Comments


Pos, yada yada ; )

Can't wait, 'till you get to Station to Station

Digging: Recondite - Iffy

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Cheers, clercqie. I love 'Station' too, so its going be interesting writing about it.


clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


6499 Comments


Personally, I'd find it hard to keep my objectivity if I should write one... So good luck (although it'll be great, I know it : )

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks. I know what you mean, it's gonna be tough but its not my favourite Bowie record, so it should be ok.



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