David Bowie: “Hunky Dory” (1971)
God dammit this is such a good fucking album. I listened to it twice before I even thought to write this.
Back in high school, AntKnee made me a tape with this album on one side and “Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust…” on the other. I spent so many nights during sophomore year listening to that tape, just playing through each side over and over and over again. AntKnee and I would even write lyrics from this album in each other’s assignment books.
I am going to stick to my Bowie Apprenticeship™ theory and say that “Hunky Dory” — despite being not only one of his best albums, but one of the best rock records of all time, period — is still proto-Bowie. Nearly all of the songs are homages or tributes or heavily inspired by artists Bowie loved: “Queen Bithch” is The Velvet Underground, “Changes” is Sinatra, “Song for Bob Dylan” is you-know-who, “Kooks” is Neil Young, etc.
Granted, we’re really close. Trevor Bolder has replaced Visconti on bass, so we now have the final Spiders lineup. “Queen Bitch” is said by Wikipedia to be the song that invents Glam Rock, and the sumptuous “Life on Mars” begs to be played in a medley with the next album’s “Five Years”. And the unevenness of Bowie’s previous songwriting is just flat out gone. “Hunky Dory” is solid — hell, it’s magnificent — from start to finish.
And “Quicksand”… one of the most beautifully harrowing songs Bowie’s ever written.
God dammit this is such a good fucking album.