Saturday, June 30, 2018

Bowie, David - "Hunky Dory"

Bowie, David - Hunky Dory
1971, Parlophone

1. Changes
2. Oh! You Pretty Things
3. Eight Line Poem
4. Life On Mars?
5. Kooks
6. Quicksand
7. Fill Your Heart
8. Andy Warhol
9. Song For Bob Dylan
10. Queen Bitch
11. The Bewlay Brothers

Uvulapie:  Hunky Dory was released back in 1971, before David Bowie was DAVID BOWIE and one year before Ziggy Stardust obliterated the minds of youth the world over.  It was his fourth album and I’m fairly certain his only hit up to that time was “Space Oddity” from his second album.  This album starts with his second hit, “Changes”, which still sounds amazingly fresh and invigorating despite it being drawn from 50's pop nostalgia and nightclub noir.  Another song which immediately caught my fancy is the lighthearted “Kooks” in which he asks his newborn son if he wants to stay and be raised by a couple of kooks.  The music is upbeat with strings, a plucky piano in the verse, and an unusual arrangement.  It sounds sentimental and sweet, almost kitschy, and certainly not something I was expecting from the experimental, gender-bending DAVID BOWIE.

Old Man:  I won't belabor the point here - I like Hunky Dory more than Scary Monsters. It seems a lot more unified that's for sure. It's also nice to hear Bowie just sing the dang songs instead of yowl all over them. Wow... that was a lot more critical of Bowie than I thought I'd be, but there it is. "Andy Warhol" is great and it's one of my favorite Bowie songs ever already. I also really enjoyed "Oh! You Pretty Things," "Kooks," and "Queen Bitch." The last one sounds like a sort of proto-"Suffragette City." "Kooks" also vaguely reminds me of Daniel Amos' "Props." Not really sure why, though. I'm probably not as wild about "Fill Your Heart" because it seems a little goofy and cheesy but without the familial grounding of "Kooks." However, unlike Scary Monsters, there's not one song on here that I don't like.

Uvulapie: I just re-listened to both “Queen Bitch” and “Suffragette City” so that I could properly tear your comparison to shreds (purely for readership entertainment value, of course) and daggonit Old Man, you’re right.  Whatever.  Good catch.  I’ll respectfully disagree on the “Props”/”Kooks” comparison, however, though you get points for working in a Daniel Amos reference.  One song neither of us mentioned is the gorgeous “Life On Mars?”  It’s a dramatic yet forlorn piano song (in fact, most of the songs on this album are either based on piano or feature it in some way) that builds in an orchestral string section and a big, reaching vocal melody in the chorus.  And if I may work in one final digression, and I will unless you edit it out, this song reminds me of the first two Alice Cooper solo albums in its lofty rock/orchestra arrangement.

Old Man: Dude, I would never edit anything out. What's the fun in that? I didn't think to make the Alice Cooper comparison, but you're right. They were contemporaries on different continents but they tapped into a similar vibe. Though I don't know off-hand when this album was released in comparison with those. Another song we didn't mention was album closer, "The Bewlay Brothers." It's a bit more "Bowie" in that it seems a little more dour, experimental, and more... well Bowie than the rest of the album. It also ends with him singing in a thick accent for theatrical effect. Something Peter Gabriel used to do pretty regularly around the same time in Genesis. Theatrics were big back then...

Hunky Dory seems to be a hit with the both of us. I confess that I would direct someone to this album rather than Scary Monsters to get a sample of the artist.

Useless Fact: The line, "I am a product of Churchill's lies" in "Quicksand" shows up in Jimmy P. Brown's first Fearful Symmetry album as, "I am a product of Church's lies" from "Reinvent the World."

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