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Hunky Dory – David Bowie

David Bowie

Hunky Dory


Bowie exercised his creative muscle in 71 with an album of songs that showed off his range and disparate influences. The sleeve notes and titles declare some of these – Velvet underground on Queen Bitch (a masterful pastiche of Sweet Jane) and Sinatra on the pop classic Life on Mars in which a My Way type progression has the top line on a trampoline – climbing ever higher till the seemingly impossible denouement, is there life on Mars? Neatly preceded by the eloquent Eight-line Poem – a sort of slow tempo suburban blues – Life on Mars was to be a big hit in 73 during the Ziggy period and the uninitiated suddenly realised the kid could sing, and the style of voice (as writer and vocalist)  transcended all influences. No doubt Bowie’s voice was at its peak on Hunky Dory – not yet having travelled too far down the accented road, and not having slipped into the mannerisms that marked his eighties work.

From the impressive mock Dylan on Song for Bob Dylan to the riff-driven Andy Warhol – penned around the time Bowie met the artist in New York – the self assured voice changes persona like pairs of pants.

The most outstanding song is the downbeat and Lennoesque The Bewlay Brothers, with rich twelve string open chords. The references it contains reveal a kind of childhood exposure to adult ideas and themes:

…Like the grim face on the cathedral floor

More Ginsberg than Dylan, this haunting piece, after which Bowie eventually named his publishing company, is seemingly connected with his half brother Terry whose disturbed life was perhaps reflected in Bowie’s alter egos.

Changes has shades of Lady Madonna and My Generation. This should have been a hit single, but no one was ready for Bowie, even at his most commercial and, despite some mainstream radio 1 airplay, Changes failed to have an impact. However the album itself scored rave reviews and Peter Noon’s MOR interpretation of Oh You Pretty Things was top ten in the UK.

Regular and significant collaborator Mick Ronson, session wonder kid Rick Wakeman, along with Woody Woodmansey, Trevor Bolder, co-producer Ken Scott and team make for a classy sound. And sporting a fine cover put together by Brian Ward and George Underwood, this is the essential Bowie album (but then again they are nearly all essential!).


Reports from a Congested Planet

Florence. September 2017. Pushing through the crowds, I felt a little uneasy by the mass of humanity, including me, swarming over an old city like ants over the carcass of a dead giant – reminding me of the crowd scene in Nathanael West’s Hollywood novel, Day of the Locust.


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It’s as if someone has taken this super organic computer, with seemingly limitless potential, and attached it to a crocodile

Dangerous Ideas

It is not only the hard-won freedom of speech that’s under threat in the West — it is also freedom of thought.

Our True Nature

Until we realise and acknowledge our true nature, there can be no significant progress. The idea that somehow our civilisations are working for the good of all humankind and all the creatures of the planet, is false.

We have to ask ourselves, what is the end game in increasing our cities and our fundamentally rotten cultures?

Growth for the sake of growth has to end.

A deluded minority live in relative comfort, and some in luxury. But the net amount of suffering in the world is greater now than in all of recorded history.



Are the common forms of severe depression really disorders? Or are they a consequence of imagination and awareness?

Imagine if the past was the future. How would you feel?


Ask yourself: Is it love that makes you worship and grovel to your god? Or is it abject fear?