DAVID BOWIE “Hunky Dory” 1971
Aligning yourself with other popular artists by name checking them can often seem a bold move and could be seen as using the fame and works of others to further your own career. Unlike U2 who have convinced only themselves that they are great as THE BEATLES. On “Hunky Dory” DAVID BOWIE chose to reference Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan and Lou Reed and manages not to come off as pompous. This is largely due to the theatrical approach often taken both in the lyrics and the vocals. “Song for Dylan” starts with a convincing imitation of Dylan’s voice before BOWIE finds his own voice to tribute the man “with a voice like sandpaper and glue”. “Queen Bitch” is possibly the best LOU REED imitation ever performed. Not only is the voice similar but also the guitar strumming and the lyrical approach is similar to much of LOU REED as the song is also about a transvestite and nightlife. “Andy Warhol” is an acoustic guitar piece with a playful tongue in cheek that due mostly to Bowie’s voice and lyrics has so much more to offer than Warhol’s art.
Radio programmers all around the word have made sure we’ve all heard album opener “Changes”. There’s definitely no denying its catchiness. “Oh! You Pretty Things” is fantastic piano driven pop with drums coming in mid-song and then disappearing like a thief in the night but speeding up the piano’s heart-beat. “Life on Mars” is classic BOWIE and has an ambience that rivals “Space Oddity”. The upbeat catchy “Kooks” ensures a cheerful change of pace and the piano and touches of trumpet aid in convincing that the cross dressing songwriter really is a kook. “Quicksand” despite the melancholic piano does the opposite of sinking with clever lyrics about Crowley and well known World War Two heroes and enemies.
The piano and falsetto on “Fill Your Heart”are custom fit for stage shows and BOWIE’s versatility is once again proven. Bowie’s showmanship is integral to this album and gives it a timeless quality. Dated is a word that definitely cannot be used to describe this album.