This is David Bowie’s first true masterpiece. Although his first three albums had been commercially unsuccessful (As well as this one, which didn’t chart), and he was at the time considered a one-hit wonder (That hit being “Space Oddity” in 1969, reaching #5 on the UK singles charts), Bowie persevered. This is, as Rolling Stone magazine put it, “Where Bowie goes glam”. While his first albums had been mostly folk music, this album mixed his British music hall influences (“Kooks”, “Fill Your Heart”, “Andy Warhol”), with folk rock (“Eight Line Poem”, “Quicksand”, “The Bewlay Brothers”, “Song For Bob Dylan”), pure glam rock (“Oh! You Pretty Things”, “Queen Bitch”), and mixtures of many genres (“Changes”, “Life On Mars?”). It also was the spring board for “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, which he began work on before “Hunky Dory” was even released. Here’s the track by track review.
1. Changes: 10/10. A great song that Bowie says he wrote with the cabaret in mind. It really signifies his change in musical style.
2. Oh! You Pretty Things: 10/10. Probably the most glam song on the album, this is one of Bowie’s best. I have no clue as to what it’s about though.
3. Eight Line Poem: 7/10. The most disappointing song on the album. It’s way too folk-like, which is only a problem because he tries to be Bob Dylan, and that doesn’t work out for anyone except for Mr. Dylan himself.
4. Life On Mars? : 10/10. A great piano based song that goes great with movies. Used to it’s best extent in “The Life Aquatic” (A great Wes Anderson movie where all but one of the songs are by Bowie or are covers of Bowie songs by the ship’s musician character in Portuguese).
5. Kooks: 9/10. A good example of the effects of British music hall music on Bowie. Written for his first son.
6. Quicksand: 10/10. A surprisingly good song. Is basically this album’s “Heroes”, and is almost like an anthem.
7. Fill Your Heart: 10/10. A great cover that makes use of Bowie’s dynamic vocal range. Written by Biff Rose and Paul Williams.
8. Andy Warhol: 10/10. A tribute to Andy Warhol, a famous painter and socialite. Bowie got to play this for Warhol after he became famous. Apparently Warhol didn’t approve, thinking it made fun of him (By the way, Warhol is my favorite artist)
9. Song For Bob Dylan: 10/10. A tribute to Bob Dylan, the famous poet and singer. Sounds a lot like Dylan’s own work.
10. Queen Bitch: 10/10. A tribute to the Velvet Underground, although only in musical sound. Velvets leader Lou Reed would later become good friends with Bowie.
11. The Bewlay Brothers: 10/10. Said to be an autobiography of himself, this is a Bowie classic.
This is a must have in any album collection. Five stars of five!