Hunky Dory (RCA)
When I choose my top 10 albums, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars nearly always appears. I put it above Hunky Dory mainly because of the breakthrough energy and fully formed star factor.
I consider David Bowie to be the best British artist for his originality, courage, musical sensibility and seemingly being able to view the world from a higher perspective.
The album Hunky Dory, released at the end of 1971, is a departure from his previous heavy, dark dystopian Man Who Sold the World and reflects a much gentler, introspective and more personal side of David Bowie. The sleeve continues his journey into the perception of gender with the hand-colored photograph channeling Greta Garbo of the silent movie era.
Hunky Dory is piano led with acoustic guitars and though it may seem lighter, it still has the intensity in the performance, songs and production. Orchestration on songs such as “Life on Mars” are used to full effect.
Here is an artist who has committed his life to music, not yet had the success and thinks deeply about what that even means. He is contemplating the meaning of life through the study of Buddhism, Esoteric writings and beliefs and what it is to be human. He asks the questions and tries to find answers. A man who can’t be pinned down on the lonely journey of an artist- confident and passionate.
The album has an early ’70s production and great vocal presence. At times his early influences like Anthony Newley appear on the whimsical “Kooks” and “Fill Your Heart,” where he is unafraid to include his personal life. Quintessentially English, Bowie is a post Second World War artist (living proof of Churchill’s lies) and leads the way by attempting to view the future. His trip to New York inspires songs such as “Andy Warhol,” “Queen Bitch” and “Song for Bob Dylan.”
Bowie tested out his feelings about the nature of stardom and power.
As a teenager who felt like an outsider, Bowie spoke to me and said it’s OK to be who you are and reach for your dreams. He inspired a generation who were “changed” by his music, ideas and positivity through the lens of his authentic self. Always one step ahead, the album Hunky Dory gave little indication of what was to follow as Bowie transformed into the character of a fully fledged rock star!
Former Penetration and Invisible Girls singer Pauline Murray releases her new solo album Elemental on September 25 via Polestar Records. The single “Secrets” by Pauline Murray is out now.